Diane Abbott 'sick' of 'gotcha journalism' after ITV News slip up on police figures led to 'death threats'

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has said she is “sick” of so-called “gotcha journalism” after once again tripping up over policing figures during an interview with ITV News.

Abbott was seen to consult an aide off camera while stumbling over her response to a question about the cost of Labour’s policy to recruit an extra 10,000 police officers. See video below.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said she had received further “abuse” and “death threats” as a result of the interview.

During the election campaign, Abbott made national headlines after stumbling over police funding figures in a one-on-one with LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

Following a difficult interview on Sky News, she went on to pull out of two planned media appearances “due to illness”, later revealed to be diabetes.

In a tweet following the ITV News broadcast on Thursday, Abbot said: Sick of “gotcha” journalism? I certainly am. Maybe journalists should try focusing on the real issues that affect peoples’ lives @itvnews.”

She also attached a personal video statement in the message, saying: “Today the government released figures which reveal that we are seeing the biggest annual rise in crime for a decade, we also know that police numbers are at a 30-year low.

“This is news. But ITV chose to carefully edit a piece of video showing me stumbling over some figures and said that that was news. So for them, yes Labour will recruit 10,000 extra police officers and we will pay for it by reversing the Tory cuts in capital gains tax.

“But you know, I hope they get some more viewers because all it has got me is hundreds of pieces of abuse including the usual death threats.”

In a comment piece for The Guardian Abbott said: “They [ITV] put up a carefully edited video on Twitter. But they didn’t include anything I had said about the crime statistics. Their considered news judgment was that the “story” was not the rise in rape and violent crime, but making a politician look stupid.

“Far be it from me to complain about journalists editing footage to make politicians look stupid. It is free entertainment in an age of austerity. But yesterday I spoke to a succession of senior journalists at the news outlet; after the footage was tweeted but before it was broadcast. I found that instructive.

“They insisted that my stumble was the real story. They were proud of their fact-free, research-free and investigation-free ‘story’. They were unmoved by the racist abuse online (including the usual death threats) that their tweet had already triggered.

“They were entirely unable to explain why Philip Hammond or Boris Johnson getting their figures wrong was not treated in the same way as Diane Abbott doing the same thing. And they were very clear that they saw no reason to carry what I had actually said about the crime statistics.”

In response, an ITV News spokesperson said: “We take issue with a number of points that Diane Abbott makes in her Guardian comment piece. This was not a ‘gotcha’ moment.

“ITV News sent a producer to record Labour reaction from the Shadow Home Secretary on the issue of the day – crime figures and policing numbers – as is routine. The unedited interview then ran on air and online.

“The News at Ten programme running order made it clear that the main story focus was crime, and included the Labour Party’s position on the issue.

“The Shadow Home Secretary’s interview response on numbers was then shown immediately afterwards. This was judged to be newsworthy because of previous interviews she had given during the 2017 election campaign.

“Our political correspondent in the News at Ten studio also made it clear on air that any racist and misogynistic abuse Diane Abbott receives is completely unacceptable.”

Picture: ITV News

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