Tabloid-fuelled Twitter hate

The parents of missing child Madeleine McCann appeared at the Levenson inquiry into newspapers’ bad behaviour yesterday, and Twitter proved beyond doubt that it’s the original story, not the retraction, that many people remember. As the McCanns described some extraordinarily evil behaviour by newspapers and their hired help, all kinds of apparently respectable people posted all kinds of appalling allegations on Twitter. Where did they get such ideas? The Guardian’s Esther Addley knows:

Kate and Gerry McCann… do not appear to be afraid of the press. What, after all, is it going to do to them? Accuse them of killing their three-year-old daughter Madeleine and transporting her corpse in their hire car? They’ve done that already, many times over. Report that they were undergoing IVF to get a “new” child to “replace” Madeleine? Done that too.

Suggest they were taking part in orgies and swingers’ parties? That they had kept Madeleine’s body in their freezer after murdering her? That they had sold their daughter into slavery to pay off family debts? They’ve seen it all before. Each one of those allegations appeared in a British newspaper in the months after this ordinary couple from rural Leicestershire became the victims of the most terrible crime any parent can imagine, the kidnap of their child.

I’m no fan of media regulation, but you can’t read that and think “yes! Self-regulation and the Press Complaints Council really does work!”