Robert Peston has said that every day he keeps his job as a white middle-class man is a “bonus”.
The 61 year-old political editor at ITV made the comments whilst being interviewed as a guest on a podcast.
He argued that he was lucky to get his career break when he did, explaining that the societal drive for diversity in the workplace has made competition more fierce.
The broadcaster, known as much for his pauses throughout questions as he is for his journalistic scoops, said: “My Great Uncle used to say, ‘every day that I wake up is a bonus,’ and quite often I think ‘every day I keep my show as a white middle-class male is a bonus’.
“I am very fortunate that I got my breaks before people noticed the genuine terrible discrimination there is around the place including in [the media] industry against women and against people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“I wonder, truthfully, if I were 30 whether all sorts of doors that were open to me then would be open to me today, because the competition is much more intense.
“The pool of talent now from which our industry draws, and fortunately all responsible industries draw, is much broader.
“We are looking for different things and we are looking for different voices, and that’s a really good thing.”
‘As soon as people think I am not there on merit, I guess I’ll have to go’
He pointed out to the host on the Fortunately…with Fi and Jane show that everyone on his team is a woman or a person from an ethnic minority.
He said of his colleagues: “It is the best team I have ever worked with. They are phenomenally bright, creative, and [it is] just a transformed working environment for the better.”
In addition to his comments on being an employed middle-class white male, he hinted that he may consider leaving his role soon.
He said: “I am astonishingly fortunate to do what I do. As soon as people think I am not there on merit, I guess I’ll have to go.”
Last week he received a barrage of both criticism and praise on social media after talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer challenged him on why he was not asking tougher questions during government briefings on the pandemic.
The broadcaster’s show – Peston – is aired every Wednesday night on ITV at 9pm which usually has around 500,000 viewers but that jumped to one million throughout the pandemic.
He started his career in print journalism, working for a number of papers and held several senior editorial roles at the Financial Times before moving into broadcast. He became Economics Editor of BBC News in 2013 and joined ITV News in 2015.