"When you’re a journalist it’s a great, great job – it’s a great profession. But the trouble is that sometimes you find yourself always abusing people, attacking people," Johnson, a former journalist himself, told pupils during a visit to a school in south London.
Reacting to Johnson’s remarks, the NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said that the prime minister’s remarks reveal his complete disdain for journalism and press freedom.
The head of the UK and Ireland journalists union said that it also shows his lack of respect for the vital role journalists have played in keeping the public informed during the COVID-19 pandemic and his own crass lack of empathy for the harassment, abuse and intimidation journalists meet simply for doing their job.
Labour shadow media minister Chris Matheson also criticised the prime minister for his remarks and said he should withdraw them.
Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton later told reporters attending a press briefing that the prime minister was referring to the challenge journalists face.
In the late 80s, Johnson used to work for The Times newspaper but was fired for fabricating a quote. His articles often sparked controversy as to when he referred to black as "piccaninnies" or to Muslim women wearing bourkas as "letterboxes."