‘A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister…’: Bid to label Leeds hospital photo ‘fake news’ backfires spectacularly
A photo of the four-year-old boy, taken earlier this month, was published by the Yorkshire Evening Post on December 8 along with an apology from the chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Despite the prime minister’s own efforts to downplay it, the photo was soon shared widely online by people criticising cutbacks to the UK’s health services.
Was yesterday the day that the election started? @BorisJohnson refused to look at a photograph of a child with suspected pneumonia forced to wait on a hospital floor, then sent Health Sec Matt Hancock to the hospital only to be met by protest. MORE: https://t.co/1jJQGrjNN2pic.twitter.com/5vO6hXkzHy— RT UK (@RTUKnews) December 10, 2019
However, it wasn’t long before the tale took another turn, as a blatant online push began to try to discredit the image by claiming the incident was staged and was simply ‘fake news.’
A comment, opening with “Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital – the boy shown on the floor by the media was in fact put there by his mother,” was posted on numerous accounts on Twitter and Facebook as though a surprising number of people were friends with the staff member and their unverified insider info ‘debunked’ the image.
The claim was circulated by some prominent social media accounts, including Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson who shared screenshots of the message with the note, “I presume this is genuine.” The proliferation of exactly-worded posts drew accusations from some social media users that the Tory party or their most ardent supporters was involved.
It’s very interesting indeed. Not only do they all have the same friend. They all have the same person writing their tweets. Tories in full sock-puppet account mode. Shame on you @CCHQPress. pic.twitter.com/fm6aKNAvnN— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) December 9, 2019
That the comment was shared verbatim by so many accounts in apparent sincerity generated huge mirth online and a massive backlash against the apparent effort to undercut the shocking photo. Some simply attached the quote to their favorite meme images, while others rephrased the latter part of the original message to emphasize their incredulity.
Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital - the boy shown on the floor by the media was in fact put there by his mother who then took photos on her mobile phone and uploaded it to media outlets before he climbed back onto his trolley." pic.twitter.com/tfmLndJRLH— BuxtonGooner (@buxtongooner) December 10, 2019
"Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital - the boy shown on the floor by the media was in fact put there by his mother who then took photos on her mobile phone and uploaded it to media outlets before he climbed back onto his trolley." pic.twitter.com/EEGNgzWGIE— 🎶Oh, Holy Mooms🎶 (@Danny_McMoomins) December 10, 2019
Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital. She says you shouldn't believe anything you read from people claiming to have good friends who are senior nursing sisters at Leeds Hospital.#fakenews— Andrew Hughes 🖐🦘👞👞 (@Hughesey45) December 10, 2019
Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital - the boy shown on the floor by the media was in fact a snow-boy made from snow gathered outside, and melted away shortly after the photo was taken.— 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝖘𝖆𝖇𝖔𝖙𝖊𝖚𝖗 #𝔣𝔟𝔭𝔢 🇪🇺 (@DoomlordVek) December 10, 2019
The political fallout from the plight of the sick boy has been wider than just a partisan troll-bashing. PM Boris Johnson was confronted by an ITV reporter with images of the child and instead of answering questions about the situation, Johnson took the journalist’s phone and pocketed it.
Later, Health Secretary Nick Hancock was dispatched to the hospital at the center of the furore and a fresh controversy erupted when MSM reporters, including BBC political journalist Laura Kuenssberg, reported unfounded claims that one of Hancock’s advisers was punched by a Labour protester. Footage of the incident revealed that the adviser had accidentally walked into the man’s extended hand while passing.Also on rt.com BBC reporter roasted for focusing on fake news of Labour activist ‘punching’ official at Leeds hospital protest
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