Monday, 30 March 2009

A quick check

Private Eye sells many papers based on exposing journalists' hypocrisy, and it is rather easy to do.

Take Dan Atkinson, for instance, loudly declaring in this column, and in this book, that evil power-hungry bankers and politicians knowingly ignored the dangers of excess credit.

Well, how about Dan Atkinson's own output, in his role as senior journalist at the Mail. Surely, during those crazy boom years of 2005 and 2006 he was shouting from the rooftops that we were headed for a crash. Surely?

Er, no.

"No one now doubts that the UK consumer has over-borrowed in recent years. As long as employment prospects are good and interest rates remain low, it will not be a problem," said Atkinson in a jointly bylined piece at the beginning of 2006.

In all, of the 63 financial articles he wrote in 2005 and 2006 for the Mail, only 3 concerned debt, and one of these was about the Bank of England warning about excessive debt. Another one argued that regulations were unfairly hampering people from borrowing.

So at the time of the boom, Atkinson's opinion were pretty much in line with leading politicians and bankers. Yep, those same ones that he wrote his angry book denouncing.

And, no, it doesn't really matter. Journalists get it wrong all the time. However, this time around these accusations are being taken up people baying for bankers' blood. At such a time, the truth is precious.

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