Dan Wootton’s GB News show breached rules, regulator sayson March 4, 2024 at 11:01 am

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An episode of Wootton’s show featuring Laurence Fox received 8,867 complaints from viewers.

Dan WoottonImage source, Getty Images

An episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News broke broadcasting rules, media regulator Ofcom has concluded.

Comments made during the programme by Laurence Fox about a female political journalist, Ava Evans, prompted 8,867 complaints to Ofcom.

Viewers complained his remarks were sexist, misogynistic and offensive.

Ofcom said his remarks “constituted a highly personal attack on Ms Evans and were potentially highly offensive to viewers”.

The broadcasting regulator also said it has “significant concerns about GB News’ editorial control of its live output” and is requiring the channel to “provide further detailed information about its compliance practices in this area”.

Fox, an actor turned politician, drew condemnation after asking what “self-respecting man” would “climb into bed” with her, during a live show on 26 September.

Wootton could be seen smiling and laughing throughout Fox’s remarks, before adding for “a touch of balance” that Evans had qualified her comments, and called her a “very beautiful woman”.

“[The comments] reduced her contribution to a broadcast discussion on mental health – in her professional capacity as a political journalist – to a judgment on whether she, or women like her who publicly expressed their political opinions, were sexually desirable to men,” Ofcom said in its ruling.

“As such, we considered that Mr Fox’s comments were degrading and demeaning both to Ms Evans and women generally and were clearly and unambiguously misogynistic.”

Ofcom added that Mr Wootton’s reaction and limited challenge “did not mitigate the potential for offence” and instead “exacerbated it by contributing to the narrative in which a woman’s value was judged by her physical appearance”.

It added that “no apology was made after the interview with Mr Fox in the remainder of the two-hour programme – nor were any other editorial techniques used to address the potential for offence”.

Following the comments, GB News suspended both presenters from the channel and said the insults were “totally unacceptable”.

The publisher for the MailOnline also announced it had sacked Wootton, who had previously written a column for the newspaper since 2021, “following events this week”.

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At the time of the events, Evans, who is PoliticsJOE’s political correspondent, told the BBC the comments made her feel “disgusting” and she had since received threats online, including a message telling her to “watch her back”.

She has since called on Conservative MPs to stop appearing on GB News.

Several sitting and former Tory MPs present programmes on GB News, including Lee Anderson, who was previously the deputy chair of the party but is currently sitting as an independent MP after having the whip withdrawn.

The regulator said it is also investigating a number of other complaints including whether Nigel Farage broke rules requiring news and current affairs to be presented with due impartiality during a show on GB News in January.

In September, Ofcom confirmed to the BBC it had 12 investigations still open into GB News, which launched promising to “change the face of news and debate in the UK”.

Ofcom launched the investigation into Wootton’s show under rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code, in which broadcasters must ensure material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

The episode was the most complained about broadcast of 2023.

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