Ms Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, caused the father of a sick one-week-old girl to be dogpiled by supporters of Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson (yes, apparently some still exist) when she tweeted that Omar Salem was a “Labour activist”.
The backlash was severe and deserved.
In rushed Rob Burley, who edits BBC TV shows which feature Ms Kuenssberg, to tweet the following:
2) The information about their political views would be part of the picture and it’s perfectly proper for journalists to provide that information. It’s not a judgement on the person’s sincerity or argument but a fact.
— Rob Burley (@RobBurl) September 18, 2019
It’s a very interesting point, coming as it does from the editor of a show that has the opportunity to provide information about the political views of people appearing on Politics Live every weekday and also on Sundays, but doesn’t.
This Writer anticipates a flurry of tweets outing the guests on that show, from now on.
Today (September 20), the show’s listing suggests that panellists will include Sherelle Jacobs (Telegraph columnist, rabidly Leave-supporting), Liam Halligan (Sunday Telegraph economics columnist, right-wing), Zing Tsjeng (executive editor of Vice UK, which refused to recognise the National Union of Journalists when its employees voted to unionise – even though the company’s branches in the US had unionised), and Trevor Phillips (former EHRC chairman, Blairite Labour). Will any of them be listed as such?
And what about Ms Kuenssberg’s own political views? They must also be “part of the picture” and it would be “perfectly proper” for Mr Burley to provide that information. Perhaps he had not carried out his own “thought experiment”, as he has never done so.
What about Jo Coburn’s political loyalties, or Andrew Neil’s? Or Faisal Islam’s, as he was set to host Politics Live today?
And of course Mr Burley failed to acknowledge that Ms Kuenssberg had flagged up Mr Salem’s Twitter address to her followers with the message “This is him!”, so they all knew who to dogpile.
At the very least, as Mike Harding points out, it’s “whataboutery”:
I think it would have been relevant had he been planted there and not been primarily the father of a sick kid. The fact that Bojo stumbled on him while looking for a photo op says it all. In Ireland they call your tweet “whataboutery”. A glib turning of the story to suit oneself.
— Mike Harding #lightacandlefotheEU (@HardingMike) September 19, 2019
And it was also a successful bid to drag attention away from the issue that Mr Salem had raised – the diabolical underfunding of the National Health Service, endangering the lives of newborn children, by a government of hypocrites who then used it for a photo opportunity to pretend that everything is hunky-dory.
While Mr Salem has been dogpiled and Ms Kuenssberg reviled, Boris Johnson has sailed away, back into his “la-la land” of lies.
When will he be challenged over the issues raised by Mr Salem?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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