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  #1  
Old 09-02-2008, 02:43 PM
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Smear campaign? And if so, by whom?

The Daily Mail seems to have written quite a few articles now on the subject of Kate Middleton not having a job, not having a good enough family (her parents and siblings apparently being disgraces to humanity if you believe some of these reports), being so lazy that the Queen has intervened to suggest she get off her backside and do charity work, spending her whole life shopping and partying and goodness knows what else. If Kate doesn't have a job, she should get one. If she does get one, it isn't good enough or it somehow doesn't count or there's something wrong with it. If she goes to parties she's a shallow parasite; if she doesn't, she's a surly brat. Their real tour de force came last week with an article quoting some members of another royalty forum who'd made negative comments on threads there and claiming that this showed there was a smear campaign against Kate going on by members of the public and royalty discussion forums. To say nothing about the little comment that the details in those threads suggested that the people posting actually knew the Middleton siblings (thus giving readers the impression that these would be insider comments without actually saying so).

Seems to me, reading that article and various others from the Mail, that if there's any smear campaign going on it's originating at the newspapers, not in the country at large or on discussion forums. I'm just wondering, especially after the Mail led that crusade to stop Camilla going to Diana's memorial service last year, whether there's something more going on than just whipping up public interest in order to sell more papers. After undermining Charles and Camilla, the tabloids seem to be starting in on William and Kate. I know Rupert Murdoch is a republican, but he doesn't own the Mail; however, I think some of these articles are beginning to get to the point of playing with fire as far as the royals are concerned.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on whether all this sleaze and venom is just tabloid reporting at its most unpalatable or whether there's a more sinister agenda behind it?
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:49 PM
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As much as I hate dragging Diana's name into this discussion, I do feel her relationships with favored royal columnists, such as Richard Kay, bear responsibility on the behaviors of the Mail and others. That type of cosiness between subject and writer, a collusion of mutual benefit, gave Diana a lot of power in her tempestous relationship with the royal family and boosted sales of the papers at the same time. That ultimate insider trading "spoiled" The Mail.

By contrast, while William has given the odd interviews at milestones of his life, going to college, turning 21 and the concert last year, he is nevetheless guarded about personal details. Kate on the other hand never has given any interview to the press. William and Kate have by and large lived their lives on their own terms. They go to clubs or holiday, or stay in as they see fit. Despite their years long relationship, they are not mapping out their future according to the headlines in Daily News or other papers.

I think that lack of insider information has frustrated The Mail tremendously. Remember, while Diana was coy before her engagement, there were only about six months of serious paparazzi interest between discovery of her identity and the engagement. With William and Kate, there has been at least three years so far (since graduation from St Andrews and the end of press agreement) with no date in sight for an engagement. I think it's that frustration at the lact of information that led News of The World to break into palace voicemails, and the Daily Mail to home in on Kate Middleton and her family.

There is another aspect of the Daily Mail's pattern of articles that reminds me of what I had read about sexual harrassment: it's not about the sex, harrassment is about power. After goading the royal family into flying the flag for Diana's funeral, there was a euphoria of how much control the press can have over the royal family and the public opinion. This latest articles seems to be a crude attempt at goading William and Kate into announcing an engagement. It's not about the engagement itself, after all, if the couple do get engaged, there is the next step of wedding (when, where, how, and how much) and of course, any family planning. This is about the press controlling the royal family, it's showing the world who's the real boss.
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:16 PM
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I wondered something similar in my blog this weekend about the rash of contentious stories surrounding William and Kate from the Mail over the past few weeks.

I'm not sure exactly what's going on. I think Incas may be on to something about the issue of access to royals that started with the Charles/Diana mess in the early '90s. Prince William, of all people, surely will never be okay with bartering with tabloids the way his parents did, because it's been widely reported that he's very distrustful of the media after watching his mother's daily life and the way she died. Perhaps these negative stories are their way of trying to goad William into saying something in defense of his girlfriend to the press?

But I wonder if it's something else, too. A large part of this has to do with selling papers and garnering website hits, and judging from the number of comments that the Kate stories get on the Mail Online, I'd assume that stories about her are drawing major traffic. The more controversial, the bigger the payoff, perhaps. Those who actively wish Kate ill read the stories gleefully; those who are more measured in their feelings about her read either appreciatively or in disbelief at what sometimes passes for "reporting" (sourcing "articles" from internet message boards, for example).

