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  • No more I love yous…


    by Kulvinder
    11th September, 2007 at 8:13 am    

    As the macabre soap-opera that is the Madeleine McCann disappearance takes increasingly unbearable twists the media has found surprisingly novel ways of lowering what little expectation I have in them.

    It’s worth pointing out before I go any further that the McCanns have not been found guilty nevertheless I think the reaction of the ‘professional’ media is worthy of some comment.

    David Jones in the Mail has already started the curious hand-wringing:

    Because if, by some dark twist, it transpires that Kate and Gerry McCann have really known all along what happened to Madeleine - that they were responsible and staged the most elaborate imaginable cover-up - the consequences would be harmful almost beyond measure…

    …It would make cynics of us all - and that would be as sad, in its way, as losing little Madeleine.

    Which is an absurd thing to say considering the media and printed press in particular have been all too willing participants in the entire ‘cover up’.

    The press never went to Portugal to objectively cover and relay the course of an investigation; they went with an agenda. This was not only a paedophile witch-hunt it was the best of all paedophile witch-hunts in that a pretty and photogenic girl was missing in a foreign country. To overlook the absolute insincerity with which the various news organisations travelled to Portugal is to ignore their biggest failure. If the various editors had been standoffish and objective about the entire matter the McCann campaign would never have got a fraction of the attention it did.

    To even allude to them being victims of a slick media campaign is to ignore the fact they were willing participants. The groundwork for the last few months was laid by their sensationalist and low brow reporting over the last few years. The editors wanted the paedophile campaign, they wanted the calls for laws to be changed, they wanted a prism for their views. The McCanns may have organised photo opportunities and interviews but they didn’t compile the in-your-face reporting we witnessed. Its worth clarifying in your own mind the difference between the McCanns publicising something and the media reporting it. If we’re honest with ourselves most of those irritated with the find Madeleine campaign are essentially irritated with the coverage – something the McCanns were never in control of.

    To be blunt if the McCanns are guilty of instigating a cover-up the editors are morally culpable for perpetuating it.

    The various news organisations did not simply cover the news they took part in it. At present it appears Robert Murat didn’t become a suspect through evidence gathering but because he was ‘shopped’ by a coquettish Lori Campbell from the Sunday Mirror - who was then more than happy to relay her instinctual accusations to the broadcast media:

    But it is what he said next that really set my alarm bells ringing.

    I asked why he was so touched by her disappearance. “I have a daughter of the same age,” he replied. “In fact, she’s the spitting image of Madeleine. I felt sick to the stomach when I heard. I rushed here as soon as I could to offer my help.”

    Dear God.

    If he’s found to be innocent in all of this I hope she’ll have the decency to not only apologise to him in person but take also take a hard look at her ‘instincts’.

    The dead wood press often accuse the blogosphere of being incapable of giving thoughtful comment; I’d argue their unprofessional sensationalism is far worse a flaw. What room is there for impartial coverage if Robert Murat has to hire Max Clifford to manage the media that accuses and judges him? There is nothing of merit left in the British press if we’ve reached the stage where we’re all better off insuring ourselves with PR companies on the off chance the prejudicial reporting of our media outlets should, god forbid, focus on us.

    What’s more the shift in focus of the investigation has brought out the worst kind of conspiracy theorist xenophobic nonsense. The Mail wants to use this deeply unpleasant story as a medium to convey ‘our’ (their) ‘true attitude to EU membership’; under the circumstances I find that article quite repugnant. Most of the papers seem happy to shovel on paragraph after paragraph of print deriding the Portuguese and their judicial system whilst completely ignoring the fact the DNA analysis was done in Britain.

    Our legal system is not inherently better than that of Portugal. We do not live in a blessed land of freedom and justice, on the contrary we live in country that has trigger happy politicians that bring in new laws seemingly on a whim and a police force determined to have the genetic profile of every individual.

    The BBC was also party to this industry wide failure. I whole heartedly agree with the comments of Martin Bell, infact I’d go further. I’m incredibly uneasy with their relatively informal approach to grouping the stories under the banner ‘SEARCH FOR MADELEINE’. Does the BBC know Madeleine McCann?

    Is this one of those great 21st Century searches alongside ‘Search for Osama’, ‘Search for Saddam’ and as of last week ‘Search for Steve’?! What on earth was Caroline Hawley – a war reporter I have immense respect for doing covering a single issue story that was essentially about little more than relaying new developments? Is John Simpson going in next?

    I have no doubt that at some stage the tabloids will with bare-faced cheek turn the unquestioning lauding of the McCanns into a sustained campaign of vilification. If you can’t have the paedophile you may as well settle for the bad mother. From my own point of view I genuinely wish them well regardless of what’s happened. Whilst its true that they are middle class professionals their status shouldn’t have any more say in limiting compassion than if they were working class.

    Last year a fair amount of coverage was devoted to Emma Kelly a woman jailed for nine years after she supplied drugs to her child. I felt the treatment and reporting of a woman who was clearly in need of help not imprisonment was grotesque. I felt that doubly so this year when without comment her suicide was reported. Its worth remembering that for all that happened her 13 year old son would not have celebrated her death, in all probability quite the opposite. Turning the McCanns into avatars of evil would serve no purpose. I hope that regardless of outcome this is all settled as soon as possible and they can be left in peace to bring up their remaining children.

    As for the news reporters and editors, I wish, though have little hope that they’ll seriously contemplate on the fact they were part of the story. It became as big as it did mainly because they allowed it to, not because the McCanns forced it so. They are morally culpable.

    Postscript

    Regarding the ethical debate surrounding the use of the ‘Madeleine fund’ for defence costs. Whilst that use may indeed be against the implicit nature of the fundraising how are the tabloids in any position to take the moral high ground?

    After all in the case of Ali Ismaeel Abbas the editors were more than happy to drum up sales by plastering their papers with fundraising efforts that were themselves implicitly linked to Ali Abbas even though he himself did not benefit from the donations.

