Oris Johnson complained to the children that journalists “always abuse people” while visiting a school.
The prime minister, a former journalist, made the comments during a visit to Sedgehill Academy in Lewisham, southeast London.
It seemed to suggest that journalists should be careful about criticizing others without putting themselves in their shoes.
The prime minister said he still writes “things,” but hinted that he moved into politics because he felt “guilty” for always criticizing others.
He said, “When you’re a journalist, it’s a great, great job, it’s a great profession. But the problem is that sometimes you always find yourself abusing people, attacking people.
“It is not that you want to abuse them or attack them, but you are being critical.
“When maybe sometimes you feel a little guilty about that because you have not put yourself in the shoes of the person you are criticizing. So I thought I’d give it a try.
Johnson was a reporter for The Times in the late 1980s, but was fired for making up a quote. He later worked at the Daily Telegraph as a Brussels correspondent and served as an editor for the conservative magazine The Spectator.
The Prime Minister himself has sparked controversy over comments he made in articles over the years, including referring to Muslim women as “mailboxes,” gay men as “sleeveless bums” and blacks as Piccaninnies.
The prime minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, told Westminster reporters in a briefing: “That’s the prime minister talking about the fact that all of you, and indeed I, at one time, your job is to constantly challenge And that’s something that makes all of us in government better.
“I think that was all he was doing, he was describing that the role of journalism is to constantly ask the details and the finer points.”