Things are looking up today for the empire of Richard “Dirty” Desmond: one of his papers has not just an exclusive, and not just a world exclusive, but a “Royal World Exclusive”, as the Daily Star Sunday expands its diet of slebs to include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and readers are told “Wills: Baby No 2 On Way”. So just how reliable, and exclusive, is this, er, “news”?
Well, for starters, it’s not all that exclusive: in addition to the Star’s Desmond stablemate the Sunday Express, the Mail On Sunday has managed to include it on the front page, and even the Telegraph has shared the happy news with its readers. So much for the “Royal World Exclusive”. One would expect nothing less from Des’ papers, given their increasingly constrained budgets.
Then what about the story? “On day six of their tour, they braved drizzly conditions to greet well-wishers including Briton Cynthia Read, who was commissioned by the New Zealand government to make a merino wool shawl for George. The Duke thanked Mrs Read for the gift before telling her: ‘You might have to make another one soon!’” tells the Mail. And that is it.
The report then fact-checked itself: “Mrs Read, who emigrated from Newcastle-upon-Tyne eight years ago with her husband Ken, said: ‘The way William said it was like he was letting me in on a secret.’ Given her history of severe morning sickness – Kate spent three days in hospital while carrying George – it is likely the Duchess would be advised not to fly or undertake an arduous tour while in the early stages of a second pregnancy”. But she is flying and touring.
And then the subject of the “Royal World Exclusive” scotched the rumours: “No second baby yet! Duchess of Cambridge crushes pregnancy rumours sparked by William's joke during Royal tour as she rides on a jet boat and even takes part in wine tasting”. So what did the Star have to say about that?
Still using the link that includes “Royal baby bombshell” and “New addition to Royal family”, the headline was hurriedly changed to “Maybe NOT pregnant then? Kate silences baby rumours with glug of wine despite Wills' hints”. So it wasn’t the Star’s fault for publishing a shakily-founded rumour on a punt, it was Wills who was to blame for saying something that the other party misinterpreted.
And the Desmond hacks wasted no time in reminding readers that “Friends of Kate have reportedly said she would like three children”. So that’s another of those “sources” or “insiders” who allegedly say something that someone else reinterprets, only for the press to get hold of the wrong end of it and print what they want after all. There wasn’t a “Royal World Exclusive”, and it was done to sell a few more copies.
Given the zero cost of the exercise, that makes it another Benchmark Of Excellence!