    By the time Ali arrived in Kuwait, a small fortune had been donated by concerned readers of British newspapers, implicitly to go to his care. The London Evening Standard, Sun and Daily Mirror between them raised a total of £725,000, split between Unicef, the British Red Cross and Save the Children (none of it has been spent directly on Ali - the papers did not claim that it would be, though it was all earmarked for use in Iraq).

    It could obviously be argued that the money raised did eventually help someone and as such was vaguely true to its intentions, but the McCanns could rightly point out their fund expressly stipulated that financial support of the family was a possibility, and that in their case there won’t be any ancillary benefits, like increased profit.

    My point isn’t to defend the use in either circumstance, but to juxtapose the behaviour of the press in one instance with their righteous questioning in another.


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    1. Madeleine McCann and the British Media | DesiPundit

      [...] criticizes the British media for their sensationalist coverage of the Madeleine McCann case. The press never went to Portugal to objectively cover and relay the course of an investigation; [...]


    2. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » The novelty soaks in

      [...] appallingly busy with real world stuff of late, but having been pointed, by Mr Eugenides, to this excellent and finely nuanced commentary on the increasingly tortuous ‘relationship’ between the media and the McCanns - way to [...]




    1. Boyo — on 11th September, 2007 at 8:49 am  

      “It became as big as it did mainly because they allowed it to, not because the McCanns forced it so.”

      Not really - it was a cracking news story, as any journalist would tell you - so certainly got the first burst of coverage it deserved. This was perpetuated by the McCanns (it would have dropped off the radar pretty quickly otherwise, even in a slow news summer) with the best intentions I’m sure, although I wondered how helpful it would be:

      - would the kidnapper(s) think it easier to kill the child? She was not after all missing but had been kidnapped.

      It sometimes seems to me that UK culture is now so “celebrity” or spin driven that people think publicity is the solution to everything. But as an occassional spin doctor myself, I can tell you it certainly isn’t. It’s an art, not a science, and can have all sorts of unpredictable consequences. Just look at David Kelly…

      A few weeks into the case another mother (Portugese) came forward and warned the McCanns to be careful. When her missing child had not been found, the police had fitted her up, she claimed.

      Portugal was a fascist dictatorship until a few decades ago and had no revolution, or much reform.

      We forget when we holiday in the EU what a diverse and very different history we all have. It would not surprise me if a (albeit technically former) fascist organ decided to shut the parents up, or even fit them up when all else fails. Apologies for the relativism failure, and all that, but there we are.

      A few years ago a massive paedophile scandal was uncovered that involved senior politicians, TV presenters, the church etc and was kept under wraps for decades

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3086521.stm

      There’s not been much coverage of this in the light of the McCann case, but it proves Portugal is not all sandy beaches and sea food. The last thing the police need is another high-profile failure…

    2. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2007 at 8:59 am  

      This was perpetuated by the McCanns (it would have dropped off the radar pretty quickly otherwise, even in a slow news summer) with the best intentions I’m sure, although I wondered how helpful it would be:

      The McCanns never had editorial control. If your argument is they ‘fooled’ the media i reiterate the media allowed themselves to be ‘fooled’.

    3. Letters From A Tory — on 11th September, 2007 at 9:17 am  

      A nice opinion article. The media have got carried away as usual with reporting the story that they wanted this to be, not what it really was. Of course a small girl disappearing in a foreign country is tragic, but the lack of objectivity from the media has made it impossible to understand what the police are doing and why they are doing it.

    4. Boyo — on 11th September, 2007 at 10:55 am  

      Kulvinder. No, that’s not my argument. I’ve no doubt in their sincerity or innocence.

    5. Leon — on 11th September, 2007 at 10:59 am  

      Thanks to this article’s title I can’t get that Annie Lennox tune out of my head…

    6. Nyrone — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:01 am  

      Great piece, made a lot of sense to me.

      I honestly feel that a re-examination of the roots of broadcast journalism are needed. To understand the McCann case and how it has snowballed, we should isolate a clearer purpose of what the role of the news actually is…I think the roots are rotten, and when even social activism campaigns are thinly-disguised attempts to shift more units, you have to ponder about the sincerity of everything else being pumped out by these ‘infomation’ houses that ‘lead’ the news agenda.

      The mainstream British media are acting like there is no other news to report on around the world, I have to switch over to Al-Jazeera International to stop from going insane. Spin is one thing, but this convergence of spin, celebrity, media, fame ETC over the last few years is just unsettling.

      As I’ve argued over the years, I really feel that the 24-hour news broadcast circus has contributed to a situation where our ‘news’ is moving closer to entertainment/news like the bright, flashy, sparkling INFO-BITES on American news, which is blatantly about short, sharp occurences that leave you dazed for long enough for them to plug some toothpaste commercials.

      What is news, and what is it’s purpose? Why does reporting on Afghanistan get scaled down for tons more coverage of a little, (white) beautiful missing girl?

    7. Ravi Naik — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:12 am  

      “Portugal was a fascist dictatorship until a few decades ago and had no revolution, or much reform.”

      There was a bloodless revolution in Abril 1974, where it became a democracy. Perhaps because of its dictatorship past, secret police and whatnot, it is far more lenient with suspects than in Britain, and the sentences are much lighter. The Portuguese are furious right now that the McCanns were allowed to leave the country when they became official suspects, but there you go.

    8. Boyo — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:29 am  

      Yes, there was a “revolution”, but there are revolutions and revolutions… this was a “bloodless coup led by the military”… didn’t I mention spin earlier?