Message boards like the one cited in the Mail this weekend, where vitriol is massive and many statements, IMO, are completely beyond the pale, are also obviously important to the tabloid these days. They're searching out these forums for stories; perhaps they feel they're appealing to a specific audience by writing things that will delight those who visit and write on those particular sites.

I don't know, in the end. All I know for sure is that I'm glad I'm not William or Kate. My daily life is tasking enough some days without having cameras follow me or journalists criticize me for working/not working, partying/not partying, etc.
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Old 09-03-2008, 10:54 AM
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Personally I think it says more about the Daily Mail readers than it does about the Daily Mail trying to 'smear' Kate and William.

If you think about the Daily Mail's target demographic it makes sense for them to talk a lot about Kate. I personally don't consider the Daily Mail an entirely serious newspaper. The more serious Newspapers in the UK are The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independant. Think about it this way the only paper that sells more copies is The Sun. The Daily Mail is sometimes a cross between the Sun and Tatler. They often do pieces about bright, young things such as Holly Branson, the Rothchilds and the Goldsmiths with articles that are really more gossipy and you'd usually find them in Hello magazine. The Daily Mail readers like to read about society but they're not part of it.

It's a sort of inverted snobbery with a hint of jealousy/holier-than-thou syndrome. It's as if they're saying "Well, look how badly behaved all those rich, young, intelligent, good looking people are. I may have no money but I'm so much more moral..." because who'd want to be rich, young, intelligent and goodlooking?

And because Diana was so forth coming, which really IMO wasn't good form. I agree that it's made the papers used to more than they should have had and it is a really valid possibility that they're frustrated with the lack of information. The trouble is the most news is when people's lives are falling apart, so the fact that the Daily Mail is trying to make news out of nothing can only be a good thing.

It's the kind of paper that slams the Royals for never doing a hard days work and then says on the next page: "Government fails to support troops in Iraq". Well Harry and William are soldiers and if you said that any other soldier didn't have a proper job the Mail would be the first to drag your name through the mud.

So Kate appearing not to work is too juicy for them to resist. That way their readers can tut-tut on their way to work on a commuter train. It's as if they're trying to cover up their own jealousy by saying that what's she's doing is lazy and morally against them. Kate has done absolutely nothing wrong.
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:16 AM
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The Daily Mail isn't worth a penny. I wouldn't listen to anything it has to say about anything, particularly the BRF. I dare say that just by being associated with William, her life is so different to the public's, that they couldn't begin to understand what her duties entail.

There are far lazier folk and far worse people who read that paper than Kate, who appears to have done little wrong so far, except failing to engage with the tabloids. I wouldn't engage with them either, with their track record for treatment of Royals.
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:25 AM
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In my humble opinion ...

I do not think that there is a smear campaign against Miss Middleton. We live in a fast-paced, celebrity-obsessed world, where the mass media tends to govern minds and sometimes souls of many ordinary people. Miss Middleton happens to have Prince William as her boyfriend. Thus, people are interested in her. I wonder who feeds the information about Miss Middleton and her family to the mass media.
As for Daily Mail, the news paper just does its job. We can accuse the above paper of frenzy and inconclusive evidence, but then again different facts/information can be interpreted in many ways.
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:44 AM
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I think the Mail has realized that Catherine took her cues from Camilla and that after a current discreet wife of the heir to the throne they'll get another one just like Camilla - that is too much for them. Plus William's and Catherine's friends seem to be loyal as much as Charles' and Camilla's friends are and that is soo frustrating. Or do you believe the people of the Mail and others have not yet turned any stone they could think of in the hope to find out more? Now the baiting is getting more heavy-handed but if Willaim and Catherine keep their motuths shut, it will all die down again.
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:53 AM
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Sometimes I get an impression that Miss Middleton's friends feed information to news papers. Of course, I can be wrong...
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
Sometimes I get an impression that Miss Middleton's friends feed information to news papers. Of course, I can be wrong...
Of course they feed information - but only positive ones which cannot be used against William and Catherine. The problem of the tabloids is that they don't seem to be getting at sources who know or tell about things the media could use for negative purposes. But I persoanlly doubt Catherine has that many friends left that are not children or grandchildren from Charles' or the queen's circle of friends. Which is a sad thought.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
Sometimes I get an impression that Miss Middleton's friends feed information to news papers. Of course, I can be wrong...
I wouldn't speculate that Miss Middleton's friends are necessarily the problem. I'm not sure what you know first hand of our tabloid papers here, but I suspect that much of what they print is ill-informed speculation. That is how our tabloids tend to work here, hence the many apologies they have to write and the numerous litigation cases they lose each year.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:13 PM
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Well, I have an idea about tabloids. Not all information printed by yellow papers happens to be incorrect. I think that it is more about responsible interpretation of information/facts tabloids publish.
If in fact Miss Middleton's friends do provide information to news papers, they have to stop giving any information to any news papers because (1) news papers can creatively interpret this information and (2) the friends can do nothing effectual about it.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_bina View Post
Well, I have an idea about tabloids. Not all information printed by yellow papers happens to be incorrect. I think It is more about responsible interpretation of information/facts tabloids publish.
If in fact Miss Middleton's friends do provide information to news papers, they have to stop giving any information to any news papers because (1) news papers can creatively interpret this information and (2) the friends can do nothing effectual about it.
I would have underlined the word "If". Since we don't know, it is merely speculation.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:40 PM
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Well, obviously from the article about the members of the other discussion forum, they're going to online forums for some of their information. It isn't just the tabloids, because we've been quoted by the Times at least once in recent years (although, thankfully, a lot more discreetly than the way the Mail treated the members at the other forum). I suppose it makes sense for the papers to keep tabs on royalty discussion forums as a way of seeing how people interested in royalty are reacting to both the royals and the stories about them.

