I am forever being asked about why Journalists do NOT take a greater interest in the Madeleine McCann case; about why some Media ‘hotshot’ doesn't take up the mantle and pursue the whole case with a thorough tenacity in the hope of unearthing some concrete facts, or "expose the truth".
Or even reporting on those facts and areas where the truth that is known is different to the one being reported and perpetuated in the Media.
As much as I have always lambasted the British Media for their reticence when it comes to certain aspects of the McCann case, (and shall continue to do so), I feel that I should at least offer SOME defence to those many hard-working journalists without whose professionalism and dedication, much of the injustice that goes on in this world would remain hidden.
The answer is surprisingly, and bizarrely, simple.
Journalists do NOT, have not and never will, control what gets publicised, printed or broadcast.
That is, a newspaper editor will work to a certain criteria, invariably advised, or encouraged, by that journals proprietor, and will instruct his hacks to pursue certain stories and look for certain angles relating to that criteria.
Conversely, he may also buy in from a freelancer, if the story meets with that criteria or is along the lines of the story policies of the newspaper in question.
It is a universally accepted fact of life that most Media is very much driven by the celebrity culture, so stories and pictures of that nature will always take precedence over anything else.
I do not do very much work for newspapers, thankfully; (not least because I can't write copy very well; or indeed write at all, like MOST bloggers!); most of my work having been in the Television Documentary/Current Affairs genre.
However, I have been commissioned in the past, (along with the company for whom I predominantly work with), to produce investigations for a number of mainly Sunday publications, and occasionally we have also submitted investigations to the mainstream print media where we think them appropriate or suitable for the publication at hand.
In other words, those outlets that might BUY the story.
I well remember undertaking a long term, intricate, investigation relating to the once renowned owner of a Premier League football club, whose other business interests and projects abroad were questionable, to say the very least.
We unearthed some fascinating, relevant and pretty sensational material, well researched and well backed up, involving many potential victims, quite a few of whom were British, who stood to lose a lot of money.
The investigative article was copy written, signed off by the papers’ Lawyers, sealed and delivered, and was due for publication that particular Sunday.
Although we still received payment, the investigation never DID get fully published, (although some aspects of it were reproduced by Sports columnists).
The bottom line is that, no matter HOW amazing the story; how utterly incredible, mind-blowing or "news-worthy" it may be, like every other commodity in the world, it has to have a market.
And if editors and commissioners do not want to PAY for the material, (or are advised not to buy in or publish stories of a certain nature), then it never gets to see the light of day.
And even if the market exists, and a story is purchased/commissioned, its publication can very much be dependent on what other ‘newsworthy’ events take place. At the end of the day, there are only so many column inches to fill!
It would also take a very brave editor or commissioner to publicise anything that would derogate the McCanns at the moment. After all, they have all danced to Clarence Mitchell’s tune for some time now; some publications slavishly reproducing Clarence Mitchell's every utterance without even checking or corroborating his assertions with other sources, (as has been exemplified in the INDIAN "sighting" for instance).
As far as I’M concerned, it would make a very interesting story, examining how or why it was that Clarence Mitchell declared to the British media that they, (Team McCann), were liaising with the Indian authorities and awaiting DNA results from them relating to a GIRL who has been potentially identified as Madeleine McCann in India, before then discounting the whole episode after Kate and Gerry had apparently seen a photograph of the girl in question and had thus concluded that it WASN’T Madeleine after all; whilst at the same time the INDIAN authorities were completely refuting any claims that such an event occurred at all;- No liaising. No DNA tests. No sighting. No apprehension of individuals. No photograph. No girl!
(Of course, it would be an equally interesting story, to my mind, examining how exactly the McCanns could be so sure they could identify their daughter from a photograph taken 4 years after they had last seen her, but I digress).
But what would such a story prove, anyway? NOTHING; other than that Clarence Mitchell jumped on an, apparently, fabricated bandwagon in order to further the interests and exposure of his clients?
Additionally, to make such a story gel anyway, one would have to ask Clarence Mitchell a few rather probing questions. And anyone who has ever had to deal with Clarence knows that Clarence doesn’t DO questions. He only makes statements. And Press releases. Which, infuriatingly, are faithfully reproduced by the British Media, sans question, time and again.
