Liz Truss was rebuked for being “cheap” during the latest Tory leadership hustings after she had criticised the media several times.
The foreign secretary had accused “some of the media” of trying to “talk our country down” during the event in Darlington and also accused journalists of framing questions in a “leftwing way”.
Tom Newton Dunn, a TalkTV television presenter who chaired the event, asked the South West Norfolk MP about her plans to help people with rising energy bills using tax cuts, when he mentioned “your handouts” as he sought to pose a question.
Truss interrupted, replying: “They are not giveaways, Tom. This is people’s money, but this is the problem with the way that every question is framed.”
She added: “You’re framing it in a leftwing way, Tom. I’m afraid the whole media does this all the time … it drives me mad.”
— The News Desk (@TheNewsDesk) August 9, 2022
Truss was later asked if Boris Johnson’s downfall as prime minister was of his own making or someone else’s. Some audience members shouted out, saying it was the “media”.
Truss said: “Sounds like you’re being blamed, Tom, and, you know, who am I to disagree with this excellent audience?”
Asked to clarify her view, she outlined that she was a “loyal cabinet minister”, but did not directly answer the question, saying “what is done is done and we are where we are”.
Later, talking about spending commitments and her plans, Truss said: “I believe in Britain, unlike some of the media who choose to talk our country down.”
Newton Dunn replied: “For the record, that’s the third time you’ve attacked the media – a lot of which supports your campaign.”
At the end of the debate she was caught on a microphone apologising to Newton Dunn, saying: “I am sorry I was mean about the media, Tom.”
Newton Dunn replied that the jibes about the media were “cheap”.
Last week, Truss was forced into a U-turn on plans to cut civil service pay outside London after the proposals were met with an outcry from Conservative MPs. She subsequently accused the media of misrepresenting her plans, which led to the Conservative former chief whip, Mark Harper, a supporter of Rishi Sunak, insisting that Truss should “stop blaming journalists”.