However, I noticed that the Mail article said that the detail in the posts at the other forum suggests that the authors knew the Middletons. Setting aside the question of why a bunch of friends and acquaintances of this family would be trashing them on a discussion board, it did make me wonder how short a step it might be from "posts so detailed that the authors must know Kate" to "a source close to Kate." Because if the papers are getting their information from discussion boards (and presenting it as "an acquaintance of Kate Middleton told me") and discussion boards are getting their information from papers, that really does lead to the question of how authoritative anything is in the papers.

Having said that, I agree with Incas that there's an element of power and control going on - that the tabloids can make the royals dance to their tune if they want to - and that's probably one reason for the way they're acting. I just can't persuade myself that they aren't also trying to really damage the monarchy, because reducing the royal family to trivia and whipping up public feeling against senior royals can only do damage in the long run.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:42 PM
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The thing is that, with the Mail, there will always be Saint Diana and the others. I'm pretty sure if she was alive and approved of Kate being William's girlfriend, there wouldn't be such a campaign against her. They've lost their cash cow and now it's like no one can get any positive report except people who liked Diana (cf. the recent article on Richard Attenborough). Perhaps they think William, since he's Diana's son, is too good for any woman except for his mother. Perhaps they wish him to be a bachelor all his life. Wonder how this will produce an heir ...
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:52 PM
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Whatever happened to people not being fond of a public figure? Kate may not be a public figure but she is dating one (and a very high-profile at that) so inevitably there will be media attention that will result in people having opinions on Kate. Whether that is right or wrong is a different issue. So far as a concerted media smear, I don't think so.

Tha Mail is a trashy paper and always has been, they will print whatever they think will be accepted by the public imo. If you agree or disagree there is quite a strong public perception now that Kate is lazy, Will and Harry are lazy etc. I don't necessarily subscribe to that thinking but I do believe that a growing number of ordinary people do.

On a completely separate note I'm getting sick and tired of certain members claiming that dislike=jealousy. It's certainly a very illogical and incredibly weak leap to make.
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:10 PM
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{removed response to deleted post - Elspeth}

I am a reader of the Daily Mail (everyone is going to hate me for saying that - sorry ) Of course there is going to be interest in Kate because of her position as Williams' girlfriend but in recent weeks there has been far too much coverage on the Middleton family who have become almost celebreties (unfortuntely that the way society is in Britain that people can become famous for doing nothing or been connected to someone) Although alot of the things have most likely been made up there is a little truth in some aspects -
firstly there are the pictures of James (and one can imagne that someone of the Queens generation who not approve of these images - but thats not for us to judge as at the end of the day her is a typical guy in 20s),
secondly Kate may be working 9 to 5 for her parents and be on their payroll but it isnt going to be the most taxing job in the world and if you look at it since she graduated in 2004 she really hasnt done alot (working 4 days a week for Jigsaw and organising some charity events) of course it must be difficult to get employment considering the implications for the employer with the constant press attention and she could be seen as cashing in on her semi-royal status
thirdly there are alot of pictures of Kate shopping, clubbing etc thus creating the appearance of being a "WAG" which doesnt go down well with some in the British public

