Standards of journalism at the BBC slipped to a new low yesterday when political editor Laura Kuenssberg outed a man who challenged Boris Johnson over falling NHS standards as a “Labour activist” – triggering a Twitter dogpile on this man.
Apparently it did not matter to Ms Kuenssberg that Omar Salem was the father of a sick seven-day-old girl and had been terribly worried about his daughter’s well-being. She considered it far more important that the world should know he has campaigned for the Labour Party in the past.
Are you saying he knew about De Pfeffel’s visit, got his daughter to fake an illness and then hung around the hospital all night so that he could ambush him and trick him into lying that he wasn’t their doing a PR when the press was 10ft away? No? Then what does it matter?
— Mark (@markwh2001) September 19, 2019
Mark’s question is valid. What was Ms Kuenssberg trying to say, exactly? And if it was as he suggested, then should she not be hauled up before the BBC board and sacked on the spot?
It is not the place of any journalist – even the BBC’s political editor – to heap more stress upon the father of a sick child who is only seven days old.
Or, put more succinctly: who the hell does Kuenssberg think she is?
It seems she has not noticed that a campaign was launched earlier this week, calling for people to report the activities of those who troll innocent members of the public in exactly the way she has done.
And consider this: Even a doctor at the hospital has written about the shortfall in care there:
I was one of the doctors who met Boris Johnson today. This was a highly staged press event in a newly refurbished hospital ward at Whipps Cross hospital where the prime minister met a few select members of staff and patients. This event completely brushed over the harsh realities of this chronically underfunded, understaffed and poorly resourced hospital.
I’m so glad that Omar Salem said the things he did. He was just telling the truth about what it is like to be on the receiving end of poor staffing levels and under-resourcing.
Whipps Cross is particularly understaffed and under-resourced so people don’t get the care that they need as promptly as they need.
And this visit was not reflective of the realities of working at this hospital. Johnson was taken to the nicest ward in the hospital; there were flowers on display and classical music was playing in the background. I wish the prime minister could have seen some of the other wards, which are nothing like what he saw today. He should come on a night shift and see how everything doesn’t function at two in the morning.
There are not enough staff on any level – nursing, physiotherapy, doctors. It is just chronically understaffed. The building is falling to pieces. It is either too cold or too hot. I could go on and on.
I love medicine, but you just can’t do your job properly. You don’t have time to talk to patients or families. Everybody is really demoralised. There’s no point in complaining because you know nothing will be done.
Isn’t this exactly what Omar Salem was saying?
But Ms Kuenssberg turned it around and made it all about him being a “Labour activist”. And what does that mean, exactly?
I think she – and the BBC – has a huge amount of explaining to do.
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