Even before Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had finished giving his keynote conference speech to round off the party’s 2017 annual Conference, those who have sworn allegiance to him in the left-leaning part of the blogosphere were attacking what they perceived to be the opposition - but on this occasion, as happens so often, kicking the broadcasters and ending up covered in rather more than confusion.
The over-eager Steve Topple, writing at The Canary - a site which has garnered an appearance on BBC Question Time, to the clear frustration of many established media voices - has decided to go after the Corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, who he has decided is speaking at next week’s Tory Conference in Manchester. She isn’t.
Now, I’m sure some out there on the right will fire back that Zelo Street occasionally mentions Ms Kuenssberg, and this is true, but as regulars will know, my post yesterday on whether she really had the services of a bodyguard contained this caution: “Now, none of what follows excuses or otherwise defends threatening behaviour by any individual or group against anyone else”. Topple missed that. As well as his facts.
This is what he claimed earlier today. Under the headline “We need to talk about Laura Kuenssberg. She’s listed as a speaker at the Tory Party conference”, the post continues “BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg is listed as an ‘invited speaker’ at the Conservative Party conference. And the news raises questions about the impartiality of the journalist and her organisation. Again”. And why should this be?
“The Conservative Party conference is taking place between 1 and 4 October in Manchester. And a fringe event organised by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice thinktank and the Living Wage Foundation lists Kuenssberg as an ‘invited speaker’ … Kuenssberg has been caught in a furore over reports the BBC provided her with security during the Labour Party conference”. What “furore”? Exaggeration, much?
Yes, the Murdoch Sun ran a story based on an anonymous single source, which, as I pointed out, was contradicted by several delegates to Conference. But that’s got Sweet Jack to do with how Ms Kuenssberg does her job, or whether she is biased. And in any case, Topple’s claim is plain flat wrong. As the BBC’s PR people have told him, “@bbclaurak is not speaking at this @csjthinktank event”. End of story.
Jim Waterson of BuzzFeed UK noted “It took me two mins to call the event organiser and find out this is bollocks. She's not speaking at Tory conference. Already going viral regardless”. And Rupert Myers of the Telegraph and GQ magazine added “Canary lying for clicks is one thing, but doing it to further harm @bbclaurak is utterly despicable and shameless”. Some of the response has been yet more forthright.
It we’re going to come down like the proverbial tonne of bricks when the press establishment tells its readers packs of lies - and this blog does not hesitate in so doing - then there can be no double standards for the left-leaning new media sector.
The Canary should already have taken that alleged story down. As well as adopting a suitably grovelling position and saying sorry to Laura Kuenssberg.