McCann speculation spins out of control
The McCanns are never far from the headlines and just when we thought we'd witnessed every possible new twist in the confusing yet engaging story of the disappearance of Madeleine, we are offered a new take on what may have happened on that fateful evening six months ago.
What started out as reporting and then a story about the disappearance of a little girl, Madeleine, has now become the Kate and Gerry story. The media pendulum swings from support for the plight of these suffering parents to question about what actually happened.
In the last few days we have seen headlines suggesting that the McCanns were going to sue the Portugese police for £1m while others focused on the suggestion that two of the so-called 'Tapas 9' were going to change their story - allegedly the same two who happen to live in the south west English city where Robert Murat is supposed to have been in the weeks prior to Madeleine's disappearance.
So what on earth is going on!
Can the McCann's sue the police? - yes, arguably once they have had their 'arguido' (suspect) status removed. Why bother? The officers leading the investigation have already been 'sacked' or 'stepped down', with one of them implicated in the mistreatment of a suspect in a similar case. It would be wrong to generalise but it does not take an expert to conclude that in this particular case the handling of the investigation - at its early stages - gives cause for serious concern as to its efficiency, propriety and credibility.
With much of the media and the public not taking the police investigation seriously any more does suing them help?
No. It won't bring Madeleine back and rather than concentrate on their failings and culpibility for them, one should be concentrating on continuing the quest to find Madeleine or what happened to her.
The bottom line is someone must know something.
The dilemma is that the only people who know anything tangible in relation to the evening of Madeleine's disappearance are her parents and the 'Tapas 9'. So the suggestion that there may be discrepancies in their version of events does give the media, if not the investigation legitimate cause for inquiry.
What the McCanns are experiencing is the fact that if, as they have done, one engages the media at such a pervasive level with such a compelling story, in absence of new news or a solution to the mystery, the media attention will focus on those at the centre of and telling the story, Kate and Gerry.
No one likes an unsolved mystery, least not the media. With Madeleine as yet unfound, the Portugese police largely seen as not delivering any results, then focus will be on those left talking. To think that, church going, Pope visiting Kate and Gerry could have anything to do with their own daughter's disappearance is abhorrent and rationally absurd but in absence of any developments and given the drive for media exposure, the media can't be expected to back away from the story. The real issue in relation to media coverage is distinguishing between fact and fiction, making clear what is conjecture and what is substantiated and getting the tone and context right. But has the UK press done so? Have they overstepped the mark in terms of what's been reported (especially at a secondary level in relation to what has appeared in the Portugese press), or their intrusion into the McCann's life? Mediabeak will continue the analysis of this in the next of a series of postings looking at the media story, separating fact from fiction and asking where the boundaries lie.