BBC journalists joke about pay gap and Carrie Gracie
A leaked transcript has revealed two male BBC journalists joking about the corporation’s gender pay gap just days after a female journalist resigned over the company’s culture of pay inequality.
Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s China editor, resigned in an open letter after she found out she earned 50 percent less than her male counterparts.
“I believe you have a right to know that it [the BBC] is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure,” Gracie continues.
But, just days after Gracie outed the publicly-funded organisation’s “secretive and illegal” pay gap, two male BBC journalists joked about Gracie’s story in an off-air conversation leaked to The Sun.
John Humphrys—who’s been a presenter on BBC Radio 4 Today programme for 30 years—was talking to the BBC’s North America editor Jon Sopel on the phone ahead of an interview about Gracie’s pay equality protest.
Gracie resigned when she discovered her male counterparts were earning more than double her £135,000 per annum salary; one of whom was Sopel, who earns between £200,000-£249,999.
“Slight change of subject, the first question will be how much of your salary you are prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her, and then a few comments about your other colleagues, you know, like our Middle East editor [Jeremy Bowen] and the other men who are earning too much,” said Humphrys.
“I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I’ll have to come back and say well yes Mr Humphrys, but…” replied Sopel.
“And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you fucking earn but I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just – something like that would do it?” said Humphrys, who earns a salary of £600,000-£649,000.
“Oh dear god. She’s actually suggested that you should lose money – you know that don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly, have you?” Humphrys adds.
A spokesperson for the BBC said the conversation was “an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets.” A BBC source revealed to The Guardian, however, that the corporation’s management are “deeply unimpressed” by the conversation.
Humphrys defended his remarks to The Sun, stating it was “silly banter between old mates,” and later told The Times that he and Sopel were “taking the mickey out of each other.” He added that it “had nothing to do with Carrie’s campaign.”
People took to Twitter to express their disgust at Humphrys’ remarks, which some felt were not out of character.
By the way. I don’t begrudge John Humphrys earning so much money. I begrudge him earning it while never bothering to research a subject, sneering in interviews and cutting subjects (esp women) off when he wants to hear his own voice. Which is often.
— Bella (@bellamackie) January 11, 2018
About time John Humphrys was sacked. Gaffe after gaffe and we pay for his misogynistic shit. BBC will keep him though, they don’t seem to mind the gender pay gap despite resignations.
— Liam Lewis (@liamjameslewis) January 12, 2018
Over to you, BBC.