British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has ruled that Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow’s claim that he had “never seen so many white people in one place” at a protest against Theresa May delaying Brexit was not in breach of its rules.
British broadcasters such as Channel 4, which is owned by the public, are supposed to maintain a broadly neutral stance in their news and political coverage, and Ofcom received many complaints that Mr Snow’s comments appeared to have negative racist overtones.
“There are crowds rallying outside Downing Street. We’ve just got these pictures in which were taken nearby… It has been the most extraordinary day,” the elderly presenter reported at the time.
“A day which has seen — I’ve never seen so many white people in one place!” he added, seemingly in horror.
“It’s an extraordinary story — there are people everywhere, there are crowds everywhere.”
Jon Snow on the pro-Brexit protests outside Parliament, "I have never seen so many white people in one place… it's an extraordinary story, there are people everywhere" pic.twitter.com/XC7ipXpViW
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) March 29, 2019
With Snow being an upper-middle-class son of a bishop and elite boarding school alumnus — born at a time when Britain’s demographics were much more uniformly White British than today — many doubted the veracity of his comments.
Indeed, a number of critics took to social media to post pictures of Mr Snow with large crowds of middle-class white people at events such as Glastonbury, a music festival well-attended by left-liberals which has often hosted hard-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a speaker — and where Snow himself is alleged to have chanted “F*ck the Tories”.
Ofcom have decided the remarks were fine, however, essentially agreeing with Snow that “the large number of people protesting and in the crowd appeared to be predominantly white” and claiming that that context for the unusual observation had been provided.
They did add, however, that “In the context of the current volatile public discourse surrounding Brexit, particular care is needed to fully contextualise any ambiguous statements in programmes on sensitive issues that have the potential to cause offence to audiences”.
Snow is widely regarded as left-wing and anti-Brexit, and has previously been accused of taking an anti-Israel stance with respect to his coverage of Gaza.
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) March 30, 2019