I wonder - will any other criminals get themselves a real life Alistair, will the public pay for it? I wonder...
Which paper gets the prize for the most McScamming stories big surprise folks - The Daily Express - as Rosie would say - we just need to defend ourselves we are not being abusive...who is "we"?
Profile Alistair Campbell - Claris's role model and mentor (what a couple of lovelies - I wish I was bestest friends with them too :-)))))
Spin is not the answerBy hiring their very own Alastair Campbell, the McCanns have fuelled the doubts they seek to allay Mark LawsonFriday October 26, 2007The Guardian
The pattern was familiar from politics: following a major interview, public and pundits dissect the answers given and not given, while the official press spokesman for the interviewee takes to the airwaves to explain what the responses really meant.
The latest subjects of this strategy, however, were not politicians, but Kate and Gerry McCann. Listening to Clarence Mitchell answering on their behalf on numerous news outlets yesterday morning, it struck me that one of the most remarkable aspects of the Madeleine McCann case is that her parents are the first private citizens to have their very own Alastair Campbell.
And yet, listening to the phone-in callers piling in with still more sceptical derision after their Spanish television interview and Mitchell's glossary on it, I also felt that their decision to respond to family tragedy with political methods has been a terrible error. By using manoeuvrings designed for vote-grabbing, they increasingly risk the treatment that politicians receive: the belief that they are public property and that everyone has a right to an opinion on their character and veracity.
Admittedly, in one way the McCann case has gone far beyond the political model. The two most celebrated image-manipulators of modern politics - Alastair Campbell and James Carville - had a rule about the attention span of the media. They believed that there was a limited length of time - Clinton's man first put it at nine days, Blair's at 11 - for which the same story would stay on the front pages before other events provided a distraction.
The disappearance of a four-year-old on holiday, though, has shattered these calculations. The name of Madeleine McCann has now appeared on the front pages of the Daily and Sunday Express for getting on for 180 days now, with most other mainstream papers of all kinds coinciding for at least half of those. Judged by sheer unanimity of coverage across all titles, the last equivalent story was probably the second world war.
Some of this has happened because of a change in media priorities: a retreat from serious political events towards the kind of news that could plausibly be the storyline for a Hollywood film - the obsession with Princess Diana, who has occasionally been allowed to share an Express front page with Madeleine, began this bias in reporting.
But, above all else, this domination of the front pages has happened because the McCanns have encouraged it and their financial backers have funded it. The reason the nine-day/11-day rule has not applied is that Campbell and Carville were working on a model in which the subject of the journalism wants the coverage to stop, and therefore adopts tactics - of silence or diversion - which encourage reporters to look elsewhere. If the events in Portugal were to have a clear ending of any kind, Madeleine's parents would share the usual human desire to halt media interest but, for the moment, their desperate desire to keep the public looking for their daughter has led them to court publicity.
It was presumably for this reason that the McCanns became the first doctors to have a spin doctor. Previous civilians who have attracted public interest, usually through sex with a celebrity, have had Max Clifford speaking on their behalf, but his role is not usually spokesman but broker, placing their revelations in a single paper for a slice of cash. Clarence Mitchell, in contrast, briefs universally for free in the style established by the White House and followed by Downing Street.
It's easy to see how the McCanns fell into the trap of getting a press spokesman. Though firmly protesting their innocence of the insinuations by Portuguese press and police, those suggestions of guilt have caused them to believe that they need their own counter-voice.
The problem with this approach is that the traditional purpose of spin doctors is to convince people that a leader hasn't quite done what he probably did. The more often the press guy comes to the podium, the closer his boss's career is to being over.
Another difficulty is that Mitchell is usually commenting on events of which he has no firsthand knowledge, so his briefings tend to elide fact with assertion. And his habit of answering one question but then deflecting the next on the grounds that a response would break Portuguese judicial rules may be legally necessary but transmits a sense of slipperiness.
The biggest drawback, though, is that the McCanns have turned to spin and media manipulation at the precise moment these arts are most discredited in politics. What they say in an attempt to keep their child's face in people's minds has the effect of turning a daily spotlight on them. Anecdote and phone-ins suggest these appearances increase the resentment and suspicion they are aiming to defuse. Their tragedy is becoming a public relations disaster.
October 26, 2007 2:57 AM
The 'spin' has turned into to out and out propaganda. I started doubting the McCanns the day they hired highly powerful lawyers but when Clarence Mitchell was hired, they really made a huge mistake. His daily blatherings are tiresome, now even predictable. What parents of a missing child hire literally teams of people unrelated to search efforts? I really don't understand the love affair the UK has with the McCanns. Madeleines parents need to speak more about what they personally have done to find their daughter rather than printing posters, releasing balloons and selling Madeleine merchandise on their website. Something is very fishy with this whole Madeleine mystery and I hope, in the future, the McCanns back off with all the publicity stunts.