This Writer is one of those who argued against Tom Watson when he appeared on Twitter in support of Laura Kuenssberg.
It should be made clear from the outset that he wasn’t “bombarded by Twitter users” as a result. Anyone with as large a following as Mr Watson who passes such a controversial comment may expect a high volume of responses.
My own belief is that the spontaneous response to Ms Kuenssberg didn’t undermine Mr Corbyn’s speech, but rather underlined his message that the BBC’s reporting of him is irresponsible.
I said as much in my own tweeted response: “Did you not realise that she was being hissed because Laura Kuenssberg does her job so badly?”
Tom didn’t deign to respond directly to me, although his “I understand people hold many views on how she does her job but… hissing at her because of those views is wrong” may have been an indirect reply. It’s full of weasel words, though. People didn’t hiss at her because of their views but because of the way she does her work. And his description of it as “wrong” is his own opinion and no more valid than those he was attacking.
I was then challenged by a Watson follower called Mark Smith, who wrote: “We gain nothing from booing like that – boorish and pathetic.” Again, that is nothing more than the writer’s personal opinion.
I countered by pointing out: “Maybe, but also direct and heartfelt.” As it clearly was. Mr Smith then went away.
Meanwhile, Tom clearly wasn’t having a good time, and ended up transmitting his sarcastic “hissing revolution” tweet.
So first he tried to set his own opinion above those of the rest of us, then in response to his self-dubbed “hissing revolution” he had a hissy fit.
This is not fitting behaviour for the deputy leader of the Labour Party.
Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, has criticised party supporters who booed and hissed at the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg at a speech by Jeremy Corbyn, saying it undermined the leader’s message.
The senior Labour MP said he was embarrassed at the “rude and inappropriate” behaviour when Kuenssberg was doing her job.
Watson made his views about the incident clear on Twitter, saying: “Hissing is not the answer and it undermined Jeremy’s message.”
He added: “I understand people hold many views on how she does her job but … hissing at her because of those views is wrong.”
Throughout the evening, he was bombarded by Twitter users defending the right of the audience to show their upset at Kuenssberg through hissing and booing.
Watson replied to many of them, sometimes sarcastically, telling one person: “Oh yes I can see it now, the hissing revolution. I think you might be onto something there. Please write it all up in a pamphlet.”*
Perhaps Mr Watson should have taken a leaf from Jeremy Corbyn’s book. When Ms Kuenssberg was hissed, he quieted those making the noise and then responded courteously. The point had been made and he knew he didn’t need to make a drama out of it.
Meanwhile, social media news site The Canary presented the other side of the story, and did it rather well:
The mainstream media has closed ranks to protect the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, but the public aren’t falling for it.
On Thursday, Labour supporters who contribute to Kuenssberg’s wages (through the TV licence fee) expressed criticism of her biased coverage by booing and hissing when she began to ask Jeremy Corbyn a question.
There has since been wall-to-wall media coverage condemning the Labour supporters and protecting Kuenssberg from criticism.
Criticism of Kuenssberg and the BBC’s political coverage is entirely legitimate. The bias stems from a number of issues:
•A business- and Conservative-oriented regulatory body and leadership.
•The Conservative government squeezing the broadcaster’s budget, leading its journalists to fear for the salaries and way of life they have become accustomed to.
And the manifestation of these fundamental issues is very clear to social media users.
From smearing supporters of a petition calling for Kuenssberg to be dismissed as sexist to deflecting public criticism of her, the media has clearly endeavored to protect the journalist from accountability.
But the public really aren’t buying it.**
Examples of the public not buying it followed, and they were many.
This, from Die Originale, was fairly representative: “The booing and hissing of Laura Kuenssberg wasn’t an attempt to stifle free press, it was an attempt to hold it to account.”
‘I’m alright Jack’ tried sarcasm: “How dare these people speak out of turn, express any criticism of Laura Kuenssberg or any public figure; don’t they know their place?”
Possibly the most pointed came from This Writer’s old friend Kanjin Tor: “The people defending Laura Kuenssberg after a midly & very British show of disapproval by the audience would probably defend Lord Haw Haw.”
Tom Watson should ask himself if he really wants to be among them.
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