But WHY oh WHY I hear you all ask!?
Well, partly because this isn’t a story, ostensibly, ABOUT a scheming, manipulative, astute, morally devoid PR mogul, or even a story about the vagaries or failings of Madeleines’ parents.
It’s about a little girl. A cute, sweet, helpless and totally innocent little girl who has been missing for several years now. It is impossible, not to feel a wave of sympathy, heartfelt empathy and pity, especially anyone who has ever been a parent.
And it is THOSE people to whom the Media pander to and cater for.
It is patently wrong, erroneously assumed, that the majority of people who know of Madeleine McCann, believe that her PARENTS were somehow complicit in her disappearance.
Online ‘Polls’ and opinion forums might suggest that most people believe there is more to the Madeleine McCann case than is covered in the newspapers, but that is a FALLACY.
It IS true that the majority of people who look beyond what the newspapers and TV report, beyond the drivel fed to them by Clarence, which gets duly regurgitated; and actually study the Portuguese Police documents which are available online, or read other intelligible writings on the case in the form of some forums, blogs and publications; THEN begin to formulate different opinions on the matter and start to consider that there may be more to the case than at first seems.
But, sadly, those people are still very much in the MINORITY.
Everyone knows the name Madeleine McCann, who she is and what purportedly happened to her. VERY FEW people know the names Jane Tanner, David Payne or Rachel Oldfield, much less what parts THEY had to play in the case or what their Police statements contained.
Because unless they are given reason to question the newspapers or televisions in front of them, they have neither the desire, need nor inclination to know.
Of course, there is also ANOTHER, very good reason why the British Media don’t wish to publish anything that remotely paints the McCanns in anything other than a perfect light.
Actually, it’s approximately a MILLION reasons.
For THAT is the sum, duly coughed up by Richard ‘Dirty’ Desmond, proprietor of the Express Newspapers, to Kate and Gerry McCann and their ‘Tapas’ friends for reproducing material that was originally published in the Portuguese Press, based on apparent leaks from the Policia Judiciaria.
THAT was deemed, (inexplicably, in many people's opinion), to have been LIBEL, although, bizarrely, the case never went to Court which, had it have done, it would have proved much less expensive for the Newspaper Group where the McCanns would have received only a fraction of what they subsequently did.
More importantly, the Newspapers’ Lawyers could have fallen back on the age old defence to Libel- that it can not be Defamation when the statements are true, or that the statements made were done so in good faith and belief that they were true; assertions that would have been validated to a certain degree with a cursory study of the Portuguese Police files.
The Express never actually accused the McCanns of anything. They merely reported that the PORTUGUESE were accusing them and actually lambasting the Portuguese in the process, rather than libelling the McCanns and their friends.
For some reason best known to themselves, the McCanns never saw fit to sue the Times, the Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent or The Observer, as well as all the Mirror, the Sun, The Daily Mail and other newspapers and Journals for publishing exactly the same material!
It would, for instance, be potentially far more remunerative and way more effective had they chosen to sue SKY News, for Martin Brunt’s famous declaration concerning the “100% DNA match to Madeleine McCann”, as apparently evaluated from samples removed from the McCann’s hire vehicle, where he clearly asserted that such results were indicative of their complicity in their daughters disappearance.
Some newspapers actually published infinitely more sensational material, much of which is STILL available to read online now.
I have previously written about how Richard Desmond acquired the Newspaper Group in the first place, after making a sizable Labour Party donation, shortly before being deemed by the self same Party to be a “fit and proper person”, in accordance with Newspaper ownership regulations and requirements!
I also wrote about how a cynical old bastard might start thinking that such a Charitable gesture as to donate a Million quid to Team McCann, from a man who made a sizeable chunk of his fortune engaged in Pornography and salacious gossip/celebrity magazines, could be indicative of him returning some kind of ‘favour’ to those in VERY high places who had perhaps furthered his Empire!
Alas, I shall just say that the fact that there are many, many stories STILL available to read in the online editions of virtually every print media publication is very telling; stories which go into great detail about subjects over which the McCanns have thus far spent a fortune in legal fees in trying to suppress!
