Media Money: Simon Jenkins and the Axis of Gloom

Last week, Simon Jenkins identified a new threat to national security – the Axis Of Gloom.

Economists, historians, philosophers, bishops and Marxists, he said, were all engaged in ‘a silly and damaging exercise in talking down confidence’in the economy.

As coalitions go, this one’s a corker. Arguably, it contains more ideological discontinuities than President Bush’s Axis Of Evil. (Have Eric Hobsbawm and the Bishop of Manchester got less in common than Kim Jong-Il and Bashar al-Assad? Of course.)

Oddly, however, Jenkins didn’t blame the media for its part in spreading gloom. But for most normal people, the media has become Public Enemy No.2 – after the banking classes.

Anywhere you go outside Islington, the same thought recurs among ordinary people: ‘I blame the papers and TV for spreading all of this gloom.”

For most people, the coming recession is an inexplicable event compounded by the massive negative feedback loop of 24/7 news coverage. They deeply resent being cowed into submission.

But the media’s fixation is inevitable. It’s possibly even useful in social terms. When unemployment finally knocks on the door – like one of Stalin’s NKVD goons – it’s arguably best that you understand he hasn’t popped round for tea and scones.

Back in the 1970s, when news was in shorter supply, we came over all aggressive. Perhaps this time, we’ll go more quietly.

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