    9. El Cid — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:57 am  

      A brave and needed article, if a little too sure of itself (that’s the article, not Kulvinder).
      I’m slightly confused by your conclusions and would like a little clarification.
      I think it is fair to say that the media are morally culpable — very fair. The media is bang to rights as far as I am concerned. Middle-class and presentable doctors — I think editors are guilty of getting too close to the story.
      However, there was an unprecedented grassroots campaign to raise awareness of the issue that took in a tour of Europe and Morocco, including (!) Il Papa. The point of all that publicity was to generate public awareness and maybe — just maybe — help get her back. So don’t be too unfair Kulvy. The cause was worthy.
      Moreoever, can you really really find fault with this statement:
      “…It would make cynics of us all - and that would be as sad, in its way, as losing little Madeleine.”
      Are you sure?
      Maybe you want to have a pop at Newsround too.

      (God I hate this story.)

    10. Geoff — on 11th September, 2007 at 12:17 pm  

      We now live in an age where emotion trumps the rational every time, the media plays the nation’s emotions like fiddle. (the peoples princess)

      The world’s press credibility is on trial here.

    11. Leon — on 11th September, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

      We now live in an age where emotion trumps the rational every time, the media plays the nation’s emotions like fiddle. (the peoples princess)

      Yep. Since day one I’ve seen parallels with this and Dania/etc.

      The McCanns played the game too; they asked for funding and what did they do? They hired a pr worker, started a massive media campaign.

      Seems to me that spending a good few hundred thousand on private investigators might have produced more ‘hope’ of a lead than having people put up posters in the UK (something I still find surreal).

    12. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

      However, there was an unprecedented grassroots campaign to raise awareness of the issue that took in a tour of Europe and Morocco, including (!) Il Papa.

      I don’t think it was really grassroots, sure people stuck up a banner on their blog or whatever but it was essentially a centralised publicity machine, why bother having a PR officer otherwise?

      Moreoever, can you really really find fault with this statement:
      “…It would make cynics of us all - and that would be as sad, in its way, as losing little Madeleine.”

      I think the journalist in question was already a cynic and is being disingenuous.

    13. jim jay — on 11th September, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

      Good piece.

      I think the point that the media campaign may have actually put Madelaine McCann’s life at risk is an important one.

      *If* she had been kidnapped the unprecedented international PR/media campaign may have made her safe return extra ordinarily unlikely. That’s not to blame the parents in this circumstance but more the race for headlines and ratings which prioritises up to the minute sensation over good sense and the truth.

      Of course, *if* the parents are culpable then the media have been willing dupes to the whole thing and can get a load more acres of coverages out of “oh how can we have been so silly” / “foreign police framed the mccanns” stories afterwards.

      Either way the media aren’ty coming out of this smelling of roses

    14. El Cid — on 11th September, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

      You think, therefore you are
      Not convincing answers mate. Still, as i said earlier, good article, 7/10

    15. Boyo — on 11th September, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

      i don’t know why everyone’s slagging off the media. It is what it is.

      “Seems to me that spending a good few hundred thousand on private investigators might have produced more ‘hope’ of a lead than having people put up posters in the UK (something I still find surreal).”

      makes sense to me.

    16. Boyo — on 11th September, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

      anyway, isn’t this “the media”? Certainly sunny is.

    17. Ravi Naik — on 11th September, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

      Yes, there was a “revolution”, but there are revolutions and revolutions…

      Oh dear. Do you really want to discuss the difference between revolution and revolution? Instead of learning your history from opinion makers in the British tabloids, here is an article about the carnation revolution.

      I am sick and tired of this story. Any outcome of this investigation is a tragedy. But we all know that if the McCanns ever confess, or a body is found pointing to the McCanns, that the media will crucify them, not only for having deceived all of us, but also for all the media’s sins in this matter.

    18. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

      I really don’t know what to make of this case, and frankly I am more than a little disturbed that the British Press and bloggs seem to be spending their whole time playing Miss Marples. What, exactly, would be wrong with everyone standing back and allowing the Portuguese Police to just get on with it?

      This morning we had the Daily Express claiming that there was a full DNA profile match from blood samples found in a hired car, a car hired by the McCanns some weeks after the alleged abduction.

      http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/18829

      At lunchtime, the BBC has an interview with someone in the Portuguese Police who said it was not conclusive evidence.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6988485.stm

      Who to believe? And anyway why should we think we are the judge and jury. We should simply let justice take it’s course.

      Did it not use to be the case that the Press were not supposed to speculate whilst enquiries were ongoing?

    19. Sofia — on 11th September, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

      “What, exactly, would be wrong with everyone standing back and allowing the Portuguese Police to just get on with it?” Douglas because time and again the media in this country has made the portuguese out to be a bunch of incompetents. We seem to have forgotten our own miscarriages of justice which had to have had some basis in dodgy police findings.
      I do think the whole McCann media circus really disturbing. Am I right in having read that they had also hired a campaigns person?? If that is right, and frankly I don’t believe much thats come out, then I think that is a bit odd.

    20. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 3:38 pm  

      Sofia,

      Hi.

      I think I’m right in saying you can’t be a member of the EU unless you subscribe to the Copenhagen Criteria:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_criteria

      Which seems to set reasonable standards for conducting justice in member nations of the EU. I doubt very much that the Portuguese Police are acting against these precepts. For the British Media, who are largely a scrum, to criticise another member counties judiciary is frankly ridiculous. It does also seem that the media feel themselves to be competent to second guess the folk that are actually charged with investigating this matter.

      As you rightly say, if we look at some of the cases that have come up in the UK recently, we as a nation have nothing much to crow about. I would be better pleased if our media just reported facts and did not get quite so overheated. But the media thinks it controls the mob, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. What it certainly does do is undermine due process.

      Whatever, this is certainly a tragedy for Madeleine McCann.

    21. Craig — on 11th September, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

      Everyone has an opinion on this - and I must say mine agrees mostly with your’s.

      Hopefully this will all come to a conclusion pretty soon, and only then will we (maybe) learn the truth.

    22. Ravi Naik — on 11th September, 2007 at 3:48 pm  

      Douglas because time and again the media in this country has made the portuguese out to be a bunch of incompetents. We seem to have forgotten our own miscarriages of justice which had to have had some basis in dodgy police findings.

