It can be difficult sometimes to defend the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She did not help her cause with the live on-air resignation of a shadow junior minister a while ago, the impression was given that she was less than totally impartial in a recent round of local elections, and effectively legitimising the Sun’s totally untrue “QUEEN BACKS BREXIT” claim was not a good look. But she rarely misses the story.
Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)
Some on various parts of the political spectrum may not agree with the way she presents that story, but that isn’t the point: the Beeb’s person on the spot needs to pick up on the story, and pick up on it she usually does. Until yesterday.
Dominic Cummings - not a reliable witness
When former Vote Leave main man Dominic Cummings spewed out his attempt to muddy the waters around forthcoming revelations about his campaign, and other Leave groups, Ms Kuenssberg immediately picked up on it - but provided no introduction, no context, no link to the story, no reference to Carole Cadwalladr and her colleagues, and ended with encouragement to read Cummings’ rant in full. Plus there was one shocking omission.
Here’s her reaction to Cummings’ fog of misinformation: “Something surreal happening today - just as Tusk and Juncker are talking about progress on Brexit, Dominic Cummings, former Vote Leave campaign chief, blasts back at claims about links [between] Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit campaign … Cummings provides detailed responses to claims he says are to be made by whistleblowers about Vote Leave in next few days, he says allegations are 'factually wrong, hopelessly confused, or nonsensical’”.
There was more. “Cummings also publishing emails that seem to suggest that Chris Wylie pitched to Vote Leave to provide the kind of thing that Cambridge Analytica provide - he says, 'Wylie, I rediscovered yesterday, tried to flog me the same crap he's attacking CA for doing’”. This was Cummings’ opinion. It did not get presented that way.
And more. “The blog also reveals that Theresa May's political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, who was part of Vote Leave, was in a relationship with one of the whistleblowers, who was a volunteer”. Almost as an afterthought. And the most disturbing aspect of that revelation was missed - the Downing Street-backed outing.
Then she concludes “There will undoubtedly be pushback from the other side, but if you've been following the CA saga it's well worth a read - story online soon”. But what Dominic Cummings had published WAS the pushback. And why was the work of Ms Cadwalladr and her colleagues at the Guardian and Observer NOT “well worth a read”, especially when put alongside a single-sourced screed from an unreliable witness?
But the most glaring omission is that Cummings, aided and abetted by 10 Downing Street, engineered the outing of Shahmir Sanni in order to frighten him from blowing the whistle - and the BBC’s political editor missed it completely!
It looks to all the world as if the infamous “Lobby Mentality” has struck again: the lobby hacks all believe in their version of reality, therefore that is what reality looks like.
This could be the moment Theresa May finally runs out of luck, and runs out of road. One might expect the Beeb to pick up on that. I’ll just leave that one there.