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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Jeremy Vine - Give Your Head A Shake

After BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg relayed the false claim that a Labour activist had assaulted Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s SpAd outside Leeds General Infirmary, one might have thought that others at the Corporation would stop and think before rushing to her defence; after all, this is not her first such lapse. But that would be to discount Jeremy Vine, who has leapt in with both feet in his criticism of those calling her out.
Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)

The ceaseless bullying of my colleague [Laura Kuenssberg] on Twitter is just disgusting. She is a fine journalist: impartial, indefatigable” he claimed, somehow missing that on-air resignation stunt (aka “Making the news on the Daily Politics”), taking dictation from Vote Leave main man Matthew Elliott over the campaign’s lawbreaking, and the small matter of the BBC Trust passing adverse comment upon a report on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Vine - knee-jerk defensiveness

On that last point, the Guardian reported that “The broadcaster’s regulator concluded that a Laura Kuenssberg report for the News at Six in November 2015 breached the broadcaster’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines, in a ruling that triggered an angry response from the corporation’s director of news”. But “James Harding, the director of BBC news, rejected the Trust’s ruling and called Kuenssberg ‘an outstanding journalist and political editor with the utmost integrity and professionalism’”.
In other words, the same tone-deaf defensiveness exhibited by Vine today. Not addressing the issue and the failings, just dismissiveness. Ian Fraser, for one, was unimpressed. “Jeremy, you may like to characterise it as ‘bullying’. Yesterday it was mostly legitimate criticism for spreading a fake story to her 1.1m followers. Twitter users with far fewer followers than Laura played a part in getting the falsehoods corrected”.
Chris Smith was even more unimpressed. “Sorry Mr Vine. She tweeted out lies fed to her by Tory spin merchants without any attempt to check. The claims were libellous. All the criticism of her and Peston is entirely justified”. Peter Jukes added “I've met Laura, and I like her personally, but both her and Robert Peston failed some basic editorial controls. Where is management providing support and guidance?” Quite.
One observer asked “Some of the criticism has been OTT, much hasn't . The same for [Robert Peston]. They are experienced journalists, not novices. They were had by the oldest trick in the book. Lying. Verbatim repetition isn't journalism. Where were the ‘2 independent sources’ to corroborate the story?” Where were they? They weren’t.
Another mused “The most important election of our lives. Both [Laura Kuenssberg] and [Robert Peston] have disseminated disinformation.  We need to find out why because something has gone very wrong. Doubling down is not helpful Jeremy - it could happen to you too”. And Iain Dale - no raving leftie he - had harsh words for Peston and Ms K.
They are briefing that a SpAd was punched, when he clearly wasn’t. The video evidence is there for all to see. What a sorry state of affairs we’ve got to. And also, for senior journalists to have fallen for that briefing and put it on social media, without actually checking the facts, is a disgrace”. So, whisper it quietly, are those defending them.

Jeremy Vine is defending the indefensible. But he can’t bring himself to admit it.
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Punchgate - Time To Name Names

The attempt by the Tories to deflect from that four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia forced to sleep on a pile of coats on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary failed: claims that a Labour protester assaulted Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s SpAd turned out to be a pack of lies, a blindingly obvious dead cat. But supposedly impartial broadcast media political editors transmitted the claims as if they were fact.
Here's one Tory disinformation pusher ...

That the story is potentially highly damaging to the Tories is shown by their press pals keeping it off the front pages - in favour of another dead cat, the threat by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to axe the TV licence. This is another pack of lies; the BBC’s funding settlement runs way beyond the end of a five year Parliament.
... and here's another

