That the story of Madeleine McCann has taken on a life of its own is not news. The single thread story – child vanishes – has been spun. But the tabloids love to find a new angle. And they do it in the shape of David Baddiel, the comedian, who “lashes out at McCann trolls”. What he actually did was to see ‘Our Maddie’ trending on Twitter and tweet: “Most people don’t know what it’s like to lose a child and should shut the fuck up.” That’s considered polite discourse on Twitter. But a BBC comic exchanging barbs with fellow twitter users passes for news. And it allows the Star to fill half a page with no news of the missing child.
The Sun also has no news. “‘MADDIE ‘COULD BE ALIVE’,” says the headline. “Madeleine McCann investigator claims missing child could still be ALIVE and hidden in a lair.” Could. Claims. More facts? Can we handle more facts? “David Edgar is convinced Maddie was abducted by a child sex gang and could still be being held in Portugal, where she vanished 11 years ago.” Edgar pulls on his media suit and tell us: “She is most likely being held captive, possibly in an underground cellar or dungeon and could emerge at any time.”
Is that the “new hope” another Sun story hints to? “NEW MADDIE HOPE,” says the paper. “Madeleine McCann parents meeting with Scotland Yard detectives to discuss TWO ‘specific and active’ new leads.”.The Mirror echoes the news: “Fresh hope in Madeleine McCann search as police pursue two vital new leads.” Both scoops stem from a “Whitehall source” telling the Daily Mail: “Metropolitan Police officers had a sit-down meeting with Madeleine’s parents to tell them exactly where they were with their inquiries. They informed them they had two specific and active leads that still needed to be chased and that although the investigation was taking longer than they initially thought officers said they were confident and hopeful they could get a result.”
Why the source is unnamed is moot. Is it a secret? What are the leads? We’re not told.
The Sun senses a story. “But a number of people were furious at the comparisons, replying to the post with fury,” says the paper, possibly contains its furious fury. “One person commented: ‘Not a good tweet!!!'” No. A better tweet would be from someone famous or in a position of authority. Then it could be front-page news, and they could be publicly shamed and hounded from their job. Try harder, twitter.