April 12, 2021

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‘Please do better,’ Thuli Madonsela tells eNCA amid mask backlash

2 min read

Former Public Protector advocate Thuli Madonsela has joined many who have condemned independent news channel eNCA for its response to allegations that its political journalist Lindsey Dentlinger was racist towards certain black politicians.

A video clip of Dentlinger has gone viral, showing her asking several MPs to put on their masks before interviewing them. However she is also seen conducting interviews with white MPs including the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) John Steenhuisen and FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, without masks.

“(eNCA), you can do better, please do better. Your duty is to explain the discrepancy between the (mask up) treatment of two MPs that came after each other, one white one black. Also, remedial action is not a choice between dismissal and denial,” Madonsela said.

“Your statement does not explain why the MPs were treated differently. It only tells the public what was not the reason behind the discrepancy, leaving the public still  at a loss regarding why both MPs were not asked to #MaskUp #SocialJustice”

After being accused of ignoring racism on its platform, eNCA was quick to defend Dentlinger in a lengthy statement and said she was a seasoned journalist who was anything but racist.

No apology yet from eNCA for racism furore

The news channel said it has engaged Lindsey Dentlinger and has labelled the outrage which has been sparked by the clip as unfair.

“In an intense live broadcast environment like the Budget Speech coverage, our journalists are under pressure to remain compliant while delivering fair, accurate and balanced news. The journalist had to contend with being live on air and taking producer instructions via her earpiece and unfortunately failed to request that the interviewee wear a mask. Criticism to this extent leveled at a journalist under these circumstances is unfair and unfortunate. Comments and some video content that are currently being shared is maliciously misleading.” said John Bailey, Managing Editor of eNCA.

It seems eNCA’s statement responding to the backlash did more harm than good. Many want the channel to not only take against Dentlinger, they are also demanding an apology. Political analyst, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, who himself (like Thuli Madonsela) has featured on the channel, described its statement as a “non-apology full of irrelevancies.”