8 May 2009

Times review - Cutting Edge: Madeleine Was Here

by Tim Teeman

There is a very macabre dance around Madeleine McCann, as we mark the second anniversary of her disappearance. There are no law enforcement agencies on the case. Instead, alongside Kate, Madeleine’s mother, two retired detectives are poring over recently released Portuguese police files. Last night’s Cutting Edge was called Madeleine Was Here and — to keep yesterday’s pre-transmission front pages furnished — revealed a suspect from deep within the files; a man who was, according to witnesses, watching the McCann’s Praia da Luz apartment.

Gerry returned to the apartment block and some reconstructions were filmed. Last week, the McCanns appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with a computer-generated image of how their daughter would appear now.

To keep the chances of finding her alive, the McCanns have to keep the story alive, and Cutting Edge observed the McCanns at home: a picture of determinedly amiable domestic life emerged. But the family is uncomfortably beached between a desire for privacy and a desire for as much publicity as possible to find Madeleine.

This presents a problem for them, and for documentary-makers and journalists. The dripfeed of information (like the new suspect) and access to the McCanns is controlled by the family and their press representative Clarence Mitchell. The journalism of the Cutting Edge documentary was thus skewed to whatever the McCann’s agenda was. It was hard to see what material Cutting Edge had uncovered itself: it seemed to just record whatever the McCanns wanted us to see.

Oprah quite reasonably asked them how their marriage had survived the last two awful years. The documentary, despite its access and illusion of family intimacy, didn’t dare ask such things. When I asked Mitchell and the documentary-maker the same question at a screening on Wednesday, I received a curt dismissal: that wasn’t the intention of Madeleine Was Here, apparently.

But that doesn’t mean my question, or indeed any question is invalid just because it doesn’t fit with the McCann/Mitchell agenda, especially when TV cameras have been invited into their home to show how jolly nice everything is under the circumstances.

Kate and Gerry McCann may well feel their privacy has been invaded, but then they want the media to do their bidding on their terms. It’s a mess — a very unhappy, tragic one. The McCanns need the media and the media needs the McCanns, but it’s a scrappy, compromising relationship for both sides. Let’s hope it yields the desired result.


in the Times Online


9 comments:

  1. I just watched a show called "Issues" on CNN, in which they talked about the new lead on the Madeleine case. They showed the comic sketch created by the McCanns. The host, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and her three guests then proceeded to trash the Portuguese police. They said that the PJ dropped the ball because they focused solely on the couple from the beginning, a lie. They said that the poor parents had to take money out of their own pockets to have the case file translated and to pay the detectives that discovered this new lead that the PJ had ignored. The host asked why they didn't sue the PJ. One of the guests said that that would be very difficult because of Portugal's civil laws. I very much doubt that this person knows anything about Portuguese law. I swear these people were all paid off. I'm sick of seeing Portugal being trashed for the sake of rehabilitating the name of these two scum bags. Someone should inform the PJ as to what is going on. They should try to sue this show.

    "The McCanns need the media and the media needs the McCanns, but it’s a scrappy, compromising relationship for both sides."

    Is anyone going to dispute with me that these people are not malignant narcissists?

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  2. I'm not surprised Guerra. Even today on the national news we could see the new McCann detectives giving an interview to the media channels, and I thought not again!

    For how long are these fake detectives going to be allowed to forge some more new sightings or some more new abductors?

    Are we going to see a repeat of the Barcelona based agency Metodo3's methods, harassing witness and even threatening those who do not follow the McCann Agenda?

    What the hell are the Justice Minister, the Internal Administration Minister and the Attorney General doing since it is forbidden for Private detectives to investigate in Portugal without a specific license emitted by the proper Portuguese authorities?

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  3. "But that doesn’t mean my question, or indeed any question is invalid just because it doesn’t fit with the McCann/Mitchell agenda". To me, this is a change of tone from the press, who clearly think they are being cheated. It is put politely, but the journalist has made his point. "Any question" leaves the door open to all sorts of doubts. The "McCann/Mitchell agenda" also says a lot.

    The same thing may happen later in the United States, where they will eventually see how fishy the whole story is. As Georges Moreas said in the French program, "c'est cousu de fil blanc", which means that the seams of the garment show, since they are sawn with white thread, while, we might add, the material is so dark, so black, so macabre.

    As to what is said about Portugal, it isn't new. You only have to listen to how some (only a few) English talk about other countries when they think they are among themselves. In the present case, the uncivilised manners were on the side of the careless baby sitting "methods", on the drinking, on the idiotic media show, which betray some misunderstanding about essential values by people who accuse others of the problems they attract not only on themselves, but also on their children.

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  4. Hurrah...a British journalist has finally noticed there is a McCann/Mitchell agenda! More please. I watched the Cutting Edge documentary...it was hardly cutting edge, it told us nothing. The 'reconstruction' was vague, it seemed to me to be an opportunity for Gerry, Jane Tanner and Matthew Oldfield to reiterate their stories. Interesting that it mentioned the Smith sighting but didn't mention that they saw the 'abductor' walking in the opposite direction to Jane Tanners 'sighting' or that Mr Smith was convinced it was Gerry he saw. There was much emphasis on showing what great parents they are, Gerry playing with the children as soon as he gets home from work...not what Kate had said before! Did anyone believe that show of perfectness?? To the people of Portugal, please do not think we all want to trash your wonderful country and people, I can speak from personal experience that your people are warm and friendly and love children, that showed in the way you put so much effort into searching for Madeleine and investigating her probable death. It is not the culture of the British to put the childen to bed and then dine out etc, the McCanns would love you to believe that it is normal for us to do that...IT IS NOT!

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  5. I agree with English Claire's comments. As a Scottish person I can assure you that it is not acceptable in our country to leave young children unattended while you go out to dinner. When my husband and myself are on holiday we always take our young daughter to dinner with us and would never dream of doing otherwise. I have also spoken to many other Scottish people and their views are identical to mine.

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  6. £100,000 to have Portugese files translated to English out of the Madeleine fund....

    Just so expert crime solver Kate can solve her own case

    These pair of clowns are fookin genius's

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  7. I am not surprised at the name calling of Snr Amaral and the Portuguese people by the UK Press. As a Scot I don't need to look very far for the same name calling of the Scottish people - Porridge gobblers is just one such comment and believe me there are many more. I laugh when I hear us being called Scotch (which is whisky) some don't know we are Scots - having said that I don't blame everyone in England for the views of a few just as the Portuguese should not blame all of the people in the UK for the views of a few.

    Let's hope the tide is turning in the press as far as the McCann case goes but I will not be holding my breath.

    At the end of the day all we want is a resolution as to what happened to Madeleine - whatever that may be.

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  8. A weird bunch of alchoholics go to Porugal to have a good time, abandon their kids because they can't be bothered to look after them, loose or kill one of them and they then blame the police and the country.
    If as they say Portugal is such a nasty place, why did they go there in the first place ?

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  9. I was so infuriated last night from seeing the Portuguese police being trashed, that when I came online to post what happened all I saw were the last few lines of this article. After actually reading this article in peace, I do feel a glimmer of hope. I wrote a long letter to Jane Valez Mitchell to inform her on what I know about the case. It might not change anything but at least I have done my part.

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