Downing Street Sources Temporarily Silenced

Yesterday, Peter Oborne published a characteristic scream of pain at the over-use of “Downing Street sources” by Lobby hacks. Oborne argued that the quoting of unnamed sources facilitates lying and makes hacks the hands free delivery mechanism for fake news. It is noticeable that, of late, tweeting Lobby hacks repeat anonymous threats from Downing Street sources which habitually do not eventually materialise. He pointed the finger at almost everyone from Laura Kuenssberg to Robert Peston. For hours after his piece was published, the customary tweeted insider nuggets of information were no longer dipped in the Downing Street source…

Nobody seemingly dared report anything “according to a Downing Street source”. ITV’s Paul Brand was the first to break the self-imposed embargo at teatime. His attribution was greeted by a barrage of abuse on Twitter. Twittering Lobby hacks went silent again on what Downing Street was saying…

At 10:00 pm Peston cracked, tweeting

“So here is No.10 confirming that if EU gives the requested three-month Brexit delay, Boris Johnson will ask for an immediate general election. Loads of you have poured buckets of manure on me for telling you what Downing St is thinking and saying. So you are totally at liberty to ignore this statement or disbelieve it. But it would be wholly wrong of me to withhold this from you, on the patronising assumption you cannot analyse and contextualise it.”

His tweet thread included a Whatsapp text from his undisclosed Downing Street source. He was combative (given he has made his career from repeating things he has been told by sources that is hardly surprising).

Perhaps emboldened by Pesto, at 10:05 pm Laura Kuenssberg risked tweeting “No 10 confirms tonight after the vote they’ll try to push for election if EU offers delay.*” She was greeted with tweets saying she was a Downing Street mouthpiece…

Oborne is right to say that hacks whose main journalistic asset appears to be phone numbers for spokesman really need to be less reliant on, and more careful about, re-broadcasting a line that the source would be too embarrassed to say in public. The reality is that it isn’t in the interests of hacks to open up the Lobby system or insist more often that quotes are on the record. Transparency will devalue their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number more valuable. A start to improving and opening up the system would be to put Lobby briefings in the open and televised…

*Boris had in any case already said this publicly earlier in the day in the Commons.

Peston Tweet Taken at Face Value Costs Currency Traders

Peston earlier tweeted that the ERG were falling in behind May’s deal. Just a warning to Guido’s friends in the foreign exchange game. Please take Peston’s insights into the Conservative Party with a bag of salt…

Bloomberg, who should know better, reported Peston’s tweet as if it was a verified ITV News story. The newswire flashed it out across their terminals. Millions changed hands, boom and bust within minutes resulted…

Leadsom Limits Leader’s Longevity

Last night Peston pushed Andrea Leadsom on the PM leading the party into the next election. Leadsom’s answer was basically a diplomatic “no”.

Two-Timing Boris

Boris has managed to give his exclusive “first interview since resigning” to both the BBC’s Laura K and Sky’s Beth Rigby at the same time. Watch his BBC interview here

UPDATE: It turns out Boris gave not two but three interviews in the same room which have all gone out at the same time today – ITV’s Robert Peston has got in on the act too.

Pestmoji on Wednesdays

Robert Peston’s fancy new Wednesday show will kick off next week, with Peston promising some “exciting new elements”. Today we found out that one of these is the creation of his very own emoji. After his Sunday morning flop he’ll need more than an emoji to win over viewers…

Peston on Sunday Cancelled

Peston on Sunday is no more, reports Amol Rajan. Viewers who want to watch his Remoaner whinge fest will now have to tune in at 22:35 on Wednesdays instead. Victory for Marr and Ridge…

Peston’s Remainer Wankfest

Iain Dale reviews the Sunday politics shows…

“Just watched Marr Show. Fantastic work from Emma Barnett. Showed no sign of nerves at all and did a brilliant job of questioning the politicians, in a way they may not have been expecting. It worked. A great contrast to the indulgent, Remainer wankfest on Peston On Sunday today.”

Television of Remainers, by Remainers for Remainers

When the Peston show’s producer tweeted the above graphic out Guido responded that he “should call if you need some phone numbers for politicians who want to leave the EU”. What are the chances of 6 guests all being remainers on a politically neutral show?

If guests were selected at random from the population – which they clearly are not – the probability that they would all be remain campaigners would be

The likelihood of an all-remain guest list being selected by chance is that tiny.

Peston tweeted first thing this morning

“It is just conceivable that a false premise underlies this probability calculation. What do you think?”

