There is no newspaper more screamingly righteous than the Daily Mail. Whatever the issue, it is in the corner of the middle-class, socially conservative, churchgoing part of Middle England. And that extends to anything in the area of child exploitation and abuse, hence making up for their failure to say so much as a dickybird about Jimmy Savile by coming over all outraged and dumping on the hated BBC.
Who says my mate Martin's a f***ing perv, c***?!?
But, as I’ve already noted, there is also the case of Mail Online and its penchant for publishing photo spreads featuring under-age girls, usually using the excuse that they are “all grown up”, or have “grown up fast”. This had previously been used to publish photos of 13 year olds, but reached its nadir when Heidi Klum’s daughter was called a “leggy beauty” recently. She is eight years old.
Sadly, the Mail Online interest in the children of slebs does not stop at age eight, as a raft of features available right now testifies. Actor Jennifer Garner was snapped with her two children (aged seven and four) several times trying to do normal family things like going to the local farmer’s market. There were, though, at least two photographers present (one can be seen in the first published shot behind her).
Mail Online’s excuse for publishing no less than fifteen photos of Ms Garner and her daughters is that they were having chocolate brownies as a treat. And that wasn’t the only small child snapped at a farmer’s market: Ariel Winter and her niece Skylar were the subject of another seven pap pics. In this case both subjects were under age, as Ms Winter is just 15. Excuse this time? Snow cones.
No such excuse was available to Mail Online when publishing another raft of pap shots of Myleene Klass and daughter Hero, but what the heck, there’s hit-bait to generate. The narrative tries to justify itself by talking about who wore what shoes, and that the little girl took time to tell Ms Klass something (like “what’s that man doing hiding behind that wall with a large camera, Mummy?”).
But the biscuit is well and truly taken by a feature on Victoria Beckham and daughter Harper, arriving at New York JFK Airport. The toddler is described as “Runway Ready”, but having already got off the plane, the “runway” in question is that of the New York Fashion Week. Yes, Mail Online is talking about a 19 month old as if she is modelling (and just the eight photos this time).
As Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the Mail gave an undertaking after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales not to publish pap photos (the editor then, as now, was Paul Dacre). And all these stories appear on the same day as Metro, free sheet sister paper to the Mail, leads with “Voyeuristic paedophiles targeting children for purely online abuse”. Wonder where they got the idea?
As one Mail pundit is wont to put it, you couldn’t make it up.