Grâce à la liberté dans les communications, des groupes d’hommes de même nature pourront se réunir et fonder des communautés. Les nations seront dépassées.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Fragments posthumes XIII-883)

07 - AOÛ 25 - Edinburgh Festival

Gerry McCann au festival d'Edinburgh

GMC's verdict on his family media coverage
BBC News - 25.08.2007 
transcrit par Nigel Moore

Nick Higham : Gerry McCann, why did you want to come here, to a conference of television executives?
Gerald MC : I think the first thing to say, Nick, is that when I actually agreed to do it, errr... we hadn't predicted what was going to happen to, errr... the degree of coverage, and really the reason I'm here was primarily to... to tell people that Madeleine is still missing and we're still looking for her, and particularly to touch an international, errr... audience, errr... what I didn't expect was there to be such intense coverage of the news story for such a long time. (8)

NH : Why do you think that is?
GMC : I think, errr... that there is undoubtedly a huge desire for people to: One, want to find Madeleine, but to know what's happening, errm... but there clearly is a lot of pressure on people to write things just now, because they're in Portugal, when there's not actually very much happening. (9)

NH : Do you feel in some ways that you've unleashed a monster? In the very early stages you were desperate for publicity and you, errr.... courted publicity, very effectively. Now do you feel it's run away from you?
GMC : I... I think ... I think that's far too simplistic. There was a huge media presence in Praia da Luz on Day One before we really had done anything. All we did was to make a conscious decision to interact with the media and, errr... to raise awareness of Madeleine's disappearance and, errm... I never, ever expected and, errr... don't think it's necessarily beneficial to have constant coverage, errr... what we just want is - given the huge saturation particularly in the UK and also in Portugal - what we really just want to do... I mean we hope it never gets there, but if Madeleine is still missing we just want to remind people, from time to time, infrequently now, that she is still missing and we're still looking. (10)

NH : From the outside, it appears that you've been running, candidly, crudely, a very professional campaign with a lot of very experienced public relations professionals and so on; I mean clearly that is accidental but how did that come about? 
GMC : Well it... it's not at all, you know, we're just, errm... happen to be a fairly ordinary family, errr... some of whom were quite good at, errr... speaking on television. Of course, we had advice at the beginning, errr... from the PR people brought in by Mark Warner, Alex Woolfall, who gave us some excellent advice, you know, "What are your objectives and how's it going to help your search for Madeleine?", and then the... due to the massive media demand going on us, not the other way round, not us asking for media, errr... we were advised that, errm... we should have a... a family spokesperson and we asked the Foreign Office to provide that, errr... and they did support us and that was very, very important to protect us from the media and what has been incredibly difficult emotional circumstances. And then we... we of course did decide that we needed someone to help advise us, errr.... longer term for our campaign, and, errr... with Madeleine's Fund we decided to appoint a campaign manager, and I have to say, we appointed somebody to plan our strategy sort of medium and long term, if it was needed, but actually her job has been full-time handling the media. (11)

NH : Would you like the media then now to go away? What do you want to happen over the coming weeks and months apart obviously from getting Madeleine back?
GMC : I think the key thing is that, errm... what we would ask is that this... this story, Madeleine's disappearance and investigation, is reported responsibly, and only newsworthy material being reported.

NH : So you would like much less coverage?
GMC : Absolutely, because, you know, there has been huge amounts written with no substance.

NH : How stressful have you found it and has Kate found it?
GMC : Madeleine being missing has been incredibly stressful, errm... being under a media spotlight, errr... has added to that and at times, leading up to the 100 days that did reach fever pitch and we felt very much, errr... badgered and, errr... unfairly I suppose as well, errr... and probably something that we were prepared for in the first week or two, which didn't actually happen, to have, errr... as it approached the 100 days we... we weren't prepared for, but things have gone back to a degree of normality again and some calmness has, errr... settled in, largely as a result of the Portuguese police official spokesperson, and that's what I would ask people to look at, is what is being said officially: That we are not suspects, that there is no evidence that we are involved in Madeleine's disappearance, and, if there was, that the police would have to declare us as suspects. That's Portuguese law. And compare that to what's actually being written and covered. The two do not bear comparison.(12)

