The UK media reports on ”Newsnight”
Madonna: We Got No Special Treatment
From Sky News:
Madonna insists she did not receive any special treatment over her adoption of a young boy from Malawi.
She says she and her husband Guy Ritchie went through months of checks before David Banda was allowed to live with them.
“I can assure you that I wasn’t given any special treatment,” the 48 year old told Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark.
“It’s interesting that when you want to adopt a child you have to go through all of these tests.
“But when you want to have a child no one asks or expects anything of you.”
Asked whether the adoption process coupled with the intense media scrutiny had been distressing, Madonna replied: “Absolutely”.
She strenuously denied newspaper reports that David was visited regularly by his father and his grandmother at the orphanage.
“If someone had said to me, ‘His dad comes every week or his granny visits on a regular basis and he’s well looked after’, I would not even have given it another thought,” she said.
“According to the reverend who ran the orphanage that David came from, his father never visited him.
“His father lived 50 or 60km away, had no car, had no money and, as far as I was told, had remarried and moved on with his life.”
When Madonna first saw David, he was in an appalling physical state with “the most horrendous diaper rash I’ve ever seen”, she said.
David is currently at the star’s London home after she was granted a temporary custody order.
In a separate interview with NBC’s Today show in the US, Madonna branded critics of the adoption as “racist” because the boy was black.
“I think it’s still considered taboo,” she said.
“A lot of people have a problem with the fact that I’ve adopted an African child, a child who has a different colour skin than I do.”
• Madonna may adopt more children
From the BBC News:
Madonna has said she may adopt another child from abroad following her proposed adoption of a one-year-old baby boy, David Banda, from Malawi.
“I wouldn’t rule it out… but I would like to experience David for a while and see how it works out,” she told the BBC’s Newsnight programme.
In a separate interview on NBC’s Today show in the US, Madonna accused critics of the adoption of being “racist”.
“I think it’s still considered taboo,” said the 48-year-old singer. “A lot of people have a problem with the fact that I’ve adopted an African child, a child who has a different colour skin than I do,” she added.
David is currently living with Madonna and her family in London after the US star was granted a temporary custody order.
The singer confirmed the child was wearing a red string bracelet, worn by devotees of Kabbalah, a branch of ancient Jewish mysticism which Madonna follows.
“If David decides he wants to be a Christian, then so be it,” she told the Today show.
“I believe in Jesus and I study Kabbalah, so I don’t see why he can’t too.”
She said David was “hysterically funny” but also had a “terrible temper”.
Madonna told Newsnight that she had offered to support the baby and leave him in Malawi, but his father declined.
She “became interested in him” after being told he had been “left in the orphanage”, she told the BBC.
The singer denied newspaper reports that David had regular visits at the orphanage from his father and his grandmother.
“If someone had said to me, ‘His dad comes every week or his granny visits on a regular basis and he’s well looked after,’ I would not even have given it another thought.”
A case brought by Malawi rights groups challenging the adoption earlier this month has been adjourned until 13 November.
The child’s father, Yohane Banda, has protested against moves to halt the adoption.
Madonna funds six orphanages through her Raising Malawi charity and is setting up an orphanage for 4,000 children in a village outside the capital, Lilongwe.
• Madonna tackles her critics head on
From The Times:
Had one considered, five years ago, which controversy Madonna would next be embroiled in, it is unlikely that many of us would have guessed “something involving the adoption laws of Malawi”. Madonna was, at the time, far more likely to fellate a burning crucifix than do anything that involved African orphans.
But, as the world turns, so it changes, and here we are in 2006 with The Most Famous Woman in the World facing a media inquiry over the latest addition to her family, an adopted, one-year-old Malawian child called David Banda.
The accusations against her are various, but commonly boil down to three suspicions: that she has used her fame and wealth to bend the Malawian adoption laws; that adoption is less preferable to providing aid to keep orphans in their own country; and that the whole thing is, in some way, a publicity stunt.
Interviewed on the BBC Newsnight programme last night – more commonly the haunt of Cabinet ministers trying to explain their position on Iraq – Madonna used the opportunity to address some of these issues – and throw her hat into the ring for a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency. “I wouldn’t mind if Hillary Clinton was president, yeah.”
Turning to the subject of her personal life, she told the presenter, Kirsty Wark, that, after the experiences she has had adopting David Banda, she would “like to get the adoption laws changed”, and that she would consider adopting more children if the process weren’t “so complicated”.
“I can assure you, I had no special treatment,” the singer said of the adoption she hoped would inspire others to adopt from Africa.
“Africa is in a state of emergency. When you have an entire adult population wiped out, and no one to look after these children, you’ve got to address the laws and make adoption easier for people.”
Later in the interview she went on to deny that the child’s father disapproved of the adoption or that he had regularly visited the child in the state orphanage. “I was told that he was not visited by any of his extended family members, and that’s why I become interested in him. If someone had said to me, “Oh, his dad comes every week”, I wouldn’t have given it another thought.”
While not a scintillating series of hot revelations, the interview was a considerable coup for the BBC. For the past two weeks, whenever Sir Paul and Lady McCartney have had a quiet afternoon in, the adoption by Madonna has dominated international news headlines. Last week she appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show in the US to talk about the controversy – but only via satellite. Newsnight, on the other hand – not usually the first stop for celebrities – had Madonna in person, although not in a London studio. It is hard to imagine Jeremy Paxman sanctioning the set of billowing white silk drapes, a candelabra and a display of stargazer lilies.
Looking both composed, and pleased at having secured such a good lighting technician, Madonna also acted to head off “Grannygate” – an accusation in The Guardian that her putative son also has a living grandmother who had not been consulted about the adoption.
“I never met a granny,” she said, going on to deny allegations that the child’s father wished to look after the child and had asked Madonna to support them while the child remained in Malawi.
“I offered that option to the father and he declined,” she said – before explaining how the new child had “balanced out” her existing family.
While the Newsnight interview will almost certainly not stop media debate – let’s face it, this is going to be headline news until Kate Moss and Pete Doherty are spotted doing a Su Doku together in a teashop – it does highlight, once again, Madonna’s innate ability to press everyone’s buttons.
For, in single act of altruism, she has managed to ignite a debate that encompasses immigration, Africa, working mothers, modern parenting, international adoption law, race, money and fame. If she subsequently opts to make Sir Paul and Lady McCartney the child’s godparents, she might just have sparked the ultimate news nexus.