French journalists view of Iraq war gets him fired - part deux

I blogged about this already here Denis Boyles in the National Review's excellent EuroPress Review goes into a lot more depth than the Yahoo/AP news item I ran into. Story here: bq. Springtime in Paris, 2003. Pretend you're a French journalist during the opening weeks of the war in Iraq. Every day, your paper, like all the papers in France, blossoms with the grim news of American and British defeats, sorry stories of a quagmire the size of Vietnam, rising hatred of Americans by the Iraqis, the heroic struggle of the Arab leader -- who, after all, is an old friend and business partner of France. But then, suddenly, Baghdad falls, no armies are lost in the sand, the war has been fought, leaving only the peace to be won. Could it be a miracle? bq. Well, France is a secular state, so no. But it's not a scoop, either, since most people -- other than the French, the Germans, and those who relied on the BBC -- understood with clarity exactly what was happening in Iraq. If you're Alain Hertoghe, a French-educated Belgian and a 17-year veteran of La Croix, France's prestigious Catholic daily, and you spend your days reading the AP and AFP wires and comparing the news there with the news you see in print, you realize the story isn't the victory of the Coalition in Iraq, but the defeat of the press in Paris. The war the French press had been fighting was lost, ambushed by reality. bq. Hertoghe suddenly realized a serious wrong was being done by his paper and others. He told me one particular news item pushed him over the line -- an editorial cartoon in Le Monde, claiming Bush's actions in Iraq had racist motivations. "It was very wrong. To us in France, it reminded us of Le Pen." It had been preceded by many others, including this one from the day before showing America's murderous arrogance. "I had already seen this happen in Afghanistan," he