So how did those broadcasters get conned? Hancock is one reason, having Tweeted “Today saw concerted attempt by Labour activists to intimidate me and my team. This is completely unacceptable at any time, particularly around an election. We will not be daunted. We must defeat this aggressive intimidation”. There wasn’t any “aggressive intimidation”. The other thrust came from a well-known right-wing source.
That was the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who claimedHancock Mobbed By Labour Activists On Leeds Hospital Visit … Shipped In Labour Protestors Harass Hancock Advisor”. There were a handful of protesters and no harassment. No political affiliation or party membership was established.
The question was obvious, and Peter Jukes asked it. “So Matt, are you confirming you’re one of the Two ‘senior Tory sources’ who falsely claimed your SpAd was punched in the face. You were a Culture Secretary. You should understands the importance of truth in a modern democracy. Did you lie to [Laura Kuenssberg] and [Robert Peston]?” And for good measure, he added “This is as big as Saville for the BBC”. That could be most prescient.
Paul Bernal had a question of his own. “What we want to know, [Robert Peston] and [Laura Kuenssberg], is why, despite *all* the evidence of the last few years, you believe what you’re told by ‘senior Tories’? The default position of a serious journalist should be one of scepticism. They haven’t earned trust. The opposite”.
And Will Black highlighted another slice of BBC evasion. “Ask [Question Time], why they interrupted and shifted so quickly away when the man at the back said: ‘Why are we not talking about Cambridge Analytica in all this? Vote Leave and Dominic Cummings conspired with Cambridge Analytica to swing the [referendum] result’”. Quite.
Another Tweeter noted “We should never forget that today at least three Political Editors, not rookie reporters, - Laura Kuenssberg, Robert Peston and Theo Usherwood - promulgated a lie fed to them by Tory sources without any attempt to corroborate it”. And Matt Bishop had a reminder for those broadcast pundits. “Lesson number-1 for all journalists, which you should have learned decades ago: if a story comes to you via a source who has a vested interest in your running it, you must stand it up via an impartial source. Genuine question: if we sports hacks can do it, why the fuck can’t you?
What, then, was to be done? Jessica Simor spelled out the seriousness of the situation. “You did not ‘get it wrong’. You were lied to and used by ‘senior Tories’ as part of their election camapaign. They breached your trust. You should now disclose them. It’s an important story because this is how autocrats behave; they use & abuse people like you for their own gain”. And Ian Fraser was on the same page.
What sort of democracy do we live in when political editors uncritically spread fake news, and when one of them, [Tom Newton Dunn], fails to delete a fake tweet even after the story is is proven to be false?” The Guardian’s take on Newton Dunn’s appalling lapse in running a literal Nazi conspiracy theory last week can be seen HERE.
It was left to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr to show what the likes of Peston, and especially Ms Kuenssberg (whom the BBC should have already sacked for her latest lapse), need to do to claw back public trust. “They're not ‘sources’. They're senior politicians/aides spreading misinformation. That is now the story. Who are they? You have the facts. It is literally your job to report them”. There was more.
[Robert Peston] & [Laura Kuenssberg] were played. But it’s bigger than that. Follow the thread. Look who pumped & primed it: Guido. [BBC Politics] execs who legitimise his targeted [disinformation] by inviting [Fawkes teaboy Tom] Harwood & co endlessly on its shows need to take [a] long hard look at themselves”. And her conclusion?
Lobby rules are a busted flush. UK political journalists need to take urgent collective action. Bin them now. At least for last 2 days of campaign. This is not accidental. It’s targeted disinformation. Nobody needs or wants to hear from ‘senior sources’ ever again”. She also urged those conned by the Tory disinformation machine to name names.

The rank gullibility of our supposedly competent and impartial broadcast media has been shockingly exposed in the past 24 hours. Heads should roll. But don’t hold your breath.
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Pearson And Hartley Dooda CONNED

The old adage that something which looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true has been proved once more in the wake of the scandal over a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia forced to sleep on a pile of coats on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary, which has shown the world the state of the NHS after nine years of less than benevolent Tory rule. It happened. But some would rather it had not.
You wait a while, and then ...
... two gullible fools appear at once

So it was that rather a lot of Twitter accounts sprang into life yesterday evening, pushing two distinct lines. One was to claim “I’m a former paediatric A&E and PICU nurse”, the following wording rubbishing the photo identical in every case, with the other asserting “Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds hospital”. Note that the latter does not say LGI, which would be the case - if it wasn’t a bot.
Soon the fun started, as one Tweeter observed “I’m a former paediatric A&E and PICU nurse and so’s my wife”. Meanwhile, Ian Fraser mused “Uncanny how they all start with the words … It's almost as if it might have been scripted or something”. Daniel Sugarman put the claim over a photo of infamous Iraqi propagandist Chemical Ali.
But while Peter Jukes reckoned “Now we know where all Dominic Cumming’s last minute online ad spending is going. On fake accounts. With defamatory lies against a mother and a sick child. Boosted by the right wing press. Our media in a nutshell”, one gullible pundit was swallowing the claims as if they were true.
Yes, Allison Pearson of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph was that pundit: “So I have detailed explanation from paediatric nurses explaining why photo of child on the floor is ‘100% faked’. I will put in [Telegraph] on Weds. Stage a photo. Cause outrage. Castigate people who doubt it for showing insufficient compassion. Jesus”.
She then went further and claimed “He was not ‘forced to lie on a pile of coats’. The parents staged it”. That was deleted, but not quickly enough. It then got worse, as Sarah “Vain” Vine and Brexit Party MEP (and unrepentant terrorist sympathiser) Claire Fox weighed in. Ms Fox had not, when last checked, deleted her effort.
Meanwhile, Marc Owen Jones has put together a thread on the whole sorry fake medical claims business, noting “This one is about the fake news claiming that a sick boy on the floor of a hospital in leeds was staged by his mother. We know the story is real, Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds even apologised”. See the whole thread HERE.
And that might have been that, except for the equally gullible presence of TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda, who claimed that there were “question marks being raised about this now”. Jessica Simor was aghast. “JHB accuses mother of staging her child lying on the floor of a hospital with pneumonia and a drip on the basis of ‘unconfirmed reports by nurses’. What the hell are ‘unconfirmed reports’? This is not journalism it’s ‘peddling’”.
Even after being prodded, Ms Hartley Dooda persisted. “We discussed the story. The hospital confirmed that there was a long wait and no bed. They did not confirm other aspects of the story. Paediatric nurses have questioned the photo as staged as it doesn’t tally with how a suspected pneumonia case would be treated. Worth discussion”. Those “nurses” were fakes, and it isn’t worth discussion. Two gullible fools have been conned.
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Monday, 9 December 2019

