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BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt faced intense hostility at an anti-lockdown rally on Downing Street. Such was the fury of the BBC-hating mob the anchorman newscaster had to flee behind the police barrier from jeerers chasing him and calling him a traitor.
The encounter was filmed and released by a group called Resistance GB during a protest against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to postpone the lifting of the lockdown in England by four more weeks. Watt approached the cameraman, apparently mistaking him for someone working for GB News, the freshly-launched government-independent TV channel.
It didn’t take long after his mistake was clarified for the Resistance GB crew and nearby protestors to start accusing Watt of reporting lies on behalf of the government while receiving his paycheck from the British public. The BBC editor, who wore his press card around his neck, chickened out of a response and he tried to at first unflappably walk away.
However, the scene quickly escalated into a wild chase by angry protestors. The furious demonstrators hounded the journalist, booing at him, calling him a traitor and even grabbing him by the shoulder at one point.
Watts eventually managed to escape, running to gain some distance from his pursuers and fleeing behind a police barrier guarding the prime minister’s residence.
The incident was widely condemned by British media and public figures. Newsnight editor Esme Wren said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ to harass and intimidate any journalist. Guardian columnist Owen Jones called the scene ‘disturbing’ and a case study of radicalization of the public.
Various right-wing media outlets have given a platform to conspiratorial ideas about Covid-19, and now there’s an entire TV station to fuel them further,’ he whined in an apparent jab at GB News.
MPs across the political aisle likewise condemned the incident. Tory MP Alicia Kearns tried to shame what she called a ‘baying mob’ and said Nick Watt deserves better.
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