      Jean Charles de Menezes fiasco comes to mind.

    23. sonia — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:05 pm  

      i feel sorry for the other kids the family has - everyone seems to have forgotten about them. they’re the ones who’ll have to deal with the fallout - long after the press and everyone else has forgotten.

      i didn’t follow this whole hoo ha because i didnt see much point, it was terribly sad and the media was just sucking on everyone’s empathy : they love these kinds of human tragedy. i didnt realize for ages that there were these two other kids.

    24. chairwoman — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

      just wanted to say hi. Still in hospital. Still waiting for proper treatment, still no internet. This via mobile. Full story on release - date tba. BTW they always looked suspect to me

    25. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

      chairwoman,

      Good to hear from you! Get well soon.

    26. sonia — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

      but yes, its simply weird the way there is such a furore about the possibility anyone might consider her parents as suspects. i mean we obviously don’t know, neither does the media, of course we would prefer the criminal to be a weirdo psychopath, but it’s not about us is it? it is only sensible to check out the possibility that they may be involved.

    27. sonia — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

      hey chairwoman!! hope things are going well with you..

    28. ReadThisLink — on 11th September, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

      Who guards the guardians? No one.

      And until we do, nothing will change.

      Please read this - all of it:-
      http://www.pehi.eu - The Dutroux Affair

    29. Sunny — on 11th September, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

      hey chairwoman! lovely to hear from you, hope everything is going well.

      And on this case… I think I’m the only one who honestly does not have an opinion or cares.

    30. Leon — on 11th September, 2007 at 5:15 pm  

      BTW they always looked suspect to me

      Hey glad you’re ok, and up with the tech savvy crowd, posting from your mobile? You’ll have a blackberry next! :D

    31. Clara — on 11th September, 2007 at 5:58 pm  

      Boyo
      “A few weeks into the case another mother (Portugese) came forward and warned the McCanns to be careful. When her missing child had not been found, the police had fitted her up, she claimed.”

      I will not tell you the story of her daughter - her name is Joana and she was 10 years old -, because it is long, complicated and controversial and also because you probably don’t really care. You can do your own search if you bother enough. But I will tell you that the mother claims that she was beaten up by the police but failed to identify the supposed aggressors; that she’s trying to reopen the case because she now says she didn’t kill her daughter but sold her to Spain instead; that the mother waited two days before reporting Joana as missing. Why wasn’t that reported in the UK as well?

      Joana grew up in a dysfunctional family and suffered a lot in her very short life. The use of her story by UK media, from which only the mother’s claim was picked - the only bit of it that could help Kate’s image -, is one of the ugliest episodes in the coverage of the McCann’s story.

      “We forget when we holiday in the EU what a diverse and very different history we all have.”

      Indeed some of you do forget. You have a history of superiority complex. We don’t.

      Ravi
      “The Portuguese are furious right now that the McCanns were allowed to leave the country when they became official suspects, but there you go.”

      Some of them are and not without reason. First the media here made them believe the McCanns killed their daughter. Second, the exit to the UK is feeding the tale in your media that Portugal is a banana republic where police is corrupt and violent, human rights don’t apply and has laws nobody understands. The Portuguese have no patience for that.

      Leon
      “Seems to me that spending a good few hundred thousand on private investigators might have produced more ‘hope’ of a lead than having people put up posters in the UK (something I still find surreal).”

      The British investigators working with the Portuguese ones aren’t enough? I was fooled. Here I was buying the tale that as soon the British got here the case would be solved. And what happens? The McCanns are made arguidos. Oh dear, no wonder Kate wants the FBI now.
      But then again, why not send the private investigators? Send all you got. Maybe they can assist the British police too in finding out who killed Rhy Jones. Should be easy, there’s a body and a bullet, a lot more than the Madeleine investigation has. Money solves everything, right? It still didn’t help Madeleine though.

      Great article Kulvinder.

      I wish you all well.
      Clara
      Porto - Portugal

    32. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 8:06 pm  

      Clara,

      What you said. It needed saying.

      Thanks

    33. Siddharth — on 11th September, 2007 at 9:29 pm  

      Kulvinder - good post. This shit needed to be said.

      Chairwoman - nice to hear from you!

    34. El Cid — on 11th September, 2007 at 10:06 pm  

      Clara
      You got to admit that if the parents/mum is guilty, the Portuguese police have been shown to be seriously incompetent, and arguably humiliated. I mean, the body was allegedly hidden for three weeks before being transported in a hire car. How the fuck was that possible?
      That Keystone cops failure won’t help to eradicate the superiority complex you alluded to, neither will the dependence on foreign forensics.
      It’s not just the British media who are morally at fault.
      That too needed to be said.
      Perdon, pero sabes que es la verdad. Aunque no hables espanol, se que me entiendes.

    35. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 10:45 pm  

      El Cid,

      Could we not just let this all run to a conclusion? Let the real investigators, investigate? Instead of all playing Cluedo around half baked facts?

      AFAIK the forensic analysis was done in the UK.

      Do you want the FBI brought in?

    36. Ravi Naik — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:09 pm  

      “You got to admit that if the parents/mum is guilty, the Portuguese police have been shown to be seriously incompetent, and arguably humiliated. I mean, the body was allegedly hidden for three weeks before being transported in a hire car. How the fuck was that possible?

      And how would it look if the parents are not guilty, given the direction this investigation is going? The goal of the police is to find the truth, and if they do that, then this case - a very difficult one - will be successfully closed. As far as I can understand, the parents were not suspects of murder or covering the body at the time they allegedly moved the body. So with all the brouhaha about an abductor, it is possible that they would travel without suspicion with a 4-year old body.

      “Perdon, pero sabes que es la verdad. Aunque no hables espanol, se que me entiendes.”

      Obrigado pela tua versão da verdade. Mas a verdade mais importante é o que aconteceu no dia em que ela desapareceu. Agora a ver se percebes português. ;)

    37. douglas clark — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

      Oh this is so irritating, bloody polygots. So, you think you’re clever do you, do you? Well you are, so there. Stop it.

