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BBC reporter roasted for focusing on fake news of Labour activist ‘punching’ official at Leeds hospital protest

BBC reporter roasted for focusing on fake news of Labour activist ‘punching’ official at Leeds hospital protest
A BBC reporter is feeling the heat on Twitter for deflecting from protests at a Leeds hospital by claiming, without evidence, that a Labour activist punched Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s adviser – which was fake news.

When protesters confronted Hancock over a disturbing picture of a four-year-old boy sleeping on a floor at Leeds General Hospital, BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg seemed to think that the public would be best served by her spreading evidence-free claims that a Tory aide had been punched by a person she described as a “Labour activist.”

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Kuenssberg fired off the incendiary (and now-deleted) tweet claiming the protest “turned nasty” based on things she was “hearing” – though she didn’t clarify who exactly she was hearing it from.

When video of the incident emerged online, it showed no evidence of any punches thrown, or much of a scuffle at all. The BBC journalist admitted as much when she posted a subsequent tweet saying it “doesn’t look like” the official was punched – rather, that one of the Tory team walked into a protester’s arm as his back was turned and he was gesticulating. 

Though, despite the lack of anything particularly dramatic happening, Kuenssberg still called the non-incident a “pretty grim encounter.”

Daily Mail journalist Claire Ellicott also got in on the act, hyping the incident even further by tweeting about unspecified "reports" that an activist had "been arrested" for punching the staffer. Ellicott deleted her tweet after the footage appeared online.

Fellow tweeters wasted no time in calling out the reporters for attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill, and scolded her for spreading the rumor without having any of the facts straight. 

The activist accused of throwing the punch even tweeted to say the incident occurred on his way home and that in reality it was “all over” after a few comments, no punching involved.

“This did not happen. I was standing right there. I think you need to confirm your evidence before spreading inaccuracies,” he wrote.

Others also chimed in to berate Kuenssberg for sensationalizing the situation.

“Since when has ‘hearing’ something merited a tweet from a BBC (that we pay for) 'journalist'?” one person wrote.

“It’s really beneath the BBC to broadcast to a million plus followers what anyone ‘suggests’. Can you not just wait, I don’t know 15 minutes, to report actual facts?” another added.

Kuenssberg later said she was “happy to apologize” for the confusion, claiming she had been told by two mysterious “sources” that Hancock’s adviser had been punched. That didn’t go down very well either, though, with many refusing to believe it was a satisfactory excuse for spreading rumors with proof to back them up.

Plenty of angry commenters also demanded that she name and shame the sources, who one person described as having “seriously misrepresented an incident of a man walking gently into a finger.”

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