John Humphrys, the host of BBC Radio 4’s Today program, has come under fire after making controversial gender pay inequality remarks in a leaked conversation with North America editor Jon Sopel.
Humphrys’ comments were caught on a microphone Monday during an off-air discussion before co-presenting the radio show with former China Editor Carrie Gracie, who recently resigned from her position in protest against gender pay discrimination at the network. She also suggested that some of the BBC’s higher earning men should take pay cuts.
The conversation began with Humphrys asking Sopel how much of his salary he was prepared to "hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her?"
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 remarked, "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?"
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) 11 января 2018 г.
Humphrys reportedly dismissed the remark, saying it was just "silly banter between old mates," but a source in the broadcaster told The Guardian that "management are deeply unimpressed" with the situation and the presenter regrets what has been said.
Former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, who won an age discrimination case against the BBC after being dropped from her show in 2011, said on Twitter, "You should hear the tone of the exchange — base, smug and condescending."
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) 11 января 2018 г.
Many users on social media have also condemned Humphrys for joking about the problem.
Not listening to #r4today now.— Ruth Lampard (@ruth_lampard) 12 января 2018 г.
#JohnHumphrys is massively overpaid & ill disciplined & fails to prepare for interviews, delivering poor & ill judged comments on and off air.
Meanwhile excellent & competent #BBCwomen are silenced & underpaid in breach of U.K. law.
Carrie Gracie did PPE at Oxford and also went to Edinburgh — John Humphrys doesn’t have any academic qualifications and left school at 15. More that just equal pay for BBC to address — not sure Humphrys is qualified to be where he is. #r4today— VoiceOfAmbridge (@voiceofbramley) 12 января 2018 г.
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) 11 января 2018 г.
A BBC spokesperson said, "This was an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets."
"The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and, as we have said, we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay," the spokesperson added.
Gracie’s resignation was the latest aftershock since the BBC was forced to disclose the salaries of its top earning employees last year, revealing that two-thirds of them were men. Gracie said she was offered a 33 percent pay raise, but she rejected it, claiming she wanted equality, not more money.