The French media connection (Quebecers force-fed anti-US, leftist Euro-crap!)

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  1. -Cp

    -Cp Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2004
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    The French media connection

    Barbara Kay
    National Post
    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    MONTREAL - I was startled -- not in a good way -- to learn from political scientist Jean-Sebastien Rioux in a Post op ed last week that a majority of (francophone) callers to a Radio-Canada talk show following the London bombings felt the attacks were "justifiable," directly linked to the "imperialism" of George W. Bush's foreign policy and Tony Blair's support for the U.S. in the Iraq war.

    Quebecers used to love America. In the '80s they lobbied enthusiastically for free trade and during the 1995 referendum naively envisioned an independent Quebec enjoying a special relationship with neighbouring New England. But since 9/11, their affection has cooled dramatically. Why?

    Is it their uniformly left-wing francophone media? Rioux indeed deplores the lack of journalistic diversity here in comparison to English Canada, further noting that the Quebec newspaper Le Soleil didn't cover the Iraq war itself, but published feeds from France's Liberation.

    Ah, the "French connection!" Of course. For linguistic and ideological reasons, Quebec's elites look to France for intellectual fodder. And in America-loathing France, polls indicate no more than 5% of French people will admit to any admiration at all for the U.S.

    But admiration for the French press is no compliment to Quebec readers, for it is a third-rate institution without credibility or respect on the international scene. Who can remember Le Monde or Figaro or Liberation being cited for its commentary on important events?

    Because national dailies are widely read in North America and the U.K., Quebecers are probably unaware that French newspapers, as their risibly low readership numbers attest, are not taken seriously anywhere, even in France. Le Monde, France's leading newspaper, has a circulation of only 400,000 in a country of 60 million people. In England, The Sun's readership alone is twice that of all the major national French dailies combined.

    Unlike the free press of the U.S. and Britain, French newspapers receive heavy governmental subsidies, and are dominated by powerful, in-all-but-name communist unions. In return for their support, the national dailies toe the party line on sensitive political issues, bruiting French "exceptionalism," and self-censoring their commentary when criticism might prove awkward for either.

    Toward George Bush, Israel and the Iraq war their enmity is boundless, and frequently baseless. They routinely compare Bush to Hitler. One cartoon in Le Monde portrayed grinning, slavering American troops stomping on Iraqi children.

    A cautionary tale illustrates the effete and inbred state of French journalism. Alain Hertoghe was a senior editor with 17 years of experience at La Croix, a Catholic daily. His growing discomfort with anti-Americanism in the press led him to write a book called La Guerre a Outrances: Comment la Presse nous a Desinformes sur L'Irak (All-Out War: How the Press Lied to Us About Iraq), in which he detailed an incriminating litany of misleading and incompetent war reportage by the French press.

    Instead of wide public debate on the book, there was utter silence. No newspaper reviewed or commented on it. Hertoghe's editor fired him because, in criticizing the press rather than politicians, he had "committed an act of treason." Hertoghe's story made the rounds of international journalism (the Wall Street Journal ran an indignant Boxing day editorial on it in 2003), but it sank without a trace in the wagon-circling French media.

    Today Hertoghe, who merits the respect of a Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, is reduced to working for the French version of Yahoo! News, while Michael Moore, who "exposed" Bush's "lies" about Iraq is accorded reverential celebrity status in France.

    France was a good friend to Saddam and as a result was able to call in some chips when two French journalists were, to their astonishment ("But we're on your side!") kidnapped, but not beheaded as other victims were, and eventually released during the Iraq war. Nevertheless, Islamist rage has taken its toll on the French elsewhere. A Pakistani suicide bomber killed 11 French engineers, and a French tanker was bombed off the coast of Yemen in 2002. At home, the most stringent security measures are in place against terror, and the French live in a state of siege, petrified of their own unassimilated Muslim citizens, who routinely demonstrate their civic indifference and calculated menace in acts of violence against Jews and their property.

    But it is other journalists who linger on this unpleasantness, not the French. France's foreign policy, however anti-American, will in the end count for nothing in the face of Islamo-fascist ideology, according to which any perceived slight to Islam invites terrorist reprisals. Being a democracy is in itself an insult to Islamists, whether you are pro-active America, cynical France or peace-obsessed Canada.

    French intellectuals, who never met a tyrant they couldn't admire, as long as that tyrant hates America, are the last people on earth to tell Quebecers the truth about Islamofascism. The truth is that the bell doesn't toll only for Americans and Brits: it tolls, my complacent talk show-phone-in fellow Quebecers, for thee.

    © National Post 2005

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