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Paper Monitor

11:58 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"I wanted to save an orphan from war and hunger. No one said I was doing wrong" runs the headline on the front of the Guardian, atop a picture of an attractive, well-groomed but distraught-looking woman portraying herself as an unsuspecting victim.

But no, it's not Heather Mills (McCartney). It's a woman caught up in a scandal about child abduction in Chad.
heather_mirror203.jpg
You won't be surprised to hear it's not a story that's troubling the front pages of the tabloids. This is territory that has been firmly staked out for the aforementioned Mills.

As any seasoned celeb knows, there's one target above any other that is irreproachable in the eyes of the popular press, and that is the popular press itself.

It is not a beast known for retreating for ponderous reflection and thoughtful wound-licking before emerging to say "fair cop guv. We won’t do it again".

Just ask the owner of the Hey Jo club in Jermyn Street London, which receives a muted apology tucked away in the bottom corner of page four of today's Times. "The owner… has asked us to make it clear that his establishment is not a lapdancing club, contrary to our report… August 17".

And that's the esteemed and reputable Times!

Of course, Ms Mills must have known before embarking on her rolling broadside against the press that she wasn't going to get the kid gloves treatment on Thursday morning. So how bad is the backlash?

In referring her attacks, there's an easy way to play this that all the tabloids (and Paper Monitor uses the term in its more traditional sense) have seized on: Mucca is mad.

So it's the picture (see Mirror cover, above) of Mills with wild staring eyes, strained neck, hair flying and lips parted mid-tirade that makes it on the front of the Sun, Mail, Mirror, Star and Express.

The Sun has got agony aunt Deidre Sanders on the case – "Heather needs help" she explains, and includes some helpful numbers for Relate and Parentline. The main story does away with first name familiarity – relegating her simply to "Mucca".

It omits, however, to show a picture of Mills in her "Boycott the Sun" T-shirt – a photo-op not passed up by the Mirror. Having built strong links with Mills in recent months, its tone is unsurprisingly more sympathetic, though no less sensational

That's not the case with the Mail, which is outraged by Mills comparing her "plight" to that of the McCanns. Amanda Platell issues a straightforward challenge: if the press have been telling lies, sue us for libel.

The Star meanwhile sees this as an opportunity for an editorial. Its conclusion: "Being married to Heather must have been a 24/7 nightmare."

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