i Editor's Letter: The public gets what it deserves


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The Independent Online


Why does anyone get bothered by what Jeremy Clarkson says? We can surely by now see through the tired schtick of this old-school contrarian, happy to throw un-PC grenades just to get a rise? A run through of what the latest fuss is about is here.

In brief, the UK’s leading jeans-wearer told the BBC’s One Show: that all strikers should be shot. “I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.” Cue manufactured outrage. Unison called for the old boor to be sacked, Ed Miliband described the comments as “disgraceful and disgusting” and – as I write – there have been 5,000 complaints.

The BBC said in an apology that the item “wasn’t perfectly judged”. The PM struck the right note with his dismissive “it’s a silly thing to say”. The big but?

Clarkson commands a real following. Remember the petition on Number 10’s website to make him PM? It closed with nearly 50,000 signatures?

It also pains me to tell you that he is the only genuine banker in that rarest of lists: journalists that are – to use the phrase beloved of moneymen everywhere – “monetisable”. His views on cars earn money for the BBC, News International, book and magazine publishers alike. It may just be a coincidence that Top Gear: Official Annual 2012 is on sale now, “the perfect Christmas gift”. Not for me, though.

I must be one of the few men never to have watched Top Gear. I didn’t even know what “Stig” was when there was all that fuss about him being unmasked. But I know Top Gear is hugely popular and that viewers revere Clarkson's view on motors, the “monetisable” ones.

And, the rest? Maybe, given his popularity, the public really does get the media it deserves.

See you tomorrow.