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Equalities Minister Attacks Journalist For Asking Questions Over Vaccination Video

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak with the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch in February 2020.
Deontaye Osazuwa

No.10 has defended equalities minister Kemi Badenoch after calling HuffPost journalist Nadine White “creepy and bizarre” for asking questions about a cross-party video encouraging vaccine take up in Black communities.

In a heated Twitter thread , Ms Badenoch published private emails that Ms White had sent asking why the minister did not participate in the video. Ms Badenoch went on to tweet that Ms White’s fixation of her absence in the video was “an unfortunate reminder of why there is so much confusion and mistrust.” Ms Badenoch went on to accuse the HuffPost of being quite happy to “to undermine our efforts to build trust in the vaccine by making absurd claims.” 

White describes being faced with “a pile-on”

Ms Badenoch’s comments have been met with backlash from journalists on social media.  Charlene White, a new anchor for ITV News, tweeted, “So you’re telling me that we’ve reached a point where a journalist can’t reasonably ask a Minister for a comment on a story, without a tantrum being thrown — and the journo’s request being aired publicly?”. However, it is Nadine White who has apparently suffered the most pushback for her emails. In an interview with HuffPost USA, White describes being faced with “a pile-on”.  

“As a result of abuse from far-right trolls, I’ve been forced to switch my public profile to private in order to preserve my mental health,” she said. 

White’s editor at the HuffPost, Jess Brammar, came to her defence on the social media platform, tweeting “it is correct and standard practice for journalists to check facts and approach people in public office for comment.” She also brought attention to the often-hostile environment Black women face online.   

“Young, female, black journalists receive some of the worst abuse on Twitter, and to behave in this way is extremely disappointing – even before you consider that the person involved is the minister for equalities.” 

the PM respected her right to question government ministers

Boris Johnson’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, did not say if the Prime Minister condoned Kemi Badenoch’s behaviour to publish private emails online. Ms Stratton said she was not aware of the Prime Minister speaking to Ms Badenoch about the incident. She also did not answer questions on whether Ms Badenoch would face any disciplinary action. When asked why Badenoch decided to post the emails online, Stratton responded: “You’ll have to get comment from Kemi herself in terms of Kemi’s motive.” 

She went on to describe the HuffPost journalist as “a great young journalist” and said the PM respected her right to question government ministers. 

It is understood that the website is making a complaint to the Cabinet Office over the matter. 

Deontaye Osazuwa

Featured image courtesy of HM Treasury on Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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