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Friday 8 January 2016

Laura Kuenssberg - Not Good Enough

Of all news sources in the UK, whether print, online or broadcast, the BBC has been and remains the most trusted. Its journalism is perceived to set the standard for others to follow. The Corporation is as admired for its impartiality and objectivity as it is despised by the partisan and politically motivated, an illustration that it is doing something right. So the disappointment at any fall in its standards is that much more keenly felt.
Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)

That the perceived fall in standards came via a long-serving presenter and anchor, and the Corporations’s political editor, has only made matters worse. The problem can be put directly: a shadow minister, Stephen Doughty, declared his resignation from Jeremy Corbyn’s team on Wednesday, live on the Daily Politics. This event occurred five minutes before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions.

David Cameron was, in those intervening five minutes, made aware of the resignation and used the information to mock Corbyn. That Doughty’s resignation was not spontaneous, that presenter and anchor Andrew Neil had suggested it earlier in the day on hearing that a junior shadow minister was “considering” resigning, and that political editor Laura Kuenssberg had actively solicited Doughty’s appearance, was then let slip.

This happened in a blog by Andrew Alexander, one of the Daily Politics team, titled “Resignation! Making the news on the Daily Politics”. The blog was later pulled, but a cached copy is still available (HERE). As Doughty was, earlier in the day, merely “considering” resigning, the question has to be put as to whether BBC staff were complicit in some kind of encouragement, an incitement, an inducement even.

Both Neil and Ms Kuenssberg would have known that the timing of Doughty’s appearance and his announcement would give Cameron an advantage at PMQs. Both are equally aware, as are all those who work for the Corporation, that the Tories, now with a Parliamentary majority, are leaning on the BBC to make cuts, while all the time whining long and loud about non-existent left-wing bias in its broadcasts.

But the chief culprit has to be Ms Kuenssberg: her reporting on the shadow cabinet reshuffle has been sloppy and tabloidesque, for instance telling viewers and readers about what Corbyn “wants” without actually getting that information from the Labour leader first. She, like so many of the Pundit Establishment, failed to notice that Michael Dugher was sacked because he was perceived as useless.

And the impression, only reinforced after Alexander’s blog was pulled, is given that she was central to not merely reporting the news, but creating it, and to the advantage of the Government. On top of that, Zelo Street understands that another BBC programme has recently shied away from running a story that could seriously embarrass a cabinet minister - and all this going on at a time the Corporation’s charter is under review.

That would be as in under review by the same Government that was handed the PMQs advantage, and won’t have that cabinet minister embarrassed. Ms Kuenssberg, as the successor to John Cole, Andrew Marr and Nick Robinson, should have risen above the kind of tawdry exercise that took place on Wednesday. She did not. And it is for that reason, more than any other, that her behaviour in the Corporation’s service is not good enough.


Anonymous said...

She's an absolute disgrace - her and Norman Smith have utter contempt for Corbyn, and neither make any serious attempt to hide it.

Andy McDonald said...

Shades of The Day Today about the entire thing.

rob said...

Bullyingdon Entryism strikes at the BBC to discredit it with those left of centre (however that is calculated)? Or just cowardice in the face of licence fee "negotiations"?

Bob said...

Her piece on the re-shuffle as the lead story on Wednesday's 10 o'clock news was dreadful: Personal opinion dressed up as fact has no place from a senior BBC reporter.She was a lightweight on Newsnight and now promotion has made her totally out of her depth.
I was told by a BBC news employee that Kamal Ahmed was warned to go softly on Osborne's recent trip to China. A style of reporting he seems to have maintained ever since.

Anonymous said...

James Harding responsible for all BBC editorial policy is ex Times/Murdoch man so I favour the former but reinforced by licence fee pressure

Anonymous said...

I've been observing Ms Kuenssberg's progressively apparent bias and open hostility to Corbyn for some time. On Wednesday, exasperated, I finally unfollowed her on Twitter. That's about as damning as can be, these days.

Shawlrat said...

I was watching bbcdp when she turned to Stephen Doughty. She didn't say a word - the look was enough to tell me that the whole thing had been a set up. He allowed himself to be used in support of her agenda.
I'm a Labour member, not particularly a Corbyn supporter, but this incident showed any vestige of impartiality in political coverage has gone.
I would think more of Ms Kuennsberg and her colleagues if they had said at the outset that they had arranged for the MP to resign on air. If the resignation was such a coup and there was nothing to hide, why delete the accompanying briefing?
Shabby stuff IMO
I have complained to the BBC, not that it will make any difference.

stylescreamer said...

Kuennsberg has NEVER shown any inclination in any of her interviews/presentations that she is a real journalist by her continuous subjectivity towards Tory support! All her Newsnight interviews have been twisted in support of the Toey view with open hostility& fabrications toward SNP&Labour candidates! Bbc's once famous and admired investigative and ground breaking journalism is almost non existent.It is now just a Mirror image of Fox America with POUNDING of a topic to the exclusion of all other news and its selective, pointless delivery of audience targeted bias& propaganda! Sad to see its demise in disgrace!

AndyC said...

Do the BBC actually think the Tories will be grateful for its news and current affairs dept bending over backwards in support? Its reward will be even more cuts to funding.

Leigh Richards said...

Sorry guys but if the 'reshuffle' hadn't been such a shambles the media wouldn't have had a stick with which to easily beat Jeremy Corbyn with. Let's hope Corbyn and his advisors learn the lessons of this and don't give the right wing media and the tories more open goals in the future.

