The revelation that Boris Johnsons top adviser traveled over 250 miles to his parents as he recovered from Covid-19 has unleashed outrage in the UK. The BBC is also under fire after its political editor jumped to defend the move.
News of Dominic Cummings’ egregious lockdown breach emerged on Friday night in reports by the Mirror and Guardian news outlets. In March, the prime minister’s closest adviser allegedly traveled from his London home to his parents’ farm in Durham, in northern England, when a strict lockdown was already in place and after he displayed symptoms of coronavirus.
In a bewildering move, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg leaped to the defense of the government adviser on Twitter. She replied directly to a post by Daily Mirror political editor, Pippa Crerar, to say that a “source” had informed her that Cummings’ trip was “within guidelines,” as he had made the 400km journey to stay with his parents so they “could help with childcare while he and his wife were ill.”
Source says his trip was within guidelines as Cummings went to stay with his parents so they could help with childcare while he and his wife were ill - they insist no breach of lockdown— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 22, 2020
The BBC chief political reporter’s decision to cite unnamed sources in a bid to spin a story that made the government look bad raised the hackles of many, with countless people asking why Kuenssberg was acting as a spokesperson for the government. It was repeatedly noted that there is no childcare provision in the lockdown measures, something of which Kuenssberg surely should have been aware.
is rebuttal for the PM's advisor your job?— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) May 22, 2020
“Does the BBC have no consideration for millions of grandparents who, respecting the rules, have made the sacrifice of not seeing their grandkids over the past two months? Like his boss, Cummings acts with impunity while the press fail to hold him to account. #NameTheSource,” musician Billy Bragg wrote.
Piers Morgan’s succinct reply simply dismissed Kuenssberg’s reporting as “absolute nonsense.”
The BBCs Laura Kuenssberg is now commenting on other journalists posts in an attempt to defend Cummings.In what world is that ok?!More than 300 health and care workers have died for heavens sake. https://t.co/XGbFrsI25n— NHS Million = (@NHSMillion) May 22, 2020
Just the BBC Political Editor replying with Tory spin to another journalists story about Cummings breaking the lockdown advice. Completely, totally normal. https://t.co/ZQb4mwSA6P— Liam Young (@liamyoung) May 22, 2020
At the time of writing, the political editor’s message had racked up a staggering 13,000 replies, leaving it with an appalling ratio of around 13 replies to every one like. ‘Laura Kuenssberg’ trended in the UK due to the deluge of negative reaction. Other related trending topics were ‘Durham,’ ‘#SackDominic,’ ‘#resign,’ and ‘#DominicGoings.’
Kuenssberg even lost some defenders with the shoddy reporting as many took issue with her responding to another political editor to refute their story. “I defend Laura K a LOT but replying to someone’s thread on a scoop like this trying to spin a line from a ‘source’ is a very bad look,” the Mirror’s Tom Davidson said.
It feels weird that LK would respond to another political editor to refute their story, as if Pippa has not done her due diligence or also has contacts to stand up the story? Shes not the comms for Cummings, it feels odd? https://t.co/0CeCFn5Sa4— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) May 22, 2020
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