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 claimed “Hancock 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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