Saturday 23 January 2021

The Case of the Deleted Tweet


A Twitter mystery. 

Earlier today Emily Maitlis posted a tweet about crowds at a London airport with a cryptic remark that I can't quite remember. I thought on seeing it, 'What's she getting at there?'. I assumed she be 'getting at' something, sending out dog whistles of some kind to her followers to condemn someone or something, but I moved on and postponed thinking about it again till later. 

And now that tweet has vanished. 

Enjoying a bit of detective work I've tried tracking the replies.

One demanded "context", saying the crowds were probably socially distanced and complaining that "a once world-leading Broadcaster, setting the standards for others" has sunk to "now following the clicks".

Another wrote (after the deletion), "I’m a little concerned why you have deleted your earlier tweet featuring a photo of a busy Heathrow Airport terminal? Was it inaccurate? At times like these we need to rely on a vigilant and accurate media, if we don’t have this then what do we actually have?". 

Another wrote (before the deletion), "You do realise a lot of these people would have been sitting in close proximity to each other on their flights. The question should be why are so many people flying at all? Did you need to go to the States? Couldn’t you have done the job from the studio?"

That was a theme others took up: "That's the price you pay for your two week jolly in the States, paid for by licence payers."

Someone else accused her of "stirring": "You know that everyone now flying has had the 72 hour Covid test prior to flying in which case you know these people are  Covid free! Stop stirring - again."

A clue as to what Emily Maitlis might have been 'getting at' came with this reply: "The negative effects of Brexit are already being felt as British passport holders wait in constricted airport lobby with no social distancing."


And having just written all this, I see that some fine soul screengrabbed the vanished tweet:

What point do you think Emily Maitlis was trying to make? And why did she delete her tweet (without comment) after an hour or two of replies?


Whatever, it highlights again the dangers of social media overactivity by BBC presenters, for themselves and for the BBC as a whole. It keeps getting them into trouble.

Plus, that "following the clicks" charge against the BBC is demonstrated by this very tweet. It was just sent out, without context, begging for clicks.

And another good question was raised in those replies: Why does Emily Maitlis keep flitting backwards and forwards between the UK and the US during a pandemic rather than leave it to the US's many US-based journalists (e.g. Jon Sopel and Anthony Zurcher)? Is such travel necessary?


Evening Update: Well, well, well...

Sky News is tweeting tonight about Sky's editor-at-large (must resist cruel puns!) Adam Boulton. 

Adam's not happy:
"This is welcome to Britain... not ideal." Sky's editor-at-large @adamboultonSKY was in a queue for one hour and 20 minutes at Heathrow, returning from the United States. The airport has said a two-metre rule inside has never been feasible.

It doesn't reflect well on Adam Boulton or Sky that they clearly failed to guess how most people would (very naturally) react to that 'entitled' tweet. 

They are now, of course, getting an absolute pasting for it.

Here's a small but representative selection:  

  • My heart bleeds for him. I’m sure the trip to the US was really essential too.
  • I noticed Sky, BBC, Ch4 etc. all sent multiple presenters and crew members to the US this past week. Could that not be covered by people already on site or remotely? It’s no use lambasting people who are struggling to put food on the table. Expecting them to step aside for you.
  • And to be fair no news reporters need to travel. Just use colleagues in the relevant countries.
  • We're in the middle of a global pandemic where most of us are stuck in our houses, so my cup of sympathy about his airport woes is, quite frankly, empty.
  • What was so important that he had to travel? Not heard of video calling? Instead just adds to the problem. Well done!

Many have been far less charitable.

Looking at this, Emily Maitlis now seems almost sensible for deleting her tweet. Adam Boulton and the crowd at Sky appear utterly clueless in comparison. (Kay and Beth might have a chuckle at this, if no one else).

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