      Or I’ll start translating, again….

    38. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:38 pm  

      Meh i just realised this was link#2 on cif’s best of the web today

    39. Rumbold — on 11th September, 2007 at 11:41 pm  

      Kulvinder:

      If it was not for that Iraq war thingy you might have been number one.

      Douglas Clark:

      “Oh this is so irritating, bloody polygots. So, you think you’re clever do you, do you? Well you are, so there. Stop it.”

      We only need to speak one language: EN-GER-LISH.

    40. Leon — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:01 am  

      The British investigators working with the Portuguese ones aren’t enough? I was fooled. Here I was buying the tale that as soon the British got here the case would be solved. And what happens? The McCanns are made arguidos. Oh dear, no wonder Kate wants the FBI now.
      But then again, why not send the private investigators? Send all you got. Maybe they can assist the British police too in finding out who killed Rhy Jones. Should be easy, there’s a body and a bullet, a lot more than the Madeleine investigation has. Money solves everything, right? It still didn’t help Madeleine though.

      Well done, few times have I seen a point so skillfully missed.

    41. Lilia — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:08 am  

      Boyo,

      Now that you use the internet to post comments ridden with historical mistakes, I would advise you to use it as well to get yourself better informed about Portuguese history (since I would not actually expect you to read book)…

      Portuguese police incompetent. May well be. At least they don’t go around shooting Brazilians by mistake, and they are now almost 10% of the population…

      If the parents are or not guilty? I don’t know. If they are, we will never know because after they themselves created - this alliance with the media, especially with Sky news and a fund which probably now will be used to pay for legal advise - they will not confess.

    42. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:25 am  

      Kulvy,

      And well deserved too! It was quite a brilliant piece. Just keep some of the rest of your thoughts away from the good people on CiF :-)

      By the way, I’m banned off CiF. As of today. You’re their hero and I’m their villain, who’d have thought it?

    43. Sunny — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:28 am  

      Clara!! Is this the same one I know of? Great comment anyway.

      Douglas - you got banned? Wtf? I doubt it mate. Maybe they banned a series of IP addresses and you got caught?

    44. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2007 at 1:00 am  

      Sunny,

      Maybe..but maybe not. A certain Ms Bunting had a post up:

      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/madeleine_bunting/2007/09/the_smallest_signs_of_retreat.html

      which contained, shall we say terminological inexactitudes. These were challenged, in the thread, by others including Richard Dawkins, whom she’d been having a go at.

      A certain Francis Sedgemore, a fellow contributor I believe, had put up a post:

      http://skysong.eu/2007/09/fur-madeleine-bunting-eine-meditation-uber-religion/

      which Georgina Henry, who I think usually does a good job, rejected.

      I cannot see anything wrong with it. I asked Georgina for an explanation of it being rejected. My post was deleted by the ‘moderators’ ( read censors ).

      I wrote to Georgina, admittedly in an aggressive style:

      “Georgina,

      I a mightily cheesed off that you cannot answer a question on a thread. Instead your accolytes delete the comment! This is not ‘Comment is Free’, this is the land of Winston Smith!

      Try replying, take deep breaths and explain yourself.”

      She hadn’t a clue what I was talking about:

      “I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      Georgina Henry
      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk”

      Personal phone number excluded deliberately.

      I replied:

      “Georgina,

      Briefly, you will find that Francis Sedgemore has not been silent on your refusal to publish his piece.

      Here, for instance:

      http://skysong.eu/2007/09/fur-madeleine-bunting-eine-meditation-uber-religion/

      Or here:

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=23674&p=396193#p396193

      You have to scroll down a bit, but the whole thread is interesting.

      I had contributed to Ms Buntings thread, merely to ask you, not her, why you had rejected Francis Sedgemores’ piece. Given that your ‘moderator’ felt unable to remove Richard Dawkins comments which were far more substantive.

      Oh, and given that I thought you encouraged questions about editorial policy.

      My post was edited out by your moderator. OK, it’s your site, but that does seem more like censorship than moderation to me. In effect my question never got to you.

      Which caused the Winston Smith remark. Sorry about that, it was a bit extreme.

      Georgina, I do realise how hard it is to run a site like this and I do largely believe you do your best to run it in an equitable manner. This just seemed a tad unfair.”

      I subsequently found I was banned when I tried to respond to someone I agree with.

      I am awaiting a reply from Georgina. Not from anyone else. If they have got the idea of web media this wrong, then I’ll retire.

      I will not stand down from a position of considering Madeleine Bunting to be very poor, and I will argue till the cows come home that Marina Hyde and Mary Riddell are amongst their best journalists. I would hate that to be seen as sexist. It is a judgement, and it is not, repeat not, sexism.

      I am quite irritated about this. No. I am quite irate that firstly they think Madeleine Bunting is a first class intellectual when she is clearly nothing of the sort, and that they would be so damn protective.

    45. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2007 at 1:17 am  

      Oh, and Sunny, I really, really don’t want you to ‘see what you can do’. For me, this is a test of whether CiF is worthwhile or not. At the moment the jury is out.

    46. Sophie — on 12th September, 2007 at 3:51 am  

      I am just finishing to read an article in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2167113,00.html) and I would like to say…that I did not read a line about how come 2 doctors gave sleeping pill…to a child of 4 years old!!!! Just this, it’s reprehensible and surely those 2 doctors should answer in front of the medical authorities for this lack of judgment. All this, at the end, to be able to go to a restaurant. And I am quite sure that they were doing this many times. They badly evaluated the quantity has to give to this poor little girl this last time.
      I agreed with you that this woman needed help and often in this kind of case…a child paid because she was unable to open herself to someone who can be helpful…Maybe she was afraid to appear weak. Maybe a part of a severe education but at the end we can not excuse a murder of a little child without defense. We can not.

