Radio host fired after tweeting photo comparing royal baby Archie to chimpanzee: 'Casual racism is alive and well'

Erin Donnelly

A British radio host announced he’s been fired following uproar over a controversial photo he tweeted comparing the royal baby to a chimpanzee.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. An overjoyed Harry said he and Meghan are "thinking" about names. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)
BBC Radio has fired a host after he tweeted a photo of a chimpanzee and joked that it was the royal baby, who made his debut alongside parents Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Wednesday. (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)

On Wednesday, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry introduced their infant son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, to the media. Shortly afterwards, BBC Radio 5 Live host Danny Baker posted an old black-and-white photo of a couple accompanied by a well-dressed chimpanzee, captioning it “royal baby leaves hospital.” As London’s Metro newspaper reports, the tweet quickly sparked outcry and accusations of racism against the duchess, whose biracial background has been targeted by trolls.

Baker, a longtime radio and TV personality, deleted the photo and tweeted an apology that many felt fell short. The 61-year-old claimed that he hadn’t considered the racist connotations of the photo because his “mind [is] not diseased” — a statement that critics said put the blame on those offended and made light of mental health issues. Though he said he was “appalled” by the “silly unthinking gag,” he dismissed accusations of racism and insisted he would have “used same stupid pic for any other royal birth or [politician] Boris Johnson or even one of my own” because it’s “a funny pic.”

Danny Baker talking outside BBC Broadcasting House in London after his BBC London programme was axed.   (Photo by Philip Toscano/PA Images via Getty Images)
Danny Baker denied any racist intentions behind the "grotesque" incident. (Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Images via Getty Images)

Despite denying any ill intentions, Baker announced Thursday morning that his “enormous mistake” cost him his job. He railed against the termination, tweeting that his BBC bosses “literally threw me under the bus.”

“The call to fire me from @bbc5live was a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity,” he wrote. “Took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet and the BBC must uphold blah blah blah. Literally threw me under the bus. Could hear the suits knees knocking.”

Though some supporters are calling Baker’s firing an overreaction — “If, like me, you don't see the color of Meghan's skin, it was indeed just a joke about posh people,” read one comment — many are celebrating the BBC’s decision.

“Meghan has been subject to horrific/veiled racist abuse and prejudice online and in print since the start of their relationship,” noted British news anchor Charlene White in a Twitter thread. “Of which we are ALL aware.

“To post a pic picturing a 3-day old baby of mixed heritage as a monkey, then claim it was a joke? That’s old-school prejudice and racism at its peak. And for a trusted broadcaster working at a public service broadcaster to feed that prejudice? It’s unacceptable. And to claim ‘ignorance,’ and give a half-hearted apology — again full of jokey ‘banter’ — despite people highlighting just how clearly offensive it is, is also unacceptable. That’s not the world we live in now. Those who live in privilege must be held to account.”

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