(8) Le journaliste demande pourquoi Gerald MC a voulu assister à une conférence de directeurs de chaînes TV et Gerald répond qu'il a accepté d'y assister.. Spontanément invité ou invité sur sollicitation, les démarches datent de début juin (là encore, Gerald semble avoir su lire dans le Grand Livre). La conférence des directeurs exécutifs de chaînes TV était-il le lieu adéquat pour faire savoir que Madeleine continuait disparue ?
(9) Le mal est que, lorsque rien n'arrive, il faut faire advenir quelque chose, la presse a horreur du vide.
(10) Gerald MC a-t-il joué les apprentis sorciers ? Autrement dit, son contrôle des médias est-il en train de vaciller ? Une fois de plus Gerald se défend d'être à l'origine du cirque médiatique. Et pourtant la presse à sensation britannique se serait-elle déplacée à Praia da Luz si, au lieu de persiennes et fenêtre forcées et d'une enfant enlevée de son lit, ils avaient su que des parents avaient laissé leurs petits enfants sans surveillance et sans fermer la porte pendant qu'ils dînaient au restaurant ?
(11) Ils n'ont fait que répondre à une demande massive et ils l'ont fait dans l'intérêt de Madeleine. Où on apprend qu'on (Alex Woolfall ?) leur a conseillé d'avoir un porte-parole pour se protéger des médias et qu'ils en ont demandé un au FO, qui a obtempéré immédiatement (Sheree Dodd est arrivée le 6 mai).
(12) Trêve de sous-entendus (ils se sont sentis harcelés, ils n'y étaient pas préparés),  le porte-parole de la police portugaise l'a dit, ils ne sont pas suspects,  rien n'indique qu'ils soient impliqués dans la disparition de Madeleine. Voir note (4).

Réactions médiatiques à la disparition de MMC
Kirsty Wark - Ariel (BBC magazine) - 21.08.2007

It has become the picture that nobody tears down, Madeleine McCann's angelic face on posters downloaded and printed by people all over the world and stuck up in supermarkets, train stations, on airport jetties and in cinema foyers.
The picture is emblazoned across Jonny Wilkinson's jersey, on Premier League team strips, and on Ewan MacGregor's bike. Madeleine McCann is everywhere, and nowhere.
I can't think of any other story, so prominent for so long, where there are so few facts.
TV reporters have done thousands of pieces to camera eeking out the few reliable details, newspapers have contained screeds about the McCanns whose faces are as well known as many celebrities.
The last time I typed their daughter's name on Google it offered up more than two million pages.

Sustaining interest
The McCann campaign has been unprecedented and we, the media, have been willing participants. If you were in the McCanns' position I am sure you too would do everything in your power, and seize every opportunity to keep the story on the screen, online and on 24 hour TV.
But how did they achieve such blanket - and on TV at least - such uncritical coverage when hundreds of children disappear every year?
Was it because the family and their close circle of friends knew how to create massive and sustained interest that had a fleet of satellite trucks racing to the Algarve, or was there something about this little girl's disappearance that triggered a kind of collective sensation akin to the death of Princess Diana, and an international conversation point on blogs and chatrooms? Or perhaps both?
There is also the fact that the McCanns are telegenic and articulate - and are doctors, and therefore regarded as respectable members of society.
The broadcasters did not keep their distance. The BBC helped to organise the original televised statement which was pooled to British and Portuguese television stations, probably in the absence of any input from the Portuguese police whose rules and operational methods are different from what we are used to.
And early on, on 10 May, the controller of News 24, Kevin Bakhurst, wrote in his blog:
"We will continue to try to provide the high volume of coverage and updates that the audience wants while respecting the family's privacy and needs and while striving to separate real developments from rumour."

Media 'events'
Since then there have been few real developments, so the McCanns in partnership with the media have staged a number of "events," the most famous being their meeting with the Pope.
There have been regular photo opportunities, high profile supporters and recently a series of interviews.
Even when the coverage has not gone their way I suspect that they will consider it of little importance in comparison with the importance of keeping Madeleine's face on the front page.
They are incredibly well plugged into the media, and have a campaign organiser, a media advisor who is the godparent of one of their children and a former lecturer in new media, and a roster of loyal friends who give their time, energy and expertise.
They all think laterally about how to produce a new angle on the story. In that way they remind me of the producers on Newsnight, and it's been that way from the beginning.