    47. Sunny — on 12th September, 2007 at 4:53 am  

      Well, I’m not going to do anything for you to be honest, you put your self in the pickle, so to speak.

      GH is the executive comment editor, of the paper and website, I doubt she spends all her time looking at individual threads and posts about what people are saying. She gets blamed for everything for no reason.

      Secondly, I’m quite disappointed someone like Francis, who used to be the epitome of good natured intellectual discussion, has let himself dragged into the gutter by constantly calling other journalists / commentators silly names. But I expect that what happens when you hang around that dimwitted Will bloke. I expect she got annoyed at his hat:tip because Will is the kind to launch the most stupidest and expletive-filled attacks on anyone who doesn’t follow his narrow world-view.

      At the very least CIF writers should maintain some sort of civility otherwise it just degrades the whole level of conversation. Francis got rejected, well boo hoo. Half my articles on there are about criticising someone or the other, most recently Andrew Anthony, but they haven’t rejected me or even warned me.

    48. Sunny — on 12th September, 2007 at 5:16 am  

      And just to cement my point, on the Drinked Soaked blog, where Francis re-posted his article…
      http://drinksoakedtrotsforwar.com/2007/09/07/fur-madeleine-bunting-eine-meditation-uber-religion/

      Will says below it:
      That stupid beyond belief, piece of ignorant london based (again) media fucking whore twat, has to be called out for the stupid fucking piece of ignorant pathetic and let’s face it, swine-like attitude towards women,

      See the irony? GH is apparently a “whore” for having a “swine-like attitude towards women”.

      You couldn’t make this shit up. I’m not surprised so many journalists hate bloggers. He’s like Devil’s Kitchen. Another inbred who spends too much time in his pyjamas railing at the world and smug in his self-righteousness, ready to call others anti-semitic or sexist with ease. Sheesh.

    49. Puplechook — on 12th September, 2007 at 7:06 am  

      As a resident of Australia I have total sympathy with the McCann parents. I have seen this sort of lynch mob type mentality develop towards wholly innocent parties based on the flimsiest of evidence and media-fuelled prejudice a number of times here in recent years. The most recent example was Joanne Lees, the British backpacker who was subjected to a horrendous experience at the hands of a psychopathic drug-runner who kidnapped her and murdered her boyfriend. But before the culprit was captured and convicted a hate-filled smeared campaign erupted against Joanne suggesting that she was responsible for the murder. The British press led the way of course, with suggestions that her calm demeanor was inappropriate and indicated something to hide. Lots of red herrings were raised including the revelation that she had a short term affair with another backpacker months before and rumours of heated arguments with her boyfriend. Before you knew it there was a Salem witch trial type mentality at large with every second member of the public clamouring for her blood.

      The Lindy Chamberlain episode played out in the same way. After a trial by public and media, she ended up being convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her daughter based on forensics from a top UK lab - forensics that were subsequently totally discredited when her conviction was overturned.

      The suggestion that the McCann’s have murdered their daughter and concealed her body is as preposterous as the claims against Joanne Lees and Lindy Chamberlain. But the problem in these sort of situations the accused can do no right in the eyes of the media and public - if they show too much emotion they are accused of laying it on thick, if they try and stay calm like the McCann’s they are portrayed as cold-hearted and calculating.

      When the McCann’s are eventually cleared of any guilt don’t hold your breath for apologies from the media, members of the public (let alone the police) who are now pointing the finger of blame.

    50. Kulvinder — on 12th September, 2007 at 7:53 am  

      N.B.

      This article wasn’t meant to discuss the investigation itself or what evidence was gathered. Although i’m not going to interfere with anyone that wants to do that neither will i participate; to me its besides the point. The media reaction is what i wrote about.

      I’d er also appreciate tangential problems discussed elsewhere; that goes for #45 and #48.

    51. Tim Mason — on 12th September, 2007 at 8:25 am  

      Kulvinder, this was well said, and Clara’s response was very good indeed. It might be added that if the Portuguese police are now barking up the wrong tree, it may be in large part due to the media circus. Trying to do a good job under the spotlight of the British press-pack, eager to criticise, and always muddying the waters with what are, in the end, nothing but idle speculation, may well have driven them to a point of exasperation where they will clutch at any straw, particularly if that straw allows them to turn the tables on those who have been taunting them. It has often occurred to me that many of the egregious errors made by the British police are in part due to their having to deal with the yellow press.

    52. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2007 at 8:27 am  

      Sunny,

      Got myself in a pickle :-)

      You asked me what happened, and I’ve told you. As far as I’m concerned, all I did was ask a question. Which I still consider legitimate.

      Kulvinder @ 51 is quite right, but just to wrap this up I do not agree with any of the sentiments expressed by Will, whoever he is, that you quote @ 49. I really do think Georgina does a difficult job rather well. I consider myself banned by association.

    53. Boyo — on 12th September, 2007 at 8:42 am  

      “You have a history of superiority complex. We don’t.”

      Well that will certainly come as a surprise to citizens of your former African colonies where the Portugese even made the Belgians appear enlightened in comparison. Or perhaps my undestanding of your colonial history is as flawed as that of your glorious revolution.

    54. douglas clark — on 12th September, 2007 at 8:49 am  

      “Well that will certainly come as a surprise to citizens of your former African colonies where the Portugese even made the Belgians appear enlightened in comparison.”

      Really? Could you give some examples that compare with the Congo?

    55. bananabrain — on 12th September, 2007 at 9:36 am  

      for once, i think kulvinder is spot on the money.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    56. j0nz — on 12th September, 2007 at 10:10 am  

      You couldn’t make this shit up. I’m not surprised so many journalists hate bloggers. He’s like Devil’s Kitchen. Another inbred who spends too much time in his pyjamas railing at the world and smug in his self-righteousness, ready to call others anti-semitic or sexist with ease. Sheesh.

      Will at DSTF really is an insufferable pr*ck though!

    57. Sid — on 12th September, 2007 at 10:18 am  

      No argument there.

