Boris Johnson's 'hero' persona excuses four-letter outburst at taxi driver

Boris Johnson gets away with being unapologetic about his expletive-filled outburst at a taxi driver because his media persona is that of a "hero", according to a senior Sky News journalist.

Simon Bucks: News these days is about heroes and villains
Simon Bucks: News these days is about heroes and villains

Speaking at PRWeek’s Crisis Communications conference yesterday, Sky News associate editor (online) Simon Bucks contrasted the London Mayor with ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, who "came across as a twat" when he appeared to rely too closely on media training.

Bucks said news these days is about "heroes and villains".

"The heroes quite often emerge because they’re open, they’re honest, they’re good people. They may be defending something terrible that’s gone wrong, but they appear to be good people. Being open, interesting, apparently honest, will go quite a long way."

Earlier this week a film emerged in The Sun of Johnson swearing at a taxi driver. Doorstepped by journalists, Johnson said he was just "getting the ball back over the net".

Bucks said: "He does optimise that hero, even though he’s done something horribly wrong."

He added that Richard Branson’s lauded response to the Virgin Galactic crash last year also showed how the Virgin boss "somehow manages brilliantly to be a hero, and perhaps counter intuitively".

In contrast, Bucks said Miliband was the "most egregious case" of someone using media training badly, highlighting an interview in which the Labour MP responded with the same stock answer regardless of the question. "He just came across as a twat," said Bucks.

He told the conference in London that media training should be about "helping you be yourself, but at the same time trying to sell the positive story".

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