Monday, September 10, 2007

today's phrase is "Feral Beast"... ascribed to the press by Tony Blair.

Whatever has happened to poor Madeleine Mcann, there was an inevitability about her parents being placed under the microscope of suspicion by the press. I was quite surprised that this hasn't happened much earlier. After all, it is statistically acceptable to start investigating the people closest to the crime. If they are the innocent victims of a kidnapper I have boundless sympathy for them. What else could they do but try and keep the search for their lost child alive?

I guess people in the media self-censored and didn't raise any questions about the McCanns' account for a long time. But this was always going to last for only so long. The more time Madeleine remained missing, the less the press had to write about - and a press with no new facts on a story will do one of two things. Either they will drop the story, or they will start searching for (and sometimes inventing) their own new facts. The beast needs to be fed, even if the food is as insubstantial as marshmallow or candy floss.

The moment the McCanns allowed themselves to be filmed lighting candles in the church they were set up for a fall. Perhaps they don't care. Perhaps they are prepared to take the innuendo and potential lifelong stigma for the sake of their daughter. I think I would be. But the press knew that this was potentially not just another sad tale of a missing child, but a truly sensational story (and that however it turns out, they have their story anyway). If the nation has been systematically deceived for four months then the whole thing will simply explode. The press will have a field day. I bet they are preparing for just such an eventuality even as we speak. The beast not only has to be fed, but needs to stock up the larder for lean times ahead.

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