    58. Ravi Naik — on 12th September, 2007 at 10:20 am  

      “Well that will certainly come as a surprise to citizens of your former African colonies where the Portugese even made the Belgians appear enlightened in comparison. Or perhaps my undestanding of your colonial history is as flawed as that of your glorious revolution.”

      Are you suggesting that English/Spanish/Dutch colonisation was remotely enlightened? You are obviously incredibly naive, or acting in bad faith. I believe colonisation by all European powers - without exception - had a damaging effect on the colonised, but this is not the topic of this thread and you are just “straw-manning”.

    59. Rumbold — on 12th September, 2007 at 11:08 am  

      Portuguese Goa was noted for being the only place in South Asia to have the Inquisition.

    60. Matthew — on 12th September, 2007 at 11:21 am  

      I have set up a poll to ask whether the McCanns should be allowed access to the fund if they are charged. Click here to vote http://www.votivation.com/poll_madeleine-fund-money

    61. El Professor Plum — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:04 pm  

      Ravi, moltes gracies per vostra comentari. Tambe es veritat (Catalan).

      Moreover Doooogie Fresh, IF they are found guilty there will be huge question marks over the safety of their conviction unless they can find the body and establish how it was hidden for so long. Otherwise, it would seem like the hair — leaked to the papers, presumably by the Portuguese police or UK forensics — was planted.
      Ya get me?

    62. El Professor Plum — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:05 pm  

      Matthew, of course they shouldn’t have access to the funds — FDS!

    63. El Professor Plum — on 12th September, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

      Actually Ravi, I didn’t read your response properly, I don’t think Portuguese plod have any excuses — none at all.

    64. Ravi Naik — on 12th September, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

      “Moreover Doooogie Fresh, IF they are found guilty there will be huge question marks over the safety of their conviction unless they can find the body and establish how it was hidden for so long. Otherwise, it would seem like the hair — leaked to the papers, presumably by the Portuguese police or UK forensics — was planted. Ya get me?”

      I believe you are right about finding the body, but explaining how they could hide the body for so long is perhaps less troublesome, considering the parents and friends are doctors, and would know what to do to preserve it. You talk about the possibility of planting evidence… but it can’t be the police as the McCanns were suggesting, as for that they would need to find the body.

      Anyway, what I find really troublesome and which you mention, is the leaks that keep coming out, presumably by the police. I find that contemptible.

    65. El Professor Plum — on 12th September, 2007 at 1:49 pm  

      I hate this story, but unlike super-dispassionate and unpopulist Sunny I do care

    66. Ravi Naik — on 12th September, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

      “I don’t think Portuguese plod have any excuses — none at all.”

      I think you are being unfair. It has been reported that the police have been following 2500 leads since the investigation began, which turned to be false. A lot of resources have been put into this investigation, but you need to consider that Portugal is a small country, and doesn’t have the resources or the expertise that Britain has in dealing with such cases. The fact that they have asked England for help shows the commitment to solve this case as soon as possible.

      I think it is somewhat disingenuous to talk about a timetable for solving a crime without actually knowing all the details of the investigation, and based solely on tabloid opinion makers and the power of hindsight.

    67. El Cid — on 12th September, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

      Maybe my expectations of Portugal are higher than yours.

    68. sonia — on 12th September, 2007 at 6:22 pm  

      yep the question about the fund money is probably more relevant to us non-investigators. *if people gave the money to help madeleine’s family - i don’t see why not. if people gave the money to help madeleine, and not her killers, then they might not want to take the risk, in case her parents turn out to be the killers, they might not be too pleased they had paid for their defence.

      could be a good trick that though - for future references. !

      *( of course we can theorise as to where the body is or isn’t - but theorising is what it is. for example, i would say if they were the ones wot did it, the focus on portugal might well be the red herring, i.e. do we know that madeleine ever went to portugal? she may well be buried in their back yard. who knows? depends if we have good reason to believe what we are told - madeleine disappeared on day x in location y. anyway)

    69. sonia — on 12th September, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

      it makes me laugh to see how nationalist so many people are.

      any reader of agatha christie and other detective genres surely knows that police are clueless across the world. and what can you expect - given how dodgy we are, its surprising they’ve caught the no. of criminals they have. its so easy for us to say well i would have found out if i were them. there are so many unsolved cases. of course this is partly the government’s fault for making crime seem like something that can be ‘controlled’ and ‘solved’.

    70. Clara — on 12th September, 2007 at 6:35 pm  

      El Cid,
      Portugal doesn’t depend on foreign forensics. The tests made in the UK could have been made here, although I am sure the British have better technology. It only makes sense that they were sent there. Also note that in the event of the tests not producing a match the British still can compare the NDA to those in their database.
      And even if we did depend on foreign forensics, what is wrong with that? What’s so wrong with police forces helping one another and sharing their resources? Actually I’m glad they’re working together – sometimes different experiences and methods produce better results when combined - as I am glad Portuguese police is helping Spanish police fighting ETA terrorism.

      I understand Castilian indeed, both spoken and written. I could have written this in Portuguese but Douglas might start translating :)

      Tim
      It would be nice to believe that the media get more rational in their coverage but so far no hopes that it would become wiser have been fulfilled. I see this clearly in Portugal too where the pressures put on the police in this case are a major concern. I still believe they do want to find the truth though.

      El Professor
      Wouldn’t it be easier for the police (and cheaper) to frame Murat? He was media’s favorite suspect, Russian friends and a fake eye… he is half Portuguese, half British. It would please everyone and, most important, nobody would say the evidence was planted. Why would Portuguese police complicate things and frame the McCanns instead?