Direct action
The morning after Madeleine's disappearance I was on my way to London to the programme, and at home in Glasgow, a neighbour whom we'd never met rang the bell.
She was one of Kate McCann's closest friends and she was very upset. She told my husband that Madeleine had disappeared and Kate and Gerry were frantic because the police had been slow off the mark.
They were desperate to get the story out and could I help? In fact the disappearance soon began running on all the outlets.
That kind of direct action has been a hallmark of the campaign. Creating a publicity engine and keeping the momentum up has given the McCanns a positive focus, and was achieved by them and their family and friends through an enormous amount of self discipline.
Has this tragic story created a "blueprint" for families who find themselves in similar terrible situations, or was there something unique to the McCanns?
We in the media should ask ourselves whether we would react the same way again, and again because the sad truth is that it will happen sooner rather than later.

GMC répond à Kirsty Wark
All media - 25.08.2007
transcrit par Nigel Moore

Kirsty Wark : Okay, raise the lights now, and we'll take, errm... Gerry's agreed to take, errr.. some questions, which I think is important in this...
Q. : Do you dread the day that the media interest and the public interest does disappear?
Gerald MC : It... It's not dread, errm... I... errr... as I said, even in week three or four, and what happened, errm... in about the middle of June, after about five or six weeks, things were going really very, very quiet and I was actually, errm... quite glad of that and I thought we would start to get back to a sort of more normal existence and a... a quieter form of campaigning, errm... you know, using the internet, viral... raising, errm... broadening the issues, the political issues, which have been highlighted to us and I saw that as the long term focus and, as I have already alluded to, I don't think necessarily having newspaper headlines of the image of Madeleine, errr... being thrust to people every single day actually may help, so not particularly. What we dread is the worst news that, you know, Madeleine is not alive.

Campagne MMC en Écosse
STV News  - 25.08.2007 
transcrit par Nigel Moore

David Cowan  : Well, Gerry McCann has just arrived in Edinburgh for the International Television Festival. It's the first time he's been back in Scotland since Madeleine disappeared in May and he's here to talk about the publicity that has surrounded her disappearance and the campaign to try and find her.
Errm... Gerry, can I ask you first of all, at... at the start, the decision to go for publicity must have been a very conscious one on your and your wife's behalf.  
Gerald MC : It was but I think we were faced, errr... you know, on day one that, errr... there was 150 journalists outside the apartment, when we got back from the police station, so we had to make a very quick decision; either we didn't interact with them or we did, and, errr... there's two reasons: One, we thought it would help, errr... in the search for Madeleine, that was the key one, and the second thing is that, errr... to be honest, we thought it would be easier on us as well to interact and, errr... work with them rather than, errm... go away and hide. (1)

DC : Was it keeping you going as well - you were doing something?
GMC : After the first... I would say the first two weeks we... we did very little media; we did a few statements, errr... to try and get information into the inquiry or, errm... I wouldn't say pacify, but, errr... dampen down some of the criticism that was going on which I just didn't think was helpful to the situation, and our focus has always been on Madeleine and trying to find her and doing whatever we thought was best. 
Errr... There's no doubt that in the first few weeks, errr... in the first few days in particular we felt particularly helpless and then, by doing things which you had some control over, and influencing the search, made us feel better and what we... we've said many times is that in... at six months, we don't want to be looking back saying 'I wish we had done such and such', you know. We have done everything that we think will have an effect on the outcome, or potentially could have an effect. Of course, we know that all of this may have no effect whatsoever, but ultimately we don't know who's taken Madeleine, we don't know what the motive is, and we don't know where she is. (2)

