...the Express and Mail have shown more balls and integrity with their coverage of today's Madeleine McCann story than the BBC.
That hurt to write that. I hate the Express: it's a juvenile, dirty, nasty toilet bowl of a rag that gives a free platform for racists, bigots, idiots and scum to promote their ignorant views. The Mail is similarly disgraceful, but with an added dose of pomposity and a woman-hating streak that rears its head in the Femail section. But when you look at how today's story has been covered, I can't help coming to the conclusion that the Express and Mail have written the story in the way they wanted. And the BBC? Well, I'm really not so sure.
Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night? What Maddie said to Kate McCann the day she vanished
Madeleine McCann was left sobbing for her mother the night before she vanished, it was revealed yesterday.
Kate and Gerry McCann left their daughter, then three, and twins Sean and Amelie, two, crying in their bedroom and did not respond to their tears.
ANGER OVER MADELEINE COMMENT LEAK
Madeleine McCann asked her mother just hours before her disappearance: "Why didn't you come when we were crying last night?", it has emerged.
The three-year-old's stark question was revealed amid leaked passages from police interviews given by Kate and Gerry McCann directly after their daughter's disappearance in Praia da Luz, Portugal last May.
Though their original headline can be see on today's front page. Ah look, the printers have ordered a fresh batch of the special bright red 'Madeleine' ink, which has made a welcome return to the front-page splash:
Where, then, has this 'ANGER OVER MADELEINE COMMENT LEAK' headline come from, when their original headline would seem to have encapsulated the story better? Who decided that it should be changed? Where did the pressure to do that come from? I think there's a clue to be found in the BBC's coverage of the story:
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have responded angrily to publication of leaked transcripts of interviews with Portuguese police last year.
The transcripts suggest that on the morning she disappeared she asked why her mother did not come when the children were crying the night before.
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the leak was a "deliberate smear".
The BBC's spin is the parents' anger. Why might that be? Is there a clue in the third paragraph as to why the BBC have decided to present the story this way around, rather than leading with the details of the leak? Somewhere along the line, the BBC has decided that the important bit of the story is not that Madeleine McCann's parents admitted she was crying the day she vanished because they had left her alone the night before, and then went to leave her alone again; but that the parents are unhappy that this story was leaked.
Well they might be unhappy about it; I daresay they are. But they're certainly not denying the content of it. And that really does shed new light on the events surrounding the little girl's disappearance, in my opinion.
Clarence Mitchell says the leak is a deliberate smear. How can he say that? Why do the BBC leave that unchallenged? How can it be a 'deliberate smear' to reveal something that someone actually said, and which they don't deny saying? That's not what a smear is at all, Clarence. He's a journalist; he knows that - the reporter who put together this piece should know that's not what a smear is either.
The BBC carry on with Mitchell, seeing as he (a former BBC journalist) is supposedly the arbiter of everything in the entire world:
Mr Mitchell said: "For a document covered by Portugal's judicial secrecy laws, to be leaked to the Spanish media on the very day they went to the European Parliament, is stretching all sense of belief to believe it's anything other than a deliberate smear."
He added: "This was the sort of relevant detail that Kate and Gerry put to the police immediately, and that's been in the files for 11 months and it emerges on the day they go to Europe.
"This was a blatant attempt to undermine their work in Europe."
An attempt by whom? What kind of smear? You can't smear someone by just revealing something that is factually correct about them, Clarence - that's not a smear in the slightest. Yes, the timing is suspicious; but journalists do, as you would actually know because you are one, like to time certain stories to make a maximum impact. It's not necessarily some big conspiracy; these documents may have been known about for some time.
The Express, meanwhile, has gone with the headline 'ANGER AT MADELEINE COMMENT LEAK' when, in fact, the only anger to be found about it comes in the very last paragraph - and guess what, it's Clarence saying it! So why, then, should they change the headline of a story to reflect what is a minor detail within it? Why should they do that?
Remember the other day, when a story about the McCanns went mysteriously missing all of a sudden and was replaced by a much more positive one about how great it was going to be that they were leading the way in Europe with their pioneering work? Do you think there's something else going on? Why are these changes coming about?
The Mail, meanwhile - and I'm crying a little as I write this - has stood the strongest. Of course the evidence in the leak is the most interesting part of the story; Kate 'n' Gerry's anger at it, while important to mention of course, surely shouldn't form the basis of the story, in terms of pure news values.
They also flag this up pretty early on:
It also emerged that Mr McCann said Cuddle Cat, his daughter's favourite toy, was "almost in the same place" as where he had last seen it.
The couple had previously said that it was found high on a ledge, at adult height, which is how they were so certain that Madeleine had been abducted.
That is genuinely fresh information about the story, which is certainly important to mention in the light of what the couple have previously stated with regards to the events of that night. And yes, Clarence has his say, as it's right and proper that he should, but he certainly doesn't dictate anything else.
So, the Express has buckled a bit, the BBC have just written a peculiarly slanted version of the story, while the Mail come out as defenders of journalistic freedom. That's rather an unhappy ending for me, isn't it? Ah, but there's always something that proves to me what a nasty bunch of bastards Mail readers can be, and it comes, as it frequently does, in the comments section (although there are other comments giving an alternative view):
Kate McCann is a strong and brave woman. She smiles despite knowing that her daughter is probably in the hands of paedophiles! She travels around the world for the safety of all children! Admirable!
- Marianne, Germany
What? Seriously, what?
I heard the McCanns say from Brussels, the "onus is on the authorities to publicise details of missing children" Should not the onus be on parents not to leave their precious children alone in a foreign country while they eat?
- Maureen, Southampton UK
You know, I think those parents are well aware of what they did that night.
Prevention is better than cure - so this pair really should be promoting not leaving your very small children alone to fend for themselves whilst you go off on a jolly with your mates.
- Daisymay, Northants
If they had not left their children alone in a foreign country, they would not be in this situation.
- Hyacinth, England
I almost laughed at that one. Yes, it was because they were in Bongobongoland that their kid got captured! You can't leave your kids alone around Johnny Foreigner!
"Kate McCann gave a rare smile." Rare smile! Haha. Where have you been for nearly a year?! Don't you remember the smiles from both Kate and Gerry when they were holding up the find Madeleine T-shirt, and then there are the pictures of them leaving the church on Mother's Day. Isn't Kate McCann too fragile to go back to Portugal?
- Clarissa, UK
I don't quite see the point. Should Kate McCann never smile again?
Well there we are. Begrudgingly, I must praise the Express and the Mail, and question what on earth the BBC thought it was up to. Leak or no leak, the new information about the Madeleine case is certainly something worth reporting, especially when you consider the coverage given to previous statements by the parents. Fine, if you never reported what the parents said at the time, then there's no need to report these statements; but if you did, then you must. It seems simple enough to me - whatever Clarence Mitchell might try and tell you.