The Establishment Rallies Around Kuenssberg 242

The petition to sack Tory propagandist Laura Kuenssberg from her role as BBC Political Editor has been scrapped by 38 Degrees after it gained over 35,000 signatures. The reason given is sexist comments and tweets.

Having both signed and endorsed the petition myself, I was taken aback by this. I had personally read through every single one of the comments on the 38 Degrees site, when 26,000 people had signed the petition. I was intending to publish a selection of comments on this blog, as many of them were really quite elegant, and some moving in expressing the loss some people felt in their disillusion with the BBC.

Of the many scores, possibly hundreds (there is no counter) of comments I read through, only one was sexist. That one was very unpleasant, but totally unrepresentative. I can see no reason why they could not just delete any such stupid comments. Everywhere on the internet gets them, including this blog.

It seems to me astonishing that a tiny and unrepresentative number of people can get a petition scrapped which had been signed by many thousands of genuine people. I therefore today phoned 38 Degrees to uncover both the policy and the sequence of events.

What happened first was an article in the Guardian alleging the petition was linked to sexist abuse. Needless to say, the Guardian referred to alleged sexist abuse, by Jeremy Corbyn supporters, of Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips (in the case of Stella Creasy this was proven to be almost complete fabrication. I have not looked into the Phillips case). I have both phoned and emailed the Guardian to ask them on what evidence their story of sexist abuse of Kuenssberg was based, but they have not responded.

I asked the 38 Degrees spokesman whether they had personally seen the evidence of this sexist abuse. Their spokesman Adam said that they had seen it. I asked whether they would send me the evidence so I could check it. He said they would consider this. They have not done so. I asked him how many sexist comments there were? 2, 3, 10, 100? He said they had not looked through everything and would not give even a ballpark figure. I asked what impact their junking of the petition would have on the tens of thousands of non sexist people who had signed it, and why they felt able to slander those people as sexist. He replied this was not intended and they were still thinking about it. I asked why people opposed to a petition could not get anything taken down by adding a few nasty comments pretending to support. He said this had occurred to them as a problem too.

38 Degrees said that the petition originator had agreed to it being taken down, but I clarified they had contacted him to ask for his agreement. Whether he was shown the “evidence” or browbeaten I do not know.

So there we are. The petition has been binned and the people who supported it have all been libelled in the media as sexists. It is not apparently concern about a rampantly biased political editor, it is obvious sexism. Yet the only people who claim to have the actual evidence of this sexism – 38 Degrees and the Guardian – have not produced the evidence and refuse to produce the evidence when I ask.

Laura Kuenssberg is I think the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC, particularly in her very obvious vindictive hatred of Jeremy Corbyn and of Scottish Independence. She does not in the least pretend impartiality. But she is by no means alone. Of course by targeting her we are only drawing attention to a particularly egregious symptom of the terrible disease of a rampantly right wing corporate and state media. Nobody believes that removing her would solve the problem. Nobody seriously believes the BBC actually would remove her even if the petition reached a million. It is purely a campaigning tool to highlight the injustice of media control, access and bias.

The fact we are denied even this tool of protest is deeply troubling. The continued process of stigmatisation of decent dissidents as “anti-Semitic” or “misogynist” is characteristic of a society in which deviating from the political line is rewarded with social stigma and exclusion. This poisonous climate should be seen as a reaction to the challenge the elite is currently facing to its neo-liberal certainties.

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242 thoughts on “The Establishment Rallies Around Kuenssberg

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  • Roseanna Walker

    I am not amazed by this at all, the older I get the more I realise where power lies & it’s not with ‘the people’. I am one of the 35,000 people who signed that petition & object strongly to my legitimate objection being ‘binned’, with no warning. I thank you for highlighting this, the only information I have had.
    In all my years in this country, I’ve not heard such blatant bias expressed by a BBC reporter. From now on I will pay no attention to any opinion expressed by Ms Kuenssberg, that’s my personal protest. People are loosing respect for the BBC,is it any wonder?

    • Spaull

      It would be bad enough if she were just a reporter, but she isn’t. She is the political editor.

  • Paul

    So, protests outside Broadcasting House, mass non-payment of TV license, or both?

  • ian campbell

    note this is only the latest daily burial of principled opponents of this government

      • Chris Wade-Evans

        I know. But why did 38 degrees agree to shut down the petition instead of the comments?

  • Pogliaghi

    Why doesn’t 38 Degrees just censor individual offensive comments rather than censor entire petitions? If the petition itself isn’t “sexist” then what can possibly be rationale for censoring the petition because a few individuals’ behaviour. What purpose do they even serve if not to run petitions well? Instead they behave like self serving gits that prefer gratuitous publicity to responsibility. Petitions websites have always been a pretty pathetic, spammy part of the Internet underbelly, dearly in need of being superceded by something better anyway. It’s not surprising one would be willing to kowtow to higher level media influencers including the Guardian, which do, of course cultivate Blairite and Tory connections.

