“It was monkey in a top hat or something.”
Danny Baker, an English comedy writer and journalist, was fired by the BBC for a Thursday-night tweet comparing the royal baby to a monkey in a suit.
Baker, 61, was relieved of his radio host duties amid mounting outrage over the post, which included a black-and-white photo showing a chimpanzee holding hands with a posh couple. The caption read: “Royal baby leaves the hospital.”
After quickly deleting the tweet, Baker apologized for what he called a “stupid unthinking gag.” He said he had been commenting on the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the British royal family.
“Was supposed to be joke about royals vs circus animals in posh clothes but interpreted as about monkeys & race, so rightly deleted,” he said in a series of follow-up tweets. “Royal watching not my forte. Also, guessing it was my turn in the barrel.”
Once again. Sincere apologies for the stupid unthinking gag pic earlier. Was supposed to be joke about Royals vs circus animals in posh clothes but interpreted as about monkeys & race, so rightly deleted. Royal watching not my forte.
Also, guessing it was my turn in the barrel. pic.twitter.com/86cQGbAhDc
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) May 8, 2019
But he also suggested that his critics were the real racists, saying: “Never occurred to me because, well, mind not diseased.”
However, Twitter users and media commentators would not forgive Baker for what they deemed a racist reference to Meghan Markle, who on Monday gave birth to the first mixed-race baby in modern British royal history. The dutchess of Sussex has faced bigotry over her nationality and race since it was revealed in 2016 that she was dating Prince Harry. The couple married last year in a high-profile ceremony at Windsor Castle.
On Friday, the BBC announced it had acceded to calls for Baker’s firing.
“This was a serious error of judgment and goes against the values we as a station aim to embody,” the public broadcaster said in a statement. “Danny’s a brilliant broadcaster but will no longer be presenting a weekly show with us.”
Before and after the official announcement, Baker mocked the BBC and the media for what he suggested was its self-serious and politically correct reaction.
In a tweet Friday, he reported that he had been fired by phone in a call he called “a masterclass of pompous faux-gravity.”
“Took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet and the BBC must uphold blah blah blah,” he said. “Literally threw me under the bus. Could hear the suits knees knocking.”
Earlier, standing on the doorstep of his $2.6 million home in London, Baker denied to reporters that he is racist, though he seemed unwilling to take the drama too seriously.
First wearing a robe and then a fez hat, Baker told a Daily Mail reporter: “I put up silly pictures all the time. But that’s all. I think even you must realize that it was [just] a mistake.”
He added: “I put up a silly photo for a joke. It was monkey in a top hat or something.”
Baker was the latest is a long series of public figures to face backlash and career repercussions over an insensitive joke or insufficiently woke comment. Some have warned that social media has fueled the rise of a “callout culture” that rewards victimhood and stifles conversation.