The BBC's main job is to educate its audience. So maybe they can take a few minutes and educate BBC Radio 4 Today host John Humphrys, not to make light about the gender pay gap.
A leaked, recorded conversation between Humphrys and BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel, reveals the pair discussing BBC's China editor, Carrie Gracie, and her comments on the gender pay gap after she resigned. In the recording, Humphrys can be heard making light of Gracie's decision to leave her China editor post after discovering that her male colleagues were earning significantly more than her.
Gracie's resignation helped spur the conversation surrounding the pay gap at the BBC. In a forceful letter, Gracie states that she was shocked and dismayed to learn that the BBC's two male international editors were earning nearly 50 percent more than their two female counterparts after the BBC was required to disclose their employees salaries last summer.
BBC gender pay gap is actually so bad and sadly, probably represents every other employer in the world— Rebekah (@rebekahankersx) July 19, 2017
"The BBC must admit the problem, apologize and set in place an equal, fair and transparent pay structure," she said.
She also said that the BBC offered her a 33 percent pay increase but she turn the offer down, stating she didn't want more money, she just wanted equality.
Here is leaked conversation in full between John Humphrys and Jon Sopel. Took place in Today programme studios at 4am on Monday. pic.twitter.com/lib0Gtw5LQ— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) January 11, 2018
"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 and the other men who are earning too much," Humphrys can be heard saying to Sopel.
To which Sopel replies, "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...."
Humphrys then states, "And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I've handed over already more than you f***ing 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."
Humphrys added: "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 has acknowledged the recording by writing it off as "silly banter between old mates," though nothing about the conversation reads "silly banter." Sopel doesn't sound or seem amused and Humphrys' overall tone is condescending and rude at best.
"This was what I thought was an exchange between two old friends who have known each other for 30 years and were taking the mickey out of each other. It was nothing to do with Carrie's campaign," Humphrys stated.
I have heard the recording and it is base - and beneath what the public would expect to hear from John Humphrys. Winifred Robinson was stood down for tweeting support for @BBCCarrie I expect the same will now happen with Mr Humphrys.— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 11, 2018
Miriam O'Reilly, who won an age discrimination case against the BBC in 2001, has accused the company of censorship after she was due to appear on-air to discuss equal pay and the wage gap, but the appearance was canceled after she questioned a producer about Humphrys.
Disappointed to be stood down from speaking on equal pay @BBCRadio4Today tomorrow morning.— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 11, 2018
I believe the person who made the decision to stand me down this morning was concerned I would mention the leaked tape on air. If Mr Humphrys was interviewing me I quite possibly would have - but why not - he would have done the same - it’s called freedom of speech.— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 12, 2018
The #BBC says I was dropped from Today because the #EqualPay item became ‘a much broader discussion about social change’. Interesting it became a ‘broader discussion’ minutes after I told them I had heard the Humphrys Sopel recording.— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 12, 2018
"Minutes after I told the producer that I had heard the tape I was stood down," she said. When asked if her having heard the tape was what caused the cancellation she replied, "I'm absolutely convinced about it, there's no doubt in my mind that's why."
So no mind about what you said Mr Humphrys, or how you said it, it’s the ‘nasty person’ with a ‘grudge’ who’s to blame. https://t.co/GCebTdnJ7O— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 12, 2018
Another female presenter mirrored O'Reilly's annoyance, telling The Guardian that it was "frustrating" that men were able to voice their opinions on the wage gap without any action being taken against them, but female journalist's were silenced since they had shown online support for Gracie.
What an insult to injury to have the bloatedly overpaid John Humphrys doing this piece on BBC equal pay #r4today— AliceHeywood (@22carrots) January 8, 2018
It's completely absurd that John Humphrys gets to conduct an interview about equal pay, when his salary is at the heart of it, while the woman who *is* the story must sit in silence next to him because "impartiality rules".— Matt Wells (@MatthewWells) January 8, 2018
The BBC, despite mounting pressure, has not taken any action against Humphrys.
What I have learned from that experience is this : #BBC execs, most of them male, do not like to be challenged by women. More than that, they do not like to be challenged by women who won’t back down. They don’t like women who win.— Miriam O'Reilly (@OReillyMiriam) January 8, 2018
A spokesperson for the corporation has released a statement regarding the pay discrepancies:
"The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and, as we have said, we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay. PWC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] are working with us on this to insure an objective external assessment of how we have set pay in the past, what we need to do different going forward, and what further action we need to take immediately. We will publish that in the coming weeks."
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Neil Hall