A public inquiry will not be kind to the media over its coronavirus coverage

PUBLISHED: 15:32 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:32 11 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

Readers have mixed views on the media coverage of Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus.

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The way much the UK media – not including TNE – has rolled over for Boris and his government has astounded and depressed me. The lack of critical distance, even from the hitherto sensible, is dumbfounding.

There seems a desire to recreate, depending on the newspaper, website or broadcaster, the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, or the Blitz or an imagined Brexit. And if this means absolving the government of responsibility, then so be it.

The brave journalists I have seen questioning Boris, pointing out the UK’s still appalling death rates and asking difficult questions are in a minority. But they are doing their jobs and the inquest (as well as the history books) into this disaster will be kinder on them than their peers.

Will Goble


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Rayleigh

In his recent Sun interview, referred to by a gushing BBC as “candid”, Johnson declared he was now driven to prevent others suffering as a result of his own experience. It’s a bloody shame he wasn’t so ‘driven’ in February…

Amanda Baker

Edinburgh

Thank you so much Liz Gerard for “Falling into the clap trap” (TNE #191) and for daring to express a different view and bringing balance and rationality to the situation.

I am filled with gratitude and respect for the professionalism and courage of workers in the NHS , care sector and all essential retail and public services. However, sadly, the collective clap takes me outside my comfort zone and whilst it indisputably raises spirits, it doesn’t address systematic underfunding, lack of PPE or decent pay and conditions for staff.

Newspapers like the Sun risk using the weekly clap to define us by our actions as those who care and those who don’t, yet there are so many other ways to support the NHS and we should not feel pressured into restricting ourselves only to a visible weekly performance.

Kath Sainsbury

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Teesside

Piers Morgan can be really irritating sometimes and he is far from 100% right 100% of the time, but during this period I have become one of his biggest fans. Anthony Clavane (“Passing the Piers review”, TNE #192) was spot-on.

Morgan cuts through the crap and remains focused on the question in

hand. He seems more concerned about his fellow British citizens than any politician so far, and for that, I am very grateful.

Go, Piers, give them hell, continue to make them squirm.

Emma Qiao

I am one of those members of the public who are fed up with the media’s attitude to the government’s role in this pandemic and I read Liz Gerard’s piece with interest and some disquiet.

There are many, many things about which we would all like detailed and straightforward answers but now is not the time. The size and complexity of the problems the government faces must be both horrendous and unprecedented in peacetime. The last thing they need is for its attention to be diverted into attempting to deal with prejudiced and often ill-informed criticism.

The nature of the media coverage may eventually divert them from dealing with the practical issues involved and into obsession with political considerations, with the result that the lockdown is removed too rapidly, bringing about a resulting second spike of cases and deaths.

When this is all over we should have a full-scale enquiry by a body dominated by experts, with no holds barred and nothing kept secret. Until then let’s cool all this down and deal with the practicalities.

Dudley Dean

Maresfield

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