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October 8, 2008

Satire for an apocalypse: Robert Peston’s atoms “woven into the very fabric of the universe”

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

The BBC’s Robert Peston has resumed his position at the eye of the storm. On Tuesday morning, he broke news of the banks’ negotiations with HM Treasury and No.10 about recapitalization.

The damaging sequence in Peston’s report suggested that the bankers instructed Alastair Darling, the Chancellor, to “pull his finger out and finalise whatever it is he’s eventually prepared to offer on taxpayers’ behalf”.

These apparently irritable exchanges took place on Monday evening. Peston’s story appeared on Tuesday morning. The suggestion of wrangling behind closed doors sent the market into another steep decline.

This morning, the Mail has taken a mild pop at Peston (“the man who moves the markets”).

City traders were angered by his report, which unleashed renewed market turmoil, and there was astonishment at the Treasury and fury within Government that news of the secret meeting had been given to Mr Peston.

One Government source placed the blame squarely on the banks, accusing them of trying to use the media to bounce the Government into recapitalisation.

The source said: ‘They are the architects of their own downfall. What are they doing briefing Peston about their meeting when they know what trouble that will create in the markets?’

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(Funny that. More than a few observers have suggested that Peston’s source might have been an overconfident employee of HM Treasury. . .)

This is all grist to the mill at FT Alphaville, where they’re reporting — I use the word loosely — that Peston has been transformed into “a shimmering orb of pale blue light hovering about four feet above his chair at the BBC Television Centre”.

According to BBC director general Mark Thompson: “He is no longer Robert Peston, BBC business editor. His atoms are now woven into the very fabric of the universe. He is become pure news.”

Blimey. Apocalyptic satire, anyone?

UPDATE: Sorry, that bit about Pesto’s atomic structure comes from The Daily Mash. The Alphaville boys were just quoting it. . .

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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