GB News seems intent on digging a hole for itself, apparently axing one of its presenters just for taking the knee live on air.

Guto Harri was discussing the appalling racist fallout of the Euro 2020 final when he announced that he finally “got” just how “close to the surface racism still [is]” in England. At that point he got up from his sofa in the studio and defiantly knelt down.

The move sparked fury among the self-styled “anti-woke” channel’s viewership, with scores of (now) former fans accusing it of “virtue-signalling” and calling for a boycott of its programmes.

Their calls did not go unheeded and, according to official TV audience figures, some GB News shows subsequently attracted zero viewers. Ouch.

The broadcaster hastily tried to repair the damage two days after the event by issuing a blistering statement condemning Harri’s actions as an “unacceptable breach of our standards.” Then, on Friday, sources told The Guardian that Harri had been suspended “indefinitely.”

And yet, by criticising the host’s expression of his opinion on what touts itself as a free speech platform, some Twitter users have argued that GB News has gone against everything it’s supposed to stand for.

The channel was also accused of hypocrisy for posting an earlier tweet insisting it “stands four square against racism in all its forms.”

“You can’t be FOR anti-racism then have ‘Standards’ AGAINST antiracism denouncing someone for a LIVE #TakeTheKnee,” one commentator wrote.

“Your ‘Standards’ are NOT AGAINST racism but FOR.”

Here’s what others had to say:

Three days after the row erupted, GB News finally made the call to cut Harri loose, The Guardian reports.

Friends of the commentator and former spokesman for Boris Johnson, told the paper: “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’.”

Meanwhile, right-wing fans really weren’t lying when they vowed to stop watching the channel following Harri’s move on Tuesday.

Business editor Liam Halligan and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero attracted no measurable audience to their show between 1pm and 1.30pm the following day, according to viewing figures produced by rating agency Barb.

Later on Wednesday, at 5pm, GB News’ audience briefly dipped down to zero during a programme co-hosted by ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy and former Ukip spokesperson Alex Phillips.

For context:

And yet, despite the network’s fiery rebuttal of Harri’s actions, some of the channel’s other presenters have attempted to defend their colleague.

Neil Oliver, who hosts a weekly show, wrote in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s controversy: “My GB News teammate Guto Harri is right to say and do as he sees fit. I do the same. That’s the ethos of the channel. Free speech. We don’t all agree with each other – that’s the point, or else where’s the debate?”

But all that seemed to do was stoke the fires of outrage among many:

GB News attracted strong viewing figures when it launched at the start of June, with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in for its hotly anticipated first night.

However, ratings – which are measured using monitoring boxes attached to thousands of homes – have since plummeted, according to The Guardian.

On Wednesday night, the figures eventually pulled back from zero to a peak of 47,000 viewers during Dan Wootton’s late night show.

Andrew Neil, the face of GB News and chair of its board, announced he would be taking leave after just two weeks on air after what he described as a “rocky start”.

He pledged to return “before the summer is out” but is understood to have gone on holiday to his home in the south of France.

However, no public resumption date has been given for his flagship 8pm show, and we doubt this week’s debacle will encourage him to hasten his return.

Indy100 has contacted GB News for comment.

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