Friday, November 04, 2005

Are US MSM slow to cover French riots?

Sitting in Europe, I have been awakened to the fact of the on-going riots in Paris (see Olivier Guitta in the Weekly Standard, November 14, 2005, here). I wondered why I was not more aware of them - in full throttle for well over a week now - from the US MSM. Curious, I went back and looked over US newspaper coverage from the point when the riots began.

Perhaps I am overly suspicious of venues like the NYT or Washington Post, but it seems to me, at least, that both papers were very slow to pick up on the gathering violence and neither has given it the attention it deserves, even in comparison with the ever-present tendency to trash the war in Iraq and anything else available even remotely to lay at the feet of the present administration. Both papers, it seems to me, have gone out of their way in their coverage to favor criticism of the French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose politically incorrect, un-multicultural stance seems to have the slightest whiff of, well, Bushism about it. Part of what I, at least, see as slow, buried, and gently biased coverage by the US press is due to not wanting to criticize Western Europe because it bears the torch against the wicked Bush administration. Part of it also is that it is does not want to show Europe's multiculturally politically incorrect response because that gives succor to anti-multiculturalism (look, even the Europeans don't buy the multi-culti line, except in international meetings of their elites trashing the Americans), which, of course, is weird because Europe has far greater problems with integration of immigrants than the US does (although, to be fair, Western Europe's immigration problems, in terms of culture, religion, etc., are far more difficult than America's).

Part of the reporting weakness, too, is that venues like the NY Times simply have the wrong kind of reporters covering the place for what it has become today - they are often reporters with little interest and less grasp of the economic and business matters that allow Europe its good life, little or no grasp of the immigration issues, and are frankly people who prefer soft cultural issues, Europe as a style-fashion beat - the kind of reporters who, faced, for example, with Merkel, can't think beyond doing a story on how she is ... female.

(The best coverage in US journalism of Western Europe continues to be, by a wide margin, Christopher Caldwell.)


Anonymous said...

Unlike you, I have not found that the US mainstream media coverage has been late in coming or downplayed the coverage. I have however noted that the local coverage by French media was very slow in coming and did not receive any serious first page coverage until around the third day, and even there it has been half-hearted.

Unlike the U.S. media, which reflects a skepticism and even bias against any government in power and especially a Republican one, French establishment media is hypernationalistic and will tend to slavishly protect the country's image, in particular abroad (French foreign policy, French "social model", etc.)

The French media devoted far more coverage to Katrina, and right from the start, than they have to the fires burning in their own backyard. More front page coverage to the Scooter Libby pseudo-scandal (and completed distorted in ways you can imagine) than to the numerous representatives of the French State (and its diplomatic representation in particular) placed under investigation in the last month in the OFF scandal or dozens of former RPR officials sentenced to prison last week (including Chirac's former chief of staff as Paris Mayor). More to Abu Ghraib than to French military misdeeds, including the killing of unarmed civilians, in Cote d Ivoire. Or the Amnesty International Report last Spring on the police brutality and discrimination against immigrants and non-whites (which never even made it into the papers here). These are but recent examples.

In fact, the French media is now complaining about coverage in the U.S. media supposedly misrepresenting the violence in the French ghettoes, described by French media as the work of hoodlums and delinquents (as opposed to real "social causes" of labor unions that might engage in substantially similar behaviour or the "resistance" fighting the U.S. imperialists).

Go and see the hilarious TF1 (major broadcastor) LCI (like CNN) news video report at under title "Protection from Reality" to see this.


Peter Gonzalez

Anonymous said...

Also instructive: this AFP article claiming the French downplaying of the riots in the media is out of a concern of not stoking the fires. This is a perfect example of the Vichy syndrome, also noted during the Rwanda genocide...