Friday, 17 June 2016

Measuring Mitchell

Image result for clarence mitchell speaking in rothley

For the first time in his career Clarence Mitchell is actually becoming useful – as a sort of graphic measure of the McCanns’ prospects. Remember loud and proud White Knight Clarence standing tall outside the Rothley house and, with the McCanns shivering behind him, telling the world’s media that he believed in the couple and their innocence?

How long is it since Clarence repeated such a believing performance? Yet in the last few years, which have seen the pair losing ground and credibility in Lisbon, irreplaceable bundlemen in London and supporters all over the world, the McCanns have badly needed such loud and unashamed support - but Mitchell’s “work”, insofar as it is visible at all, has been a travesty of successful PR. Now he faces his greatest challenge - the extraordinarily full-blooded and co-ordinated smear attack by the British MSM of all people, sensing blood at last.  

But he isn't facing it, is he? He's burrowing instead.  Most of the time he is missing; on the rare occasions when he is located he is badly briefed and hesitant, muttering into the phone a few tired clich├ęs  lacking any spark or conviction; his once highly successful and rigid modus operandi – little one-act plays in which the editors allowed him to comment on a story in three different ways through three different identities (pal, spokesman, source close to the investigation) thus implying a bogus multi-person examination and source for the feed – has vanished completely. Many of the contacts in his address book have retired, moved on or simply given up on him.
He has some excuses, the most important being the manifest worthlessness of his cause. The cupboard which the Bureau introduced half a decade ago – that cupboard for storing all the abduction evidence and all the subsequent  facts that have emerged to strengthen the parents’ version of events – remains  as empty as it was at the start. But if that void is gradually wearing away the effectiveness and nerves of the McCann supporters, for a PR man it is simply a catastrophe: reputation or brand management depends on constant injections of  favourable or at least neutral “facts” that can  then be spun into favourable product; those facts get your foot in the news media door – they are what the papers need before they can grant you the space to spin. And the cupboard produces zilch.

If he has yet recognized the threat that the current smear campaign by the UK press on the couple poses or presages he shows no sign of it. But then he shows hardly any  sign of anything, except the wish that it would all just go away. His passivity,  unmistakable loss of ideas and, worse, vitality, and his manifest impression of having given up,  are a metric for  the death of the abduction narrative by starvation and the obvious exhaustion of the parents themselves. What do they all seem to  be expressing in their different ways? Hopelessness about the future.