Sometimes, when I complain to my colleague and close friend; a man whom I regard as one of the very finest Investigative Journalists of the past 20 years, about how clearly there is so much more to the McCann case than now gets published or mentioned, he nods approvingly and in full agreement. Alas he always says the same thing:-
That he is sure that there IS more to the case; that there is clearly a huge question mark and a certain amount of suspicion over some of the McCanns behaviour and actions, along with those of their friends; that the whole case IS worthy of a sustained, elaborate and highly intensive study and investigation.
No one wants to pay for that investigation, and as yet, no-one appears interested (or willing), to pay for the publication of its findings.
He always adds that if he were a millionaire philanthropist, he’d like nothing more than to dedicate his time and resources to fathoming its secrets.
Until then, he concludes, he has 2 kids to feed so he produces material for which he knows he will receive payment!
And that is the sentiment echoed by many journalists and producers. A sentiment I saw first hand whilst suffering the ignominy of working on a Flagship documentary program for a mainstream Television broadcaster, who, at the same TIME were also producing a most fawning, sycophantic homage ‘documentary’ to the McCanns.
Of course, a FAR more pertinent question would be, who is dictating the Editorial policy of the mainstream press and broadcasters?
I have come across murmurings of D-Notices, but I don’t personally believe them.
I’m pretty sure that there is nothing that has been suppressed, or whose publishing has been negated, on the strength of one of those mysterious decrees that emanate from Downing Street, once in a while.
That's NOT to say, however, that newspaper and Media coverage of the Madeleine McCann case isn't greatly influenced by certain Mandarins; slavish devotion to Clarence Mitchell and his Press Releases, bizarre 'news' gatherings and conferences rather suggesting that is IS.
I believe, quite simply, (for whatever reason), that at an Editorial level, it has been agreed that until anything of any real consequence, that can be substantiated, comes to light concerning any major discrepancy or deviation from the facts of the case as asserted by the McCanns; then they will desist from producing any accusatory stories and, at the same time, concentrate on pandering to the “flowers and balloons” brigade!
After all, those newspapers that published extracts from Kate’s book, ‘Madeleine’, saw their sales figures increase! (Although in the case of the EXPRESS, I’m pretty damned sure they didn’t make a return on their £750,000 investment for the serialisation rights! Ah well. Suck it up Desmond. Those favours must be nearly all paid back now!).
It may seem difficult to believe that Newspapers would adopt such a ‘group policy’ but rest assured that it can and DOES happen.
I well recall the occasion of a very famous and very popular ‘Nice Guy’, footballer who was engaged in an extra-marital affair that was well known about in the offices of every newspaper, and would have provided many, many pages of salubrious gossip, pics and speculation for days had they have published it.
The reason they didn't , is because this footballers SON was very sick with a condition that was thought at the time he might not recover from; and whilst such a heart wrenching fact would ordinarily give greater ‘human interest’ impact and impetus to the story, it was decided that publishing it would put a huge, unfair burden on the footballers WIFE, Mother to the child in question.
Even though years have since passed and the child actually survived and got better, the story has never been published.
Just one of many true stories that would have made the front pages of EVERY newspaper for a few of days, had not the Editors collectively elected NOT to publish.
Does that mean that Editors and proprietors have a heart? Not a bit of it! At least, not when it comes to a scoop! But in the instance of the errant footballer, there could have very well been a public backlash along with the huge wave of sympathy for the betrayed wife and Mother of a very sick child that just might have spectacularly backfired in the faces of the Newspaper publishing the story.
Which brings us back to the Madeleine McCann case.
As I write this, there are families in the UK who are planning on undertaking CAMPING trips around Europe in order to try and raise funds for the 'Madeleine fund'. There are children who are doing odd jobs and fundraising, along with contributing their own pocket money on a weekly basis.
Parents and Grandparents, sponsoring ballons, lighting candles, holding fetes, fairs and jumble sales to raise money for their chosen cause; helping to "find" Madeleine.
They subscribe to forums and websites that advocate and preach divine intervention, spiuritual worship and mystical pratices.
These are decent, respectful and caring individuals who are touched and moved by the story of a missing girl and her, (apparently), heartbroken parents.
These are people who have read Kate’s book, or who have come across any one of a number of ‘Tribute’ websites or Facebook pages, dedicated to “looking for Madeliene”.
