The director-general of the BBC has defended Laura Kuenssberg against Twitter trolls, saying she is an “extraordinary journalist”.
Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, faced calls for her sacking after she shared the identity of a father and Labor activist who confronted Boris Johnson over NHS staff shortages.
Omar Salem confronted the Prime Minister during his visit to a children’s ward at Whipps Cross University Hospital where his seven-year-old daughter is being treated.
In a widely-circulated video Mr Salem says “The NHS is being destroyed… and now you’ve come here for a press opportunity. ”
“There are not enough people on this ward, there are not enough doctors, there’s not enough nurses, it’s not well organized enough , ”He added.
Mr Salem identified himself as Mr Johnson’s confronter in a tweet Kuenssberg then shared with her followers. The journalist pointed out that Mr Salem labeled himself as a Labor activist on his profile.
Criticism aimed at her online was vitriolic and #sacklaurakuenssberg trended on Twitter. Lord Hall of Birkenhead said Kuenssberg had his full support. “I don’t know how she does it. She is an extraordinary journalist, ”he said.
Following the Twitter storm, Mr Salem also came to the journalist’s defense saying she was doing her job “without fear of favor”.
Kuenssberg’s work “is a vital part of democracy,” Mr Salem said, adding: “I don’t think ‘Labor activist cares about NHS’ is a huge scoop though”.
The BBC said any suggestion Kuenssberg had maliciously shared Mr Salem’s tweet was “absurd”.
Ina statement the BBC said: “Laura is a journalist who uses social media as part of her job.
“Like many others, Laura quote-tweeted a thread by Omar Salem, who had written himself about his encounter with the PM on social media and describes himself as a Labor activist. ”
Kuenssberg has yet to comment on the controversy.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, Lord Hall also criticized No 10 for failing to put up Boris Johnson for an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
Lord Hall said those running the country must face “proper scrutiny” on shows such as Today. “Places where those in power can be quizzed at length, not just on the hop somewhere in a grabbed moment, are absolutely key. I think we should do everything we can to get politicians to come onto these programs, ”he said.