Irrespective of that, it's just incredible. The celebrity gossip is sensational - if you're only interested in the narrow range of celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Colleen Rooney, taking in all reality stars on the way. The news reporting is shrill and parochial and excitable, rammed with foghorn moral outrage yet timid use of facts. I called their newsdesk once, for my job. It was terrifying. And they now have my mobile number - the mark of the beast is on me.
Realistically, it's pretty pointless directing anyone to a story on the site from here, because I'm guessing my entire readership (static at four) has already read every story, possibly several times. I therefore present a comment from the site - in the spirit of my second favourite web location - SpEak You're Branes.
Some background. The story in question is classic Mail fodder. It's sexy (in a paedo-beast way), involves death, prison, retribution, dead children, black and white moral outrage and so on. The sort of story they thrive on. Illustrated with a Facebook-esque snap. Joanna Rutledge, 27, has fallen for Ian Huntley. Although she may well be insane, it's just as likely that she doesn't exist. The comments - always the highlight of any story, range from "EWWWWW" (thanks for your useful contribution, no doubt hammered from your keyboard) to "he should be swinging from the gibbet at the bottom of my garden" to variations on "will no one think of the children" (the latter two both classic and well-worn DM refrains).
My favourite tip when faced with a bank of comments left by habitual readers of the Daily Mail is to check out the 'best rated' (those which have received the most green arrowed - the currency of the home counties housewives and spluttering gouty colonels who read the paper). They usually involve 'Bliar', Cherie Booth, NuLiebour (geddit) and the global warming scam. Once you've tested the wrath of middle England, it's time to move on to a special treat - check out those which have received the most red arrows. They're the comments which the Daily Mail readers hate, and usually involve compassion, human rights and/or gay equality.
Back to Huntley. Here's the sensational worst rated comment (which has still, as of now, garnered two green arrows):
Poor girl, you will end up realising that nobody loves anyone, this man doesn't care about you at all, you have absolutely no value to him for who you are. These sex killers have something powerful about them, I once met one for a drink (from Guardian soulmates) and was totally blown away, yet I somehow knew he was a killer and said he would kill a woman within a year and it would be all over the news, and it happened just as I said. This man attracted women like flies and I was no exception, but when they put his CCTV picture on the media he looked less than prepossessing to any observer who had never met him."Nobody loves anyone"
Wonder what makes a woman fall for a guy like that? A lot do.
- anon, UK, 29/10/2010 14:49
"It happened just as I said"
Firstly, why would a Mail reader even contemplate Guardian Soulmates, where you're far more likely to meet an assistant producer of avant-garde puppet theatre for Somali adolescents living in noble penury in Crouch End than a ruddy-faced young Tory.
Second. You are mental.