The penthouse office of The Daily Stunpress, high in the clouds, is full of cigarette smoke, because the Editor considers that he is far above the laws which govern ordinary people. Up here, no-one can touch him. From up here, he looks upon the world of ordinary folk with an arrogant disdain.
“Ok Bob, what have you got for me.”
“Sir, you asked me to project the best possible outcome of the Madeleine McCann case.”
“ Ah yes, Maddy, bless her. She’s been so good to us. Aren’t we about done now?”
“Actually, no sir. According to our projections, we have only just started. If the best possible scenario plays out, this would be bigger than Diana.”
“Really? … Okay, what is the best possible scenario?”
“It goes like this, sir. ‘THEY DUNNIT! McCanns convicted in Portuguese court, sent to prison for life, callous murder of Maddy, experts say body was almost certainly dumped at sea, weighed down with heavy stones, or incinerated in that pet crematorium … etc etc All that stuff we made up before, we can keep repeating it indefinitely.”
“That’s right Bob, it’s our sacred mantra: ‘Speculation, repeated enough times, becomes the truth.’”
“Yes, sir. ‘Speculation, repeated enough times, becomes the truth.’ This would run for a while, of course. We would have the sentencing … ‘ICE QUEEN KATE SHEDS NO TEAR … Kate McCann showed no emotion as she was sentenced … ' and so on.
Then we would get the readers involved again…
‘STUNPRESS READERS SAVE TWINS … Thousands of readers backed a campaign led by the Daily Stunpress to have the McCann twins formally taken away from relatives by Social Services and placed in permanent care, to protect them from the ordeal of prison visits to see their evil parents …’ ”
“I like that. It demonstrates our concern for the twins.”
“Then we would run for a while with the usual prison stuff … ‘KATE ATTACKED IN PRISON’ … that would almost certainly happen, especially if they read our paper … ‘GERRY PUT IN ISOLATION FOR OWN PROTECTION’ … we should be able to squeeze that for a while. During this time there would also be a spin-off story… ‘MADDY HOUSE REPOSSESSED’ … well, that’s bound to happen if no-one is paying the mortgage.”
“Good, honest stuff … our bread and butter.”
“Yes sir. But we calculate that we could run with the speculation indefinitely, on what they did with the body. Anytime we haven’t got a decent story, we could always wheel out a source to say something like, ‘MADDY: BODY WILL NEVER BE FOUND’. We have demonstrated already that this has almost unlimited potential. Each time we can remind readers of the hideous nature of the crime.”
“I like this. So that’ll be the end of it? We’ll run it down eventually?”
“Actually, no sir! We project the best possible scenario would continue as follows … After ten years … ‘MADDY FOUND ALIVE!’ “
“Oh my God! That is brilliant. That would be the best possible scenario. But why not five years?”
“Sir, we calculate that the maximum Net News Profit Value from this story would come if she is found after about ten years. The experiences she could talk about would be much more graphic and horrific.”
“You have a good point.”
“Then we would run with, ‘RELEASE McCANNS NOW! The Daily Stunpress is leading demands that the Portuguese government immediately releases the McCanns, who obviously are innocent ...’
After that happened, we would have, ‘McCANNS GRATEFUL TO STUNPRESS’ and that story would run along the lines of ‘Kate and Gerry McCann expressed their deep gratitude for the massive campaign, spearheaded by The Daily Stunpress, to secure their immediate release …’”
“So we would be responsible for getting them released as soon as possible. Excellent, Bob, this is excellent.”
“Thank you, sir. Then we would have ‘TEARS OF JOY’ as Kate and Gerry are reunited with Maddy. That would run for days, if not weeks. After that, we would get onto the really good stuff. ‘MADDY: MY HELL IN SAUDI HAREM’.”
“Oh my God, Bob, that would be fantastic! We’ve got the Muslim angle there too – they’re always up to no good. But I hope it’s not Saudi – our government wouldn’t let us say anything. Sudan would be good, because of that Darfur business, the bastards.”
‘You are right, sir. ‘MADDY: MY HELL IN SUDAN HAREM.’ That would be the best outcome. And if it was MI6 and the SAS who rescued Maddy … we haven’t even begun to work on those projections … Then we would run for weeks on child trafficking, white slavery and so on … undercover reporters going in there … it would be fantastic… At the same time, we would have Kate and Gerry’s story, for example, ‘KATE: MY PRISON HELL’ and ‘GERRY: I NEVER GAVE UP HOPE’.”
“Bob, I nearly have a tear in my eye, to think what a great story this could be. So, then we would finally wind it down.”
“No, sir. Don’t forget the twins, happily brought up by adoptive parents. Just imagine, ‘McCANNS: WE DEMAND OUR TWINS’. That would drag on for months, probably years.”
“Oh, God, this would be too good to be true …”
“And they lost the house, too, remember. So it would be, ‘McCANNS: OUR LONG FIGHT FOR JUSTICE’ and it would go on forever’.”
“Bob, this is all just amazing. So, to summarise, the VERY BEST thing that could happen is that the McCanns are found guilty, sent to prison, and then, ten years later, Maddy is found alive, which proves they were innocent after all.”
“Yes sir, that is our evaluation of the VERY BEST thing that could happen.”
“Well, let’s just hope it happens that way. Please God, let it be so. We’ve always been good to you....
Now what about the effect on house prices, Bob? How can we demonstrate this points to a massive house price crash?”
Just to be perfectly clear, for any of you who don't get the irony ... this is not a criticism of the McCanns, but of some of the awful press coverage of this case. I have the greatest sympathy for the McCanns, and do not want them to be subjected to any further vilification. There is not one shred of meaningful evidence that they had any involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine, and yet the way they have been treated by certain newspapers is outrageous and utterly despicable. This vile treatment is on top of their unbearable pain at the loss of their child. How can we – a civilised, educated, compassionate, advanced society – treat anyone this way? Those who have been involved in this should be ashamed.
One example: some newspapers made a big commotion about apparent DNA in the car being an 81% match to Madeleine. This number is meaningless. Percentage of what? How uneducated and arrogant some people are! Any chimpanzee would have at least a 95% DNA match to Madeleine or to any human being. 81% means nothing.