Sure, it is conceivable. What is inconceivable is that he would have a show with six Brexiters as his only guests.

He then prays in aid Rob Burley, until recently Marr’s producer

Burley also tweeted that the probability measure was silly and “It’s not June 2016.” Leavers feel we haven’t left the EU and the politico-media establishment are determined to reverse the 2016 vote. Is that a silly idea?

Incidentally the public think, by 3 to 1, the BBC is biased against Brexit and by 2 to 1 that ITV is biased against Brexit. How silly of them…

Peston on ‘Remainer’ Prince Louis

Peston’s hot take on Prince Louis Arthur Charles:

“these are so of-the-moment, London bubble names. Let’s be clear, they are basically Remainer names”

Mogg Tough on Russia

Peston made a curious attempt to suggest Rees-Mogg is backed by Russian bots – even though the whole Russian bots thing has been comprehensively debunked. The Mogg was having none of it…

Pesto Asks Sturgeon If She Backs Maggie Statue

“Robert Peston, BBC”

ITV’s Robert Peston introduces himself as from the BBC. He does get very confused whenever he has to talk about Brexit.

Bolton: I Won’t Quit, UKIP Can’t Pay for Leadership Contest

Embattled UKIP leader Henry Bolton says he won’t quit over the Jo Marney affair. Speaking on Peston, he revealed a leadership contest would not be “financially viable” for the party. Bolton warned UKIP’s NEC against passing a motion of no confidence in him:

“If the NEC goes down the road of months of infighting… then the reality is the party is probably over.”

Crunch meeting later today…

Peston Let Down By “Three Well-Placed Sources”

“Damian Green will keep his job”, so said ITV’s political editor Robert Peston ten days ago, citing “three well-placed sources” who told him “there should be confirmation on Wednesday” that week. How did he get it so wrong? Peston’s always entertaining blog could have been used to see how the idea of letting Green off would go down with the Lobby.[…] Read the rest

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Regulatory Convergence Between UK & EU Denied

Last night Robert Peston set the hares running reporting that “permanent regulatory convergence between the UK and EU” is Theresa May’s “preferred route”. This would essentially be the EEA minus option preferred by Hammond and the Remainers, meaning the UK would have to follow EU rules permanently, denying the opportunities of Brexit that the country voted for.[…] Read the rest

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Pesto’s Brexit Conversion

Self-confessed metropolitan elitist Robert Peston says he has become sympathetic to the will of the British people and the cause of Brexit. Peston’s new book WTF is not exactly an ode to the cause of Leavers, but the ITV pol ed does admit:

“Please don’t throw me out of the family, I now fear that those that did were on the right side of an important argument and the right side of history.”

In an interview with Iain Dale Peston said:

“When I discovered it wasn’t just me but my entire circle were out of touch with millions of people I genuinely felt ashamed… this was the only opportunity millions of people were ever going to have to say to the people who run this place ‘you’re not listening to us’, it was a massive wake up call to everybody… I take my hat off to them, they have thrown all the cards up in the air… it was the right thing to do.”

Everyone comes round in the end…[…] Read the rest

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Peston Labelled “Fake News” By Minister Over Boris Smears

Another ‘interesting’ take from Robert Peston, who writes: “the life-or-death question for May is whether Shapps and Johnson are in cahoots”. He claims Shapps met with Boris’ team a few weeks ago to “discuss matters”. A Tory source says this is “totally fabricated, an obvious smear”.[…] Read the rest

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Profundity of the Punditry: Florence Quadruple Whammy

Robert Peston caused a bit of a stir yesterday afternoon reporting that Theresa May was about to “do a Canada”:

“Her aspiration for after those two or perhaps three years of transition is for our future trading relationship to be what is known – in the ghastly jargon – as CETA plus… What this means is we want a trade deal modelled on Canada’s new one (CETA) with the EU, that has just become operative in interim mode, and not the more intimate integration with the EU of Norway or Switzerland.

[…] Read the rest

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Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Peston 82% Negative

Click to enlarge

Data Guido has been hidden away in a dark room, crunching the numbers to see whether our top broadcast journalists really are impartial on Brexit. It is rarely the case that one individual tweet gives the game away and reveals a top TV  presenter’s biases – they usually won’t be so careless.[…] Read the rest

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Academic Study: Broadcasters Were Biased Towards Remain

An academic study by a team of media studies professors* found that the Tory press is biased against Corbyn and the Labour supporting press is more favourable to Jezza. Taxpayers once again wasting money in academic studies of the bloody obvious.[…] Read the rest

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