DC : What effect is the publicity now having on you because it's changed, hasn't it? There's this constant drip, drip, drip of... of claims and reports and rumours from unnamed sources and... and the fingers been pointed at you and your wife again. I mean, how... how has all this been for you now?
GMC : I think even on day... day one and day two, errm... speculation didn't help us, I mean, as, errr... parents it didn't help us and I have to say that our immediate reaction, errr... we could only imagine the worst possible scenario, that someone had taken her, abused her and killed her, errr... but seeing that that wasn't the only scenario and there was no evidence of that being the case, it actually lifted us and... and gave us strength and hope, errr... but when the coverage continued and there was 24 hour news channels etc having to fill their time, there was a huge amount of speculation, most of which was ended in a very negative way, and we quickly realised that a lot of what was being said, errr... was either untrue or half true, and we switched off and, to be honest, we stopped reading the newspapers.  (3)
The current level of activity, you know, I think you're absolutely right, there is a huge amount of innuendo which is being presented in various ways, suggesting that there may be evidence or facts behind it and there are none, and our opinion of what happened that night has not changed. We know certain facts, unfortunately because of the criminal investigation, we can't divulge them, and I want to make it absolutely clear, the reasons why we're not divulging the information; we will not make it easier for the perpetrator to cover their tracks. The police have all the information and we have bared our soul to them, and we'll continue to assist them in any way possible, but, you know, we have to keep silent.
And, in fact, one of the slight positives in... in all of this is that there is so much rumour about what did and didn't happen, it's actually very difficult, if you're reading the newspapers, watching TV, to know what is true and what's not. (5)

DC : Will there be a time when you'll come home from Portugal? Have you thought about when that might happen?
GMC : I... we've always, errr... thought we would come home, that the difficulty we've got is emotionally coming home as a family of four, as a... and coming out as a family of five. Errm... What we need to do is to weigh up what is in the interests of the search for Madeleine, that's the first thing, and then our secondary consideration is our own, errr... wellbeing, and particularly the twins, and, errr... you know, we... we will look towards long term stability for them as well. Errm... We haven't made any definite decisions just now, but these are the factors that we're considering. (6)

DC : Will there be a time when you'll draw... withdraw altogether from the... if there isn't any news about your daughter, will... will you withdraw altogether from the public gaze?
GMC : Well, from our perspective, and this goes back to day one and day two, we could not avoid the publicity; we never asked for it, we never wished we were in this situation. What we've done is to try and use it, errm... in a positive way to affect the... the outcome. In terms of the campaign, you know, we said 60 or 70 days ago that we would be stepping back from it, and we have done very, very little, errr... offensive media in terms of us coming out to campaign for Madeleine; we want Madeleine's image to be the face of the campaign, errr... but the situation's changed now, it's about the news story; errr... what Kate and I do feel is that we will have some role in the future, errr... whether that's public or private, but we will continue to, errr... champion the cause of child welfare issues. (7)

DC : Okay, Gerry McCann, thanks very much.
GMC : Thanks, Dave.