  • Ed Fredenburgh

    We have to follow the thread. Wouldn’t Kuenssberg answer directly to the BBC’s head of news and current affairs? That’s James Harding, heavily and blatantly committed to Zionism, and formally chosen by Murdoch to edit The Times. Harding was appointed by Tony Hall, BBC Director General, as soon as he took up the post.
    What was Jane Merrick’s story? Former political editor of Independent on Sunday, apparently started the hare of “a core of hard left misogyny that comes out against women when Corbyn is under pressure”. Antisemitism, misogyny…. any bets on the next concoction?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      It’s got to be the NHS or cruelty to animals. Oh, shit. I’ve probably given someone an Idea. Corbyn poisons pigeons…

  • Paul

    So I comment on the Israelie Govt’s policy in Gaza and I’m anti-Semitic I comment on a clearly biased journalist and I’m sexist although I’ve never referred to her gender. The control of the media is now akin to what was the preserve of the Eastern European press that the BBC would have deplored. I don’t mind a right wing BBC as long as every report has another journalist challenging the Govt’s msg being delivered by @laura

  • D Richards

    And this is how we become oppressed and they fight the real right to Freedom of Speech and Democracy and the progressive movement. Hello! We are living in dangerous times and heading towards Fascism disguised as moderate conservatism. The people are fooled, even those who believe petitioning will be heard by the establishment and bring about change. The only thing it achieves, is spreading the word and information. You cannot change this system from within. In my humble opinion.

  • acloseobserver

    Could this be a possible explanation? Kuenssberg receives a high number of personal (attacking) tweets over the weekend/early this week; reports (some of) them and someone (police? coterie of journos? gov?) decide that they can put pressure on 38 degrees and specifically Joe Haydon who posted the petition originally. The argument could have been that the petition was stimulating “incitement to hate” or something along those lines….(all very paradoxical as Kuenssberg in turn has in many ways been inviting and inciting a hatred of Corbyn and his Labour leadership). So instead of defending its existence they decided to capitulate leaving those who signed the petition in search of fairness and justice looking like fools.

  • Jo

    It’s becoming so obvious who is for and who is against the common good, the media rhetoric is pathetic just like being at school in the playground, when are these people going to grow up, be accountable and start being honest…………..unbelieveable!! The OUT campaign using the phrase ‘taking back control’ so much it is beginning to make me want to throw something at the TV, the discourse of brainwashing is so obvious and pathetic and the In aren’t much better, using lies and tactics to gain votes………………and the BBC is right in the middle of it all stirring it up!! Little children bullying the underdog, except the underdog in the case is simply telling his truth, Go Jeremy!!

  • Sara Tipton

    Absolutely one hundred per cent right! I am actually beginning to feel extremely concerned at the consistent, systematic and successful dog whistle attempts to gag legitimate debate/dissent and the ridiculously right wing bias of our MSM . We should as a “supposed democratic” nation be appalled by this!

  • Mick douglas

    This government and the bbc are hood winking us all,she should have gone weeks ago along with all involved it’s a disgrace

  • Tom Minogue

    I think the 38 Degree organisation come out of this badly.

    Surely they have a duty to police their site and delete any improper comments?

    But as you rightly point out the online petition process can be scuppered by anyone able to post several improper comments of a sexist, racist, homophobic nature.

    Someone needs to re-run this petition with an organisation that is capable of stewarding their site.

  • Mick douglas

    Well another rant we should be able to say that she is the scum of the earth

  • Viv D
    I have met David Banns and many of the team who will have agonised over this. They are being got at all the time – this time they made the wrong decision in my opinion. But totally honest and fair and caring is what they are. Gosh if it is this easy fo people to lose faith in a small team of people who normally do a great job then hats off to Corbyn! You are being used people.

    • Phil the ex frog

      So he claims the petition was cleaned of offending comments but the petition was removed because of offending comments. And, just in case you notice the flaw in that argument, it’s twitter’s fault. Anything that has an offensive related tweet must be removed from the internet. He thinks. Maybe. He’s not sure, but it happened this time. Ho hum. He even admits he consulted Keunsberg before the petition was taken down.

      Hilarious nonsense.

  • Andrew Nichols

    Antisemitic, mysoginsm. = “Enemy of the people”. “Counter revolutionary”, “unAmerican” “capitalist lackey” same fascism different labels…

  • Jan Cook

    38 degrees bowing to the ‘establishment’ – They have lost their way. I will no longer support an organisation that is as bad as those it seeks to protest. Kuenssberg has lost all credibility as a discerning journalist. She reports her opinion regardless of the facts

  • Maureen Marsh

    An increasingly worrying state of affairs carrying with it the question of how to challenge this situation.

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