Laura Kuenssberg ((c) PA/Guardian)
While that media class heaped praise on Ms K., lauding her talents, showering around the congratulations at the news that the BBC will retain her services as interviewer and analyst, citing her conviviality and regaling anyone listening with stories of glass ceilings shattered, the view outside the bubble - and the reality of her record - was less positive.
From the moment Ms Kuenssberg Tweeted “After nearly 7 years, in April I'm moving on from [the] best daily reporting job + the most wonderful team in the business. It's been an honour and an amazing ride - more to come in 2022! With love + thanks to all at [BBC Politics]”, the fawning began. Including from Director General Tim Davie.
Davie personally gushed “Laura has been an outstanding political editor throughout the most turbulent political times in living memory. Her incisive commentary, tough questioning and astute insight have guided our audiences through the last seven years … She’s a superb interviewer and engaging presenter, and I’m thrilled that we are keeping her on our screens and airwaves. I’m looking forward to the next chapter”.
Brutus Moriartus, this man is a bit of a crawler. Davie encapsulates the back-slapping, aren’t-we-all-wonderful mentality of those who believe that their perception is the equivalent of reality. But that reality, I would submit, is not what they think it is.
Were it so, we would not have seen an exasperated Peter Oborne appearing on Channel 4 News asserting that Ms Kuenssberg (and, indeed, Robert Peston of ITV) does not interrogate her sources, but merely, to quote his turn of phrase, takes what those sources tell her and “just shovels it on”. That has not stopped the political crawlers.
Which characterisation, for some reason, brings to mind Labour’s Wes Streeting, who was also in gushing tribute mode: “The highest compliment I can pay Laura is that after 7 years in the BBC’s top political job, with countless hours on screen and many conversations off-screen, I have no idea what her personal political views are or how she votes in a general election. A true professional”. So let me put him and Davie straight.
There was the infamous “Resignation! Making the news on the Daily Politics” episode, which benefited the Tories significantly. After Vote Leave were caught breaking electoral law, she claimed they had merely “broken the rules”, which sounds less serious. The BBC Trust ruled that her presentation of an interview with then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “broke accuracy and impartiality rules”. And don’t forget the 2016 local elections.
Running through all of those episodes is a common theme: those occasional slip-ups benefit the current Government. On top of those is the “postal vote” moment from the 2019 General Election, which also benefited - at least potentially - the Tories. As well as the Leeds General Infirmary “Labour activist punched Hancock’s advisor” moment.
The media bubble may not have been paying attention. But rather a lot of viewers have.
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