The Mail on Sunday, a right-wing UK tabloid, published a hit piece on Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition, insinuating that she uses her legs—and by comparison with Basic Instinct her vagina— to "distract" the Prime Minister. But the ludicrous, smirking sexism is proving to be a bigger distraction, with even conservative politicians angry at the naked misogyny on display.
Ms Rayner dismissed the story as a "perverted smear" that showed women in politics faced misogyny every day. On Sunday Mr Johnson criticised the comments tweeting: "As much as I disagree with Angela Rayner on almost every political issue, I respect her as a parliamentarian and deplore the misogyny directed at her anonymously today." … Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told BBC Breakfast that "instead of just tweeting, the prime minister needs to get his house in order" and ensure that his MPs did not think they had "carte blanche to be saying this sort of thing".
Not really addressed is the context of publication. This wasn't the Mail on Sunday dutifully reporting an awful but newsworthy thing said by Tory MPs. This was the Mail on Sunday posing these sources for a hit piece so it reads like news rather than mere opinion. The Mail (and its sunday counterpart) have a long history of casual, tacky fabrication and there's no reason to assume that these sources were acting under their own steam, at all. They were more likely told the brief and expected to say something nasty in pursuit of it.
So all the talk of exposing these sources is just for show—a distraction from the distraction resulting from a fake story about a distraction. Perhaps we'll get to learn more about how the sausage is made. The more likely outcomes are it all blowing over without anyone ending up any the wiser or the Mail burning someone to distract from its own authorship of the story.
Of special note: the original story has been replaced by a story about the story [archive.org] in classic minitrue style.