These are people who have read the heart-wrenching words of the tabloid columnists, heard the impassioned pleas of the daytime TV presenters and Breakfast News anchors. They have absolutely NO reason to believe anything other than what they read or hear.
More relevantly, irrespective of whatever else is published relating to Madeleine McCann, they will purely and solely believe their chosen creed, buying into ONLY the scenarios they have adopted.
To illustrate this, a POLL, conducted in America in 2003 concluded that 70% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was complicit in the 9/11 attacks in New York.
SEVENTY PER-CENT!!! Actually believed that the now deposed and deceased former Iraq leader had direct involvement in the New York atrocities, according to a Poll conducted by the Washington Post!
How can that be??
Because President Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, along with OTHER members of that administration suggested such links existed in the Months leading up to the so called; ‘War on Terror’.
And those suggestions were duly replicated with alarming regularity in the American Press.
And those citizens elected to believe them.
And those citizens elected to believe them.
In fact, many took great PRIDE in believing them, and still DO, even though, of course, not only is there not a single shred of evidence to suggest that such links ever existed, but that the CIA has since confirmed that such links never DID exist.
Tony Blair, tasked with having to prepare the British to buy into the same war, chose a similar tactic.
Firstly, he presented a DOCUMENT, said to be an intelligence document detailing the Military capabilities of Saddam Hussein and the threats he posed to the West as well as countries in the Middle East.
Even when this document was shown to be a plagiarised academic Thesis from a Californian Historian, people STILL elected to believe its veracity and turned a blind eye when this 12 year old dissertation was used, verbatim, to justify the British Government involvement in the invasion of Iraq.
Along with the other, infamous, ‘dodgy document’ AKA ‘sexed up dossier’, which cited that Hussein not only has Weapons of mass destruction, but that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes.
Or, at least, that’s what the document stated once Blair/Campbell persuaded his old friend John Scarlett at the Joint Intelligence Committee to make some amendments. (For which Scarlett was subsequently rewarded with a Knighthood by Blair in 2007!!).
But I am digressing again!
The point I am trying to make, is that not only do people BELIEVE what they read, but they also either consciously or SUB- consciously elect to continue BELIEVING in something, even when contradictory evidence to what is being asserted exists.
It SHOULD, (citing the IRAQ War example again), have set off huge alarm bells in the consciousness and consciences of the British people, once it was made public that the so called ‘Military capabilities’ intelligence document fabricated.
Even MORE so when Hans Blix, the weapons inspector in Iraq, immediately prior to the invasion, was stating that there didn’t appear to be any weapons to be found.
No matter. Even though there was plenty of evidence, substantiated evidence, to suggest that the Iraq war was all based on a lie, people instead elected to either ignore or dismiss it choosing to believe the headlines of the Tabloids and the bulletins from Sky and the crass, Fox news.
Even, after it became glaringly obvious what the real purpose of the Iraq war was; when the first actions of the invading troops across the border from Kuwait was to secure the OIL pipes; when Oil production and sales from Iraq itself were co-ordinated and controlled by HALLIBURTONS, the American company once chaired by the man who STILL held substantial shares in them.
If you ever needed to present as proof, the stupidity, gullibility, disinterest, naivety or indifference to the TRUTH, as exhibited by Nations and their people, then HERE it is:-
That the Vice President of an invading Imperialist Country marches into Iraq, and, using the company that he once LED, (and which he still has links to), secures that Countries’ highly lucrative oil production, whilst telling the world with a straight face, that we were engaged in a WAR on TERROR!.
(Sentiments echoed by, of course, ‘Nu Labour’).
Impossible to believe that anyone could get away with that?
Well, it is very telling, is it not, that subsequent to these obvious truths and facts, both Bush AND Blair were voted back into power for a further term of office; the people very clearly either choosing to believe the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ fable, or caring little either way what the REAL truth was.
And if the vast majority of the people are willing to IGNORE, or remain indifferent to, the irrefutable evidence that proves that the loss of an estimated 1 to 1.5 MILLION human lives in Iraq was all built on a LIE...........
.......... then what chance justice for a 3 year old girl who disappeared under circumstances that were very clearly fabricated?
.......... then what chance justice for a 3 year old girl who disappeared under circumstances that were very clearly fabricated?
Godbless Madeleine McCann, wherever you may be............