Anonymous said...

No surprise to me at all. BBC News slid well to the right years ago and has been sliding further downhill ever since. Why do you think Murdochised greasy Neil and morally corrupt MacKenzie were employed by them?

Kuenssberg is merely the latest ranting righty. It's entirely appropriate she has a crooked mouth that looks like it's about to slide off the right side of her chin. On top of that, she's obviously been to the new BBC School of Twitches and Arm Jerking, all of it designed to make the propagandist look "dynamic." Actually, it makes them look like bad imitations of a Thunderbirds puppet. Norman Smith is the most obvious clownish example.

Mind you BBC News Wimmin generally have been sent to the Hyacinth Bucket School of Elocution and the Katie Price Academy of Department. None of them can get past about four or five words without muttering "Uh" or "Er," a bit like a bad supply teacher with breathing difficulties.

The fact is British news peddlers have become an outright laughing stock now there are alternative and more reliable sources of information. All of them, no exceptions, are members of the Ministry of Truth (UK branch). Orwell got that bit bang on. None of them would know the truth if they tripped over it coming out of a Canary Wharf wine bar. Which is why nobody trusts a word they say or publish.

Operation Mockingbird anybody?

Anonymous said...

You think Kuenssberg is bad?

Try Katie Razzall on Newsnight. She was appointed last year by the editor Ian Katz, who said he long admired Razzall's "distinctive voice and original reporting" and praised her "versatility."

By "distinctive" Katz probably means a weird tendency to pronounce "there" as "thar" and "fast" as "farst." She sounds like she went to one of those third rate private schools in peculiar places like Godalming. Apart from that Razzall is about as useful as Kuenssberg. Which is to say a waste of space. But what do you expect from a programme that employed the shouty old tory loon, Paxman? And why do you think C4 News re-employs so many of them?

None of the media have had the courage to investigate the activities of editors - for instance De Pear at C4 News - in broadcast and print news, the reason being that is where the real power to create and direct propaganda rests. Most of the propagandist presenters front men and women are mere opportunists and careerists who would sell their arse to be up on the podium at year end to receive a Back Slappers News Award from the rest of the assembled cowards.

The fact is broadcast and print news in this country is controlled by at most a few hundred unaccountable individuals. So are the major "news" agencies. Their twisting of the truth has become so endemic and corrupt they've come to believe the illusion instead of openly questioning it.

You can bet, for instance, Jon Snow will wait until he's retired before expressing his "concern" at the quality of news reporting. A pity he didn't think of that before instead of devoting so much time to his stupid ties and socks.

Mainstream news journalists bear a large responsibility for the corrupt state of this country. The very people who are supposed to represent democracy have actually helped poison it, and none of us should stop telling them that every second of every day. They should be left with nowhere to hide, not even behind Murdoch and Dacre.

Future liccer said...

The pulling of the blog is the most interesting facet of this story. I would love to know whether tbe BBC has offered any reason for this, it does seem rather a damning move.

Rich Johnston said...

Nonsense, this is a good old fashioned scoop and totally non-partisan. The show would have done the exact same thing with a Tory.

Rich Johnston said...

If Zelo Street "understands it" maybe they should run that story. Otherwise, this story smacks of... what was it? Being "despised by the partisan and politically motivated"...

Rivo said...

This is an interesting area of debate.

On the one hand, I think that certain elements of the media were determined to paint the Labour reshuffle in the worst light no matter how it went. Corbyn and his inner circle are not slick media operators (part of their appeal to many) and so ceded too much control of the narrative to their numerous enemies.
I do not blame the BBC for covering the tantrums of the malcontents either.
That said, I think they spent far too much time on it, and allowed what should have been an embarassing but ultimately trivial matter to overshadow more serious business, such as the North of England's ongoing flood issues, or Jeremy Hunt's cack-handed incompetence in the junior doctor's strikes and nurses bursary issues.

Unknown said...

You're totally missing the point.

Unknown said...

If this were any other broadcaster or newspaper, it could have been regarded as a great scoop and a great piece of journalism. However this is the BBC paid by the public to report impartially in the public interest.
The test is whether it would have been acceptable for BBC journalists to make a similar arrangement with someone from the cabinet,similarly timed to disadvantage one of the players in pmqs. I think different people would have been complaining, but with real justification!

Rich Johnston said...

I think it would have been just as justifiable. But yes, in that case it would be others complaining and Zelo Street defending.

Anonymous said...

I don't see an issue with the BBC breaking the story as a scoop. However they contrived to have "political impact", and gloated about this in a blog. Along with the completely biased reporting by Kuenssberg since before Corbyn was even elected (and not even masking her scorn for him) it is totally unacceptable. Let me be clear: I am not a Corbyn supporter and if she and her colleagues had behaved in the same way towards another political leader, of any party, I would feel the same.

Anonymous said...

@ Rich Johnston.

You don't half talk some bollocks.

Kuenssberg and her ilk are supposed to be "objective." But she and they are nothing of the sort. The woman is a corrupt propagandist bent on spreading her own far right propaganda by methods she learned during training in the USA. Which of course also matches editorial policies - otherwise she'd be unemployed with the other three million.

Rich Johnston said...

"Far right propaganda"...

Who's talking bollocks now?

Anonymous said...

@ Rich Johnston 12:38.

In answer to your question: You are.

As usual.