When the Malaysian Government examined the evidence before it and bowed to the inevitable, concluding that Flight MH370 had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean, and that there had been no survivors, some in the media acknowledged the outpouring of grief from relatives of those on board, and stuck to reporting on the continuing search for debris.
Meanwhile, at the cheaper end of the spectrum, the knowledge that all who had boarded the Boeing 777 almost three weeks ago were certainly dead, together with the thought that shock horror sells papers, meant that there was a scramble to invent the most outlandish stories about the plane’s last hours, safe in the knowledge that nobody would be hitting them with a lawsuit.
And the cheaper and nastier the paper, the more desperate the story, which brings us to the Daily Express, supposed flagship title of Richard “Dirty” Desmond’s media empire. “‘Deliberate act’ Jet passengers were 'knocked out at 45,000ft in pilot's suicide plunge' ... THE pilot of the doomed Malaysian jet may have sacrificed all 238 other people on board to commit suicide” screamed the headline.
We hear from “an expert” and “a source close to the investigation” (that means the hack who wrote this rubbish making his quotes up to suit). “It was flying at this altitude [45,000 feet] for 23 minutes before descending. Oxygen would have run out in 12 minutes, rendering passengers unconscious”. Only if the hull was depressurised. It’s just speculative guff.
Things were little better over at the Daily Mail, with “'It was his last joyride': MH370 pilot was upset over wife moving out and in 'no state of mind to be flying', reveals his long-time friend”. This was then accompanied with the same theory the Express had run. For good measure, the latter title has this morning also gone with the “joyride” angle. And the speculation is not confined to the tabloid titles.
The Maily Telegraph told “Malaysia Airlines: MH370's black box may have wiped out crucial moments of doomed flight”. How so? “The 'black box’ which records details of the flight may have over written key data”. Do go on: “the black box records cockpit communication on a two hour loop and deletes all but the final two hours”. Then it concedes “the flight data will have survived”.
Confused? Many readers will be at this point. What the Tel appears to miss is that there are two “black boxes”, the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). That’s not the kind of wild speculation that the Express and Mail have indulged in – just shoddy journalism, the result of not having anyone in the building who knows their subject.
But what the heck, they’re all dead and there’s papers to sell. Same old press.