Kuenssberg the troll: She started a Twitter dogpile on the father of a sick child

Laura Kuenssberg: Rather than report on deficiencies at an NHS hospital caused by Tory underfunding, she triggered a Twitter dogpile on a member of the public who challenge Boris Johnson about it.

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.

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.

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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No Comments

  1. Medusa September 20, 2019 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Mike, who is Mark? And, what did he say? You’ve said his question is valid but given not indication of who he is or what his question or conclusion was.

    • Mike Sivier September 21, 2019 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Can’t you see his tweet?

  2. timfrom September 20, 2019 at 5:58 am - Reply

    First Numbers Bint and now Propaganda Gob are fond of a bit of bitch-piling, aren’t they? What is it about these needy, self-absorbed narcissists? Why isn’t their job satisfaction enough on its own, that they need to lead hypocritical moral crusades too?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they both resigned (or got fired, please God) from their “jobs” and stood for Parliament (LibDem of course!)

  3. Tony Dean September 20, 2019 at 6:48 am - Reply

    First rule in the Tory government/party manual for deflecting criticism undermine the critic.

  4. wildswimmerpete September 20, 2019 at 7:10 am - Reply

    And Kuenssburg isn’t? Pot calling the kettle black. Kuenssburg, Nick Robinson together with the rest of the BBC’s senior Newsroom staff are all staunch Tories. Robinson himself is a Tory activist.
    The cure is obvious. Starve the beast. Ditch your TV Licence and watch catch-up TV from ITV Hub, All4 My5 etc when you don’t require a TV Licence (except for BBC iPlayer which does need one). You don’t need a licence to listen to the radio as the Radio Licence was abolished in 1971.

  5. Sandy September 20, 2019 at 10:18 am - Reply

    I wonder whether Laura K would’ve bothered tweeting about this topic if Mr Salem was a conservative activist? Something along the lines of, “Turns out the father of the sick child is a Tory activist and even he challenged the PM.”
    Somehow I doubt that. But if she had, then no doubt the Mail et al would be up in arms decrying the BBC for its ‘left-wing’ bias.

    Also, what exactly does ‘activist’ mean? The unwritten assumption in LK’s very disingenuous tweet is that he’s a life-long tribal LP member, fanatical supporter of Momentum and a full on ‘red under the bed’ Corbynista with a serious chip on his shoulder. She should’ve put a ‘wink,wink, nudge, nudge’ emojo at the end of her tweet as her implied use of the word ‘activist’ was about as subtle as my description above.

    The above may seem a petty point but it’s of interest to me because if I’d been in Mr Salem’s shoes then I too could class as a ‘Labour activist’ when nothing could be further from the truth, for the following reasons:

    I’ve never been a card carrying member of any political party but I always used to vote Labour in General Elections until a decade ago. Since then I’ve always voted Green in general elections. This is because my Labour MP has such a huge majority (30,000+) she can manage without my vote and I didn’t/don’t want the poor sod standing as a Green to lose his/her deposit. A kind of protest vote if you will to try and make Labour take green policies more seriously.
    In council elections I swing between Labour and Green depending on the policies put forward by the candidates involved. In the Referendum I voted remain, and in the EU elections I voted Green (she got in.) Hardly the record of a committed Labour ‘activist’ is it!

    However, my parent’s MP was Ester McVey and, as my parent’s full-time carer, I had some dealings with Fester McVile. As such I ended up thoroughly despising the woman, but I personally couldn’t vote against her in the 2015 General Election as I lived in a different constituency. So instead I spent some of my precious spare time volunteering for the Labour candidate as a doorstop campaigner.
    Labour won, overturning EM’s majority of just under 2,500 with a hardly impressive new one of just over 400 for Margaret Greenwood. In the 2017 election I did likewise as MG’s majority was so small and I both liked and admired her as a constituency MP for my parents. She won again, this time with a majority of just under 5,400.

    Had I been in a similar position to Mr Salem collaring Johnson about my sick child then perhaps LK would also consider me to be a ‘Labour activist’ because of my fairly light campaigning on behalf of Labour.
    But if she’d bothered to check with me first then she’d have found out that if the Lib-dems or Greens were best placed to oust Fester McVile then I’d have campaigned for them instead. My sole reason for campaigning in 2015 was to oust McVile by any legal means possible. Nobody, not even a Lib-dem, could possibly be as bad as McVile!
    Likewise with the 2017 GE. I campaigned for Labour simply because they had the best anti-austerity manifesto. Further, had Margaret Greenwood had a large majority prior to the 2017 election I wouldn’t have bothered campaigning for her at all. But a 417 vote majority was to close and I wanted to do my best to stop another Tory getting in, especially with their disability bashing agenda. I, by the way, do not have any disabilities… so far, fingers crossed.
    Given the above, I too could’ve been called a ‘labour activist’ by LK, and ended up being dogpiled, except I’m not on either twitter or face book…. Thank god!

    Maybe LK did carry out a full fact check on Mr S and he is indeed a dedicated Labour activist? But so what.
    In a fair and sane society it shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference what kind of activist Mr S actually was/is regarding the issues raised by his challenge to Johnson. It’s those issues that should be being addressed and not his ‘activism’ of whatever stripe or colour.
    This highlighting of Mr S’s activism (real, imagined or exaggerated) puts LK’s tweet into the ‘Look, there’s a squirrel over there’ type of deflection from the actual issues raised.
    That’s hardly the actions of an impartial political journalist, and she should be well and truly hauled over the coals for that alone.
    Factor in that she was aiming her tweet at a father with a seriously ill week old baby to worry about then, as a supposedly experienced journalist, she’s either as thick as Fester McVile not to realise the impact her tweet would have. Or she’s as vicious as McVile if she did realise it and posted it anyway; probably a bit of both. Either way, she should be doubled hauled over the coals, but I bet she isn’t. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she ends up with some kind of knighthood or what have you for ‘services rendered.’

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