The Shame Of Laura Kuenssberg

The old adage that the job of a  journalist, on hearing one person claim it is raining and another claiming it is not, is not to merely report the claims but look out of the window and discover what is really happening, was never more true this afternoon as a protest outside Leeds General Infirmary was misreported to the point of partisan negligence.
Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been dispatched to LGI after it was revealed that a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia had been sleeping on a pile of coats on the floor due to a shortage of beds. Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was confronted about it and declined to look at the image, instead putting the reporter’s phone in his pocket. Hancock was supposed to recover the situation.
Instead, as he left there was a small but vocal protest waiting. But nothing untoward happened. Unless you followed BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg: “So Matt Hancock was despatched to Leeds General (sorry not just Leeds Hospital), to try to sort out mess, hearing Labour activists scrambled to go + protest, and it turned nasty when they arrived - one of them punched Hancock's adviser”. And there was more.
Ms K once more. “Not entirely clear what happened, but Tories suggesting Labour campaigners offered to pay cabs for activists to go and heckle Hancock - fair to say today not panning out as anyone had expected in what has been a relatively flat campaign”.
Just 18 minutes later, ITV political editor Robert Peston joined in. “It was [Matt Hancock]’s adviser [Jamie Njoku-Goodwin] who was whacked in the face by a protestor as he tried to help Hancock into his car outside Leeds General Hospital. Police on scene. All sounds very unpleasant”. Meanwhile, Paul Mason asked Ms Kuenssberg a straightforward question. “What is the source for this assertion? Pictures, statements? Quotes?
Well, quite. She had not, it seems, checked first. Nor had Peston. And Paul Chatterton had bad news for them both, and Paul Brand of ITV: “This did not happen. I was standing right there. I think you need to confirm your evidence before spreading inaccuracies”. The Tory Fibs Twitter feed posted video and asked simply “This is the scene. Judge for yourself”.
Another Tweeter responded to Brand “Except BBC's [Nick Eardley] who was actually there just said on [BBC PM] at 5pm, that no assault occurred”. Stefan Stern was on the same page. “On [BBC PM] their reporter [Nick Eardley] says there was no punch in Leeds and no scuffle but perhaps an accidental collision. So it looks like reports of a punch and an arrest may have been somewhat over-spun, for some reason”. Indeed.
By now Ms Kuenssberg was having second thoughts. “Have video from Hancock leaving Leeds General just come through so you can see for yourself - doesn’t look like punch thrown, rather, one of Tory team walks into protestor’s arm, pretty grim encounter”. There was nothing grim. Paul Waugh of the HuffPo added simply “The 'punch' was not a punch”.
Peston just said sorry. “It is completely clear from video footage that [Matt Hancock]’s adviser was not whacked by a protestor, as I was told by senior Tories, but that he inadvertently walked into a protestor's hand. I apologise for getting this wrong”. The source was a Senior Tory one. No doubt trying to deflect from Bozo’s earlier gross insensitivity.
It was left to Peter Jukes of Byline Media to point out how the claim spread: “Looks like they're all in the same WhatsApp group. This isn't independent journalism”. But, as far as can be ascertained, Laura Kuenssberg was the one that started it. From there, the herd instinct kicked in and the others followed. As she was wrong, so were they.

This is not the first time that Ms Kuenssberg has fouled up badly in a way that suggests partiality towards the Tories. Perhaps this time it should be the last.
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