ITV has apologised to Stormzy after publishing a misleading headline about his comments on racism in the UK.
The broadcaster also amended the headline following widespread backlash and posted the following explanation on Sunday afternoon: “Yesterday we reported on an interview with Stormzy in an Italian newspaper who, when asked if the UK was a racist country, he said: “Definitely, 100%.” We have now made this clear in the headline on our original story”.
In its apology posted later that day, ITV wrote: “we would like to apologise to Stormzy for any misunderstanding”.
The grime rapper, 26, originally discussed the topic of racism during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Asked whether the UK was still a racist country, he said: “Definitely, 100%. It’s like: ‘Oh no, we’re not racist’. But there’s a lot of racism in the country.
“The difficult thing with the UK is, as you said, in Italy it’s a clear problem, whereas trying to explain that Britain is a racist country is the most difficult thing ever”.
Unfortunately ITV, among other publications including The Standard and The Sun, published a headline that read “Rapper Stormzy says UK is ’100 per cent’ racist”.
This prompted Stormzy accused the media of “intentionally spinning (his) words” after he said he believed the UK was still a racist country.
The rapper responded to a number of news reports in a tweet on Sunday morning, expressing frustration with being misquoted.
He told the media outlets “please don’t try beg it in the future”, meaning that from now on they should not ask him for any favours.
Stormzy, who backed Labour in the last election, said Boris Johnson was a “figurehead” whose comments encouraged “hate among others” in the UK.
The prime minister has been criticised for using racially-charged or offensive language, including describing the Queen being greeted in Commonwealth countries by “flag-waving piccaninnies” and then-prime minister Tony Blair being met by “tribal warriors” with “watermelon smiles” while on a trip to the Congo.
Stormzy said: “If the top person can openly say this racist thing – the ‘piccaninnies’ remarks, ‘watermelon smiles’, comparing Muslim women to a letter box.
“If that is our figurehead, the top man, the leader we have to follow, and he openly says these things, he encourages hate among others.”