Or 'Maddie' as the empathetic press have dubbed her.
I was moved to make some form of comment on this now international news story after watching BBC News 24 try badly to get a rise from a Portuguese spokeswoman about the competence of the Portuguese police and, because I have a lot of time for the BBC, it made me angry.
BBC's line of questioning went in the direction of asking this spokeswoman how the Portuguese were reacting to the British press' accusations of substandard police work and poor organisation and so on. The Portuguese spokeswoman started out by saying how shocked and concerned the country is with news, and then, quite rightly, said how surprised they've been that the fantastic institution that is this country's press has decided to focus on the work of the police and criticise that.
This is, of course, typical of British journalism. Not content with having a three year old Briton girl missing in a foreign country - and, according to latest police theories, kidnapped for a paedophilia ring - our national papers decide to attack the work of the Portuguese police, in a move that will surely inspire confidence in the family, and will raise up in their readers the usual British nationalism stuff. You can almost feel the tabloids, itching to say 'Well, if she'd gone missing in our country, she'd have been found by now'.
But that's not even the point. The BBC, usually able to detach itself from such a mess, instead goes and gets in even deeper, by focusing on those papers being critical of the police, as if THAT is the story!! I mean, come on BBC! It's the British tabloids! What do you expect of them? They're not going to report on the missing girl story objectively when it presents such a clear opportunity to invoke emotions in their readership that they don't really feel.
The Portuguese spokeswoman also managed a dig of her own against the British press, and had clearly been doing her research. There are, she said, 20 missing children in the UK under a certain age - I forget which - including several under 2 years old. Where are the front page stories about these children? What makes Madeline so different? Being blonde, photogenic and missing in a foreign country? What sort of criteria are they, except for making a better news story?
Cynical me again, of course. I'm just disappointed that in the 8 days this young girl has been missing, already the press have put scapegoats in place while they wait idly with nothing better to write, until the juicy finale in which she turns up dead or, miracuously is returned. Of course, everyone hopes for the latter...but we all know which outcome would run and run in the papers longest.