Peston Chats Sh*t

“I’ve got to talk to you, I’m afraid, about poo” probably wasn’t the line of questioning DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden was expecting when he agreed to appear on Peston last night. Asking about the opening of public toilets in line with increasing freedom to visit parks and other attractions, Dowden did a cracking job of keeping a straight face as one of the nation’s supposed top political broadcasters asked him whether the public can poo in a loo at a zoo. The public now has clarification that it is not government policy to allow excretion in public parks – where would we be without Peston…

mdi-timer 11 June 2020 @ 11:00 11 Jun 2020 @ 11:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Ratings Are In, Peston and Piers Suck Worse Than Politicians

Guido has been banging on about what a shocking performance we have been getting from the prima donnas of infotainment, the presenters and pundits who are going over the top to get gotcha moments for ratings. Well the ratings are in and the public thinks they suck worse than politicians. A lot worse…

According to a poll of 1,652 Britons for Sky News conducted by YouGov on Monday and Tuesday, TV journalists, the likes of Piers Morgan and Robert Peston, are distrusted by 64% of viewers with only 24% saying they trust them – a negative net rating of minus 40. The Dead Tree Press fares little better, having now regularly seen the Lobby hacks asking questions at the daily briefing for themselves every evening, only 17% say they trust newspaper journalists, while 72% say they do not, giving an overall net score of minus 55. That is the kind of net approval last seen by Jeremy Corbyn at his nadir…

How do the main targets of the hacks’ ire rate? Sir Keir Starmer is trusted by 25%, while 34% do not trust him, giving him an overall net rating of minus 9. He also surprisingly manages only to be trusted by half of Labour voters. The most popular politician is the one the hated metropolitan media hate most, Boris, the only politician trusted by the majority of voters (51%).

mdi-timer 24 April 2020 @ 10:15 24 Apr 2020 @ 10:15 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Peston’s Testing Shortage Disinformation

On Tuesday evening, ITV Political Editor Robert Peston made extraordinary and widely shared claims that “there is no shortage of the relevant reagents” – implying that the Government was either lying or simply hadn’t bothered to ask around. His tweet has attracted over 14,000 retweets and 20,000 likes.

His single anonymous Chemical Industries Association source could be right. On the other hand, Guido has pulled together some other people who might just know what they are talking about:

  • Professional Association of Laboratory Medics, Germany: “The association is worried that the materials required for testing — sample kits, materials for extracting samples, and reagents — are becoming scarce”
  • Department of Health, Australia: “Due to global demand exceeding supply, stocks of all laboratory related testing consumables are under considerable strain. At the moment there are particular concerns around supplies of swabs and DNA extraction kits.”
  • Centre for Disease Control, United States: Important reagents are “now are in short supply,”
  • Leo Varadkar, Ireland: “The current cause of delay is a shortage of reagents. We hope to address that but then there may be a shortage of something else. We have to be honest about that – we will hit delays.”
  • Chief Public Health Officer, Province of Manitoba, Canada: “Right now the major roadblock is the reagent and that is worldwide.”
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention, South Korea: Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said … it was true that Roche Diagnostics’ supply of reagents for nucleic acid extraction was not stable.”
  • Health Ministry, Israel: Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said that “Unfortunately what we just received is not exactly what we needed. The test is comprised of many components and the main problem is that we are missing swabs.”
  • National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory, Lithuania: “The reagent kits have been shipped out but have not yet arrived. Supply chains are breaking down. We are following the situation and trying to coordinate.”
  • Metropolis Health Ltd, (registered lab offering tests) India: “Since resources are limited, including protection equipment for sample collectors and reagents, we have decided to prioritise testing to those who are most at need.”
  • Virology Laboratory at Italy’s National Institute for Infectious DiseasesEuropean Commission Coronavirus Advisory Group: “major companies that provide the reagents that labs need to analyze tests are reaching “the maximum of their capacity,” said Capobianchi, noting there’s also a need for more swabs for collecting samples. “I don’t know how long they would require to scale up their capacity,” she said of reagent producers.”

Whilst he later acknowledged that there was a global problem, Peston has still not deleted the original thread. Inevitably his later correction only got a tiny bit of attention, with fraction of the interaction.

Guido understands that the predominant reason Germany has a much higher testing rate is fortunately for them the specific diagnostics facilities needed to test for Covid-19 have a large number of branches in Germany, meaning domestic production just happened to be enormous to begin with. The UK will at least be very well served if any future pandemic requires a large supply of snide punditry…

Last night Peston had to be corrected again by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam on his understanding of which tests can do what, this morning Peston tweets that he “was slightly taken aback at the ferocity of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer’s response”. Painful viewing, see for yourself…

Isn’t it about time big news outlets had their health, rather than political teams leading on Coronavirus coverage?..

mdi-timer 2 April 2020 @ 10:37 2 Apr 2020 @ 10:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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.

mdi-timer 23 October 2019 @ 09:01 23 Oct 2019 @ 09:01 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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…

mdi-timer 14 January 2019 @ 16:39 14 Jan 2019 @ 16:39 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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”.

mdi-timer 4 October 2018 @ 10:23 4 Oct 2018 @ 10:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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