some of the "leaks" most likely have come from people who know Kate and William
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:13 PM
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I have the feeling the "smear campaign" started in the internet community and then translated to the papers. I have noted that there's a rather opinionated group of posters on several forums who are very much opposed to Kate Middleton and have been so for quite some time even long before any negative article was written about her. At first it was denied that she even was William's grilfriend then after university the first row of criticism started because Kate didn't have a job right away, then when she worked at Jigsaw her every picture was dissected, criticised and her every move torn apart. Finally she and her whole family were insulted as social climbers and golddiggers and now it's the Waity Katie line (a phrase, which was coined by someone at TIF, I think).
The Daily Mail obviously caught up with this group online and decided to use some of their story lines for their own publication - probably because they have no access to any real insiders as all the wrong reports about a possible engagement, Kate working for Testino, Kate living in Clarence House, Kate's mother attending Ascot with the Queen etc. clearly show.
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Old 09-03-2008, 05:46 PM
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I am a reader of the Daily Mail (everyone is going to hate me for saying that - sorry ) Of course there is going to be interest in Kate because of her position as Williams' girlfriend but in recent weeks there has been far too much coverage on the Middleton family who have become almost celebreties (unfortuntely that the way society is in Britain that people can become famous for doing nothing or been connected to someone) Although alot of the things have most likely been made up there is a little truth in some aspects -
firstly there are the pictures of James (and one can imagne that someone of the Queens generation who not approve of these images - but thats not for us to judge as at the end of the day her is a typical guy in 20s),
secondly Kate may be working 9 to 5 for her parents and be on their payroll but it isnt going to be the most taxing job in the world and if you look at it since she graduated in 2004 she really hasnt done alot (working 4 days a week for Jigsaw and organising some charity events) of course it must be difficult to get employment considering the implications for the employer with the constant press attention and she could be seen as cashing in on her semi-royal status
thirdly there are alot of pictures of Kate shopping, clubbing etc thus creating the appearance of being a "WAG" which doesnt go down well with some in the British public

some of the "leaks" most likely have come from people who know Kate and William[/quote]

Catherine graduated from St. Andrews University in 2005, she graduated at the same time that Prince William graduated. I think the current interest shown in Catherine's younger brother James is unfortunate for that young man and their entire family. I think it's an inappropriate interest because he isn't dating a member of royalty, and he isn't royalty. I think his pictures should not have been placed in the Daily Mail.

Catherine worked at Jigsaw for 1 year, but even if she had not worked at all, I fail to see how it could possibly matter. She isn't royalty either, so what difference could it make to any of us what she chooses to do with her time? Isn't her time her own, to spend as she pleases? I can't imagine how the degree of difficulty of her job should concern any of us. We are not her judge and jury to tell her how much work is acceptable and how much is not.

To my mind this issue is very strange and unusual. Why are so many people attempting to push their ideas and thoughts of what they feel is an acceptable number of days or hours for this woman to work? How can anyone imagine they are supposed to dictate to her when she is supposed to work and when she isn't?
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Old 09-03-2008, 06:35 PM
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It's a sort of inverted snobbery with a hint of jealousy/holier-than-thou syndrome.
I agree. I read the online version of Daily Mail. I don't consider it a "news"paper, but an entertainment paper with a pretension for being serious when it runs what I call the Thou-Shall/Thou-Shall-Not articles lecturing the Browns and the Windsors. Reading through posted comments after each piece on Kate, and even if the comments may have been screened by the paper, there is an overwhelming negativity towards Kate personally. And that negativity has racheted up several notched lately. Seems the Daily Mail has found a responsive audience. As each article repeats parts of claims from the previous one, I suppose if you repeat a fable often enough, you may just believe it is true.
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Old 09-03-2008, 06:47 PM
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People who work for family businesses often work harder than other employees because they have a vested interest in the business succeeding or going under. It can be their entire future, not just a paycheck.

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secondly Kate may be working 9 to 5 for her parents and be on their payroll but it isnt going to be the most taxing job in the world
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