Misplaced French Cries of Media Bias
By William Alford
May 29, 2003

It is time once again to shed crocodile tears as senior French officials complain of being treated unfairly by the U.S. media. Former diplomat Ken Adelman notes that a general antipathy toward France is being attributed to a Bush administration-orchestrated disinformation campaign rather than “Paris’s deeds,” such as:

· French President Chirac strenuously campaigned to end UN sanctions while Saddam was in power [meriting a “warm thank you letter” from the Ba’athist dictator]. Post-war, France then opposed sanction relief for Iraq’s beleaguered populace. Sanctions were begrudgingly lifted May 22. [This act was represented in Paris’ Le Monde with a cartoon depicting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin with vipers slithering from their mouths that then formed the Stars and Stripes.]
· The London Daily Telegraph reports documents recently found in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry indicating French collusion to stifle exposure of Saddam’s human rights abuses.
· Other materials reveal French officials were having “detailed discussions” of possible Coalition military plans with Saddam’s regime “up to and after” the start of hostilities.
· Revelations continue to surface exposing a long-standing pattern of military hardware sales and financial commitments to Saddam (as distinguished from the Iraqi people).
· After portraying President Bush as a bully for even considering Saddam’s forcible removal, President Chirac warned upstart Eastern European nations in February that they would jeopardize their potential EU membership [hinting at economic reprisals] if they defied Paris by siding with America over Iraq.

Accusations that France provided EU documentation that facilitated the escape of Iraqi war criminals [thus protecting themselves from exposure as well] are therefore more than credible. While we’re on the subject of Franco-American media distortion, what have French journalists been reporting about the United States?

· Unhappy with the American media’s war coverage, France 2 TV commentator Thierry Ardisson declared that we have no free press. Further, America should be lumped together with the likes of Cuba and Saddam’s Iraq as being candidates for investigation by [the international free press organization] Reporters Without Borders.
· In a recent political cartoon in Le Monde, President Bush is depicted dragging an oil-soaked Dove of Peace by a leash alongside a river of oil, which is clogged with the bodies of Iraqi civilians. Behind him, an Israeli and Palestinian are at each other’s throats, ignored. In another, Iraqis impale each other with scimitars while Bush looks on approvingly at the gushing oil wells from the safety of a TV screen.
· Merdeinfrance informs us of a popular French TV comedy, “Les Guignols” [The Puppets] in which US soldiers are shown “playing with the decapitated heads of tortured Guantanamo prisoners.” In a later scene, an American serviceman strangles his own mother while suffering a combat ‘flashback’ precipitated by the sight of her gas-guzzling SUV.
· Subsequent to Saddam’s fall, the world looked on in horror while Iraq’s museums were vandalized and looted. Recent reports now indicate that most of the important treasures were hidden in vaults. Nonetheless, French publications like RousseauVoltaire.net lamented, “The oldest State of the world was dispossessed of the essence of its archaeological and artistic treasures under the impassive glance of” Coalition forces (Google translation). Additionally, Chirac characterized these thefts as ‘crimes against humanity,’ and hinted that they may have been perpetrated with (U.S.) government complicity. [It should be noted that several looted items have turned up in the French antiquities market.]
· When an April 8 explosion at Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel killed two journalists and injured several others, the French media immediately piled on to blame American troops. The local commander was even prepared to accept responsibility. An Iraqi missile strike (rather than a US tank) is now considered the more likely culprit. The French public has largely been spared this new information.
· During the war, France 2 news repeatedly reported that Coalition bombs were ‘destroying the country’ and implied that civilians were being deliberately targeted. When these reports turned out to be false, there was no attempt to disabuse their audience of the previous distortions.

How have the French citizenry responded to such coverage?

In late March, a memorial to Anglo-American WWII soldiers (who died while evicting the Nazis from France) was desecrated. A spray-painted swastika and slogans such as “Death to the Yankees” and “Dig up your garbage [our buried soldiers], it’s fouling our soil” were among the defacements. An 8-foot Statue of Liberty replica was burned and splattered with red paint in Bordeaux. Polling results at that time indicated that one-third of France’s population desired Saddam’s victory over the Americans.

Who is leading whom?

In a recent column entitled “France is not a Western Country Anymore,” commentator Guy Milliere informs us that Jews must try not to look so Jewish if they venture out in public or face violence. Synagogues are now common targets for vandalism. Reviving the old ‘blame the victim’ mindset, European women are being told that it is reasonable for them to expect sexual assault if they behave and dress as if there were no young Muslim men around.

Cultural Relativism is embraced wholeheartedly in France. Consequently the mindset of the Third World is being imposed on the natives rather than expecting the immigrants to assimilate. Apparently, the French media is adapting to the mores of its changing audience as well.



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