      Ravi
      “I think it is somewhat disingenuous to talk about a timetable for solving a crime without actually knowing all the details of the investigation, and based solely on tabloid opinion makers and the power of hindsight.”
      Well said Ravi ;)

      Clara

    71. Leon — on 12th September, 2007 at 7:14 pm  

      Apparently John Redwood MP said something similar to me about why they chose to hire a spin doctor than a private investigator and drew some heat for it (read it in the metro on way home tonight)…

    72. sonia — on 12th September, 2007 at 8:53 pm  

      i suppose the McCanns can start up a fund to raise money to help their defence - after all, if its up front, and people contribute - which they will, cos clearly so many people empathasize and think shit! that could be me! and that would be perfectly above board wouldn’t it.

    73. El Cid — on 12th September, 2007 at 9:01 pm  

      Clara,
      Who else might have a framing interest? I’m not assuming anything on that front.
      DNA matching can also be flawed.
      I’m just saying, a guilty judgement will look unsound unless it is backed up by further evidence to explain the time that had passed since the murder, I mean disappearance, and care hire.
      Anyway, enough already.
      There are plenty other horrific crimes out there that need solving.

      P.S. Spanish (Portuguese) commentators often talk about the British tabloid press in a holier than thou way that is just bullsheeeeet and irritating (not you Clara).
      P.P.S. And in the same way xenophobic bigots tend to judge other countries differently, there is a tendency from some on the left to assume the worst of their own kind while making allowances for others.

      Leon, I didn’t know you and Redwood were that close.

    74. sahil — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:30 am  

      Kulvinder great article, I read it a while ago, but just have not had the time to compliment the piece.

      El Cid: Ask youself this question (a bit like Rawl’s hypothesis) If you had access to £1m but could use it to find your missing daughter or use it to hire Pichochet’s lwayer, what would you do?

      Lastly (given this rather brief post) this case has explained to me more about English and British Class warfare then I ever thought existed. I really cannot believe how the media have behaved, this is a massive PR exercise, to ram home the point look at this:

      http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/

    75. Jacqui — on 13th September, 2007 at 9:44 pm  

      Interesting post Kulvinder. There’s more on the subject of the press and PR on the case here http://www.markborkowski.com/?cat=3 which may be of interest. personally ive given up followign the news as it makes me quite sick at the circus its become.

    76. El Cid — on 13th September, 2007 at 9:48 pm  

      Sahil, are you really addressing that to me?
      Don’t get it.
      Don’t see the analogy with the veil of ignorance either.
      You’ll have to explain.
      Alternatively, you could let this discussion fizzle out.

    77. sahil — on 13th September, 2007 at 11:43 pm  

      El Cid, what I meant was this question: if the McCanns truly belived that their daughter was missing, would it not be better now, since the police have cut back on seaching, to use the ‘fighting fund’ more than ever to hire PIs and bounty hunters more than ever before, rather than lawyers? What are their priorities??

    78. Leon — on 16th September, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gv080vNZ5A

      Leon, I didn’t know you and Redwood were that close.

      That or he reads PP and decided to skank me with no credit.

    79. sonia — on 16th September, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

      i find it strange that their publicists seem to think we need ‘reminding’ of this case - it is all most people are talking about! don’t need to spend any more money on madeleine publicity - everyone knows.

    80. Cate — on 21st September, 2007 at 2:00 am  

      “would it not be better now, since the police have cut back on seaching, to use the ‘fighting fund’ more than ever to hire PIs and bounty hunters more than ever before, rather than lawyers?”

      Sahill, as I understand it, it is not legal in Portugal to involve unofficial (ie non-police) individuals or organisations in ongoing criminal enquiries. “Inspector Olegário Sousa, of the Polícia Judiciária, said: “The investigation in Portugal only can be done by police forces.” ” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2324229.ece

      This point was made in relation to some unscrupulous ‘let’s find Maddie’ fakery by Dutch PI ‘clairvoyants’, but presumably the point that, “Portuguese detectives have contacted officers in the Netherlands complaining that the company has broken laws that mean that only police can investigate criminal cases “, would apply to PI’s who work without any assistance from ectoplasm or the ether too.

      So why don’t the McCann’s simply ignore this law, if it would help get Madeleine back?

      Well, there seems to be a subtext throughout this case, which (whatever the resolution) will, I presume, eventually become the subject of overt coment, as the family either a)finally lose patience with the handling of it, or b) lob any old dollop of mud at the Portuguese authorities in an attempt to resist extradition/ defend themselves at trial. Namely, that from the first the parents have scrupulously attempted to ‘co-operate’ with the police investigation, even when it has not gone in directions they might like. Their criticism (or even comment) of the investigation has been muted, and they have abided - to a degree I find remarkable - by the Portuguese policy of embargo on release of evidence, even when this has led to the gulf being filled with speculation and innuendo, that has laid them open to personal and venomous attack.

      If they are innocent this is presumably because they feel that trying to keep the authorities on board (and avoiding at all costs alienating the people in the best position to accomplish that), is their best hope of recovering their daughter; if they are guilty of involvement in her disappearance, because they have hoped the appearance of co-operation would divert attention away from themselves. Either way, though this restraint is now beginning to fray, they have still not sought to come forward and lay before the media the definitive account of their version of events that night or since. (Did Gerry really tell his sister that the window showed evidence of having been forced? What did Kate actually shout when she found her daughter missing? etc) Instead we still have dribs and drabs of supposed quotes from friends and family members and apparent leaks from the Portuguese police, all media filtered, that combine to make the family and/or their friends look inconsistent and vague at best, at worst downright deceitful.

      Now they are home, I doubt the Portuguese legal framework carries any force in regard to their actions in this country, despite their arguido status, if they wish to speak out on these matters. The fact they choose not to (about the tetchiest it has got is Kate McCann’s mild rebuke that during her prolonged interrogation she was devastated to realise the police were really no longer actively looking for Madeleine), suggests their legal representatives are still encouraging them to ‘play the game’ with the Portuguese system, and not be seen as in any way hostile to the people officially charged with finding their daughter.

      Presumably that would include not hiring PI’s, who would not only get no co-operation from the police, but may well constitute an illegal investigation if they began poking around.

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