(1) La réponse de Gerald MC dément ce qu'il y avait dans la question (la décision de publiciter l'affaire a dû exiger d'être très conscient de ce qui était en jeu). Comment auraient-ils pu réfléchir si, en arrivant à PDL, une telle horde médiatique se pressait à leur porte ? Ils avaient été mis en garde contre les médias, dans l'intérêt de leur fille qu'ils disaient et que la police croyait enlevée. Et ils font tout le contraire ! La seule partie de la réponse qui soit convaincante est l'aveu d'attrait pour l'idée qu'on allait parler d'eux au grand jour.
(2) Gerald MC ne répond pas immédiatement à la (bonne) question, comme si c'était lui qui menait l'entretien. Il faut d'abord courcircuiter la police en brandissant le bouclier "concentration sur Madeleine, la trouver, faire ce qu'ils trouvent le mieux". Il s'agit moins d'être efficaces que de s'éviter des regrets futurs. Ils savent ce qu'il faut faire pour obtenir un résultat et savent même que ce qu'ils font peut ne servir à rien, mais paradoxalement ne savent pas qui a pris Madeleine ni pourquoi ni où elle se trouve.
(3) C'est ce que sont censées faire les autruches quand ce qui se présente ne leur convient pas, elles plongent la tête dans le sable, cessent de voir et ont dans une certaine mesure résolu un problème.
(4) Saint-secret de l'instruction ! Gerald MC laisse entendre qu'ils détiennent personnellement certaines informations, mais qu'ils ne divulgueront pas pour ne pas aider le ravisseur à effacer ses traces. Entre la police et les MC tout a l'air de baigner dans l'huile. Pourtant, deux semaines et demie plus tôt rien n'allait plus : Hors de la salle (du DIC de Portimão), je priais, je suppliais. Je commençais à être dans une impasse. Mais si je pensais que la police en avait fini avec moi, je me trompais. Ils ne tardèrent pas à me rappeler dans la salle pour une troisième round, avec Gerry. Une fois de plus Gerry voulut savoir si l'affaire était devenue une enquête d'homicide. Ils (Luis Neves et Guilhermino Encarnação) lui répondirent indirectement : "vous pouvez probablement le deviner à travers notre manque de réponse". D'une façon légèrement menaçante, Luis demanda pourquoi je ne le regardais pas droit dans les yeux... ("Madeleine").
(5) Saisissant résumé de la situation : il y a tellement de rumeurs contradictoires qu'il est très difficile de démêler le vrai du faux. Est-ce une plaie, est-ce une aubaine ?
(6) Il est curieux que le retour au Royaume-Uni ne soit pas évoqué et qu'aucune décision définitive n'ait été prise, car lorsqu'ils partiront, deux semaines et demie plus tard, après être devenus témoins assistés, ils diront que leur intention datait d'avant les fameux interrogatoires des 6 et 7 septembre.
(7) Gerald MC semble irrité par la question, qui donne à entendre une certaine complaisance à être sous le feu des projecteurs. Il n'est plus question de choix entre répondre ou non aux sollicitations médiatique, il prétend qu'ils ne pouvaient éviter la publicité qui leur est tombée dessus sans qu'ils n'aient rien fait pour. Ils ont donc essayé d'en tirer le meilleur parti dans l'intérêt de Madeleine. Comme ils l'ont annoncé deux mois auparavant ils ont diminué leurs "offensives" médiatiques en matière de campagne. Maintenant, ce qu'ils veulent, c'est avoir un rôle dans l'avenir, public ou privé, ils veulent continuer à se battre pour la cause de la protection de l'enfance. 

Pendant qu'ils dormaient, l'ennemi vint et sema de l'ivraie... Qui est l'ennemi ?

Gerry McCann parle des médias
Sky News - 25.08.2007
transcrit par Nigel Moore

Gerald MC :  Clearly there has been, I think, errm... a line crossed in many quarters where, errr... there is wild speculation being reported, irresponsibly.

Chris Roberts : Well, I have to ask you this, I mean, I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of the media in Britain have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to your plight but that hasn't been the case in some sections of the Portuguese media, they're writing the most terrible things about you. Why?
GMC : That's a difficult question, errm... I think there are, errr... there is a lot of speculation, innuendo, there's clearly some absolute outright smears and, errm... it may be a backlash against, errr... Portugal, in terms of some of the criticism, which has really been unhelpful, I think, also, errm... in terms of the search for Madeleine and we always looked forward and felt that the criticism is not helpful, errr... and our... our focus is always on the search for Madeleine and what can still be done. Errm... I think, errm... culturally there is a lot of differences, errm... but I... I don't really understand, errr... some of it but, you know, these sort of sensationalist stories probably sell newspapers.  (13)

CR : I mean, Gerry, I was reading this piece in... in the Portuguese media earlier this week which was specifically suggesting that you and your wife had... had killed Madeleine with some kind of overdose of sleeping tablets. I mean, where does this stuff come from?
GMC : That's a very good question. What I would like to direct all of your viewers to are the official statements from the Portuguese police, which bear no resemblance to the wild speculation and, you know, the police yesterday made it very clear. First of all, we are not suspects; two, that there is no evidence to suggest that we are involved in Madeleine's disappearance and, if there was, they are obliged by Portuguese law to make us official suspects. So, you know, they just... they do not bear resemblance and Kate and I learned, very early on, only to listen to information that's coming through official channels.

(13) Rétrospectivement, eu égard à ce qui se passa le 8 août au DIC de Portimão (voir note 4), ce discours hâché évoquant des différences culturelles et le sensationalisme qui fait vendre les journaux est une tentative d'escamotage. Il est amusant que la propre PJ soit invoquée comme bouclier.