GB news has reportedly taken presenter Guto Harri off air after he took the knee whilst on live television.
Harri’s gesture comes after England football team players received racist abuse following their Euro 2020 final defeat.
Harri said it made “sense” that footballers should take the knee on the field and that racism has “no place in modern Britain”.
He said he had “underestimated how close to the surface” racism still is in the country.
According to official TV audience figures, the new TV station registered zero viewers during some of its broadcasts this week after viewers boycotted it following the presenter kneeling.
A GB News spokesperson apologised for the gesture, labelling it an “unacceptable breach of our standards”.
The channel tweeted: “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee. Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.
“On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.
“We let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue.”
Friends of Harri reportedly told The Guardian: “GB News is becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be – not defending free speech and combatting cancel culture but replicating it on the far right. Nasty.
“It’s ridiculous to say he’s breached editorial standards and almost certainly defamatory. In reality it wasn’t a breach of editorial code but ‘sacked for offending the lynch mob’.”
The London Economic has contacted GB News for comment.
“Free speech update”, comedy writer James Felton said, reacting to the news Harri was taken off air.
Guardian columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “Cancel culture claims another victim because of the offended-at-everything snowflake mob.”
Free speech update pic.twitter.com/cbOsBrVQc2— James Felton (@JimMFelton) July 16, 2021
Cancel culture claims another victim because of the offended-at-everything snowflake mob https://t.co/PoN4D6JRFZ— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) July 16, 2021
Sam Bright, Chief politics and investigations reporter at Byline Times, quoted former BBC presenter Andrew Neil, currently presenting at GB News, when Neil was defending Dan Wootton.
Bright said Neil insisted GB News “believes in free speech, even for presenters”.
“Yet that mantra died a quick death when a presenter decided to take the knee,” Bright added.
“GB News believes in free speech, even for presenters” – @afneil said to me when he was defending Wootton’s inane COVID conspiracy theories.— Sam Bright (@WritesBright) July 16, 2021
Yet that mantra died a quick death when a presenter decided to take the knee https://t.co/dkdzj3BT1L
Meanwhile, Neil, who is also chair of the GB News board, told viewers earlier that he was taking leave after just two weeks on air after what he described as a “rocky start” but would return “before the summer is out”.
Hugo Gye, political editor at the i, said GB news is an “interesting idea which deserved chance to succeed” and that it is “staffed with lots of very talented people”.
“But… starting a channel to promote free speech and oppose cancel culture, then suspending a presenter for taking a knee, is incredibly bizarre,” he added.
GB News is a) interesting idea which deserved chance to succeed b) staffed with lots of v talented people. But… starting a channel to promote free speech and oppose cancel culture, then suspending a presenter for taking a knee, is incredibly bizarre. https://t.co/rexoaVghxT— Hugo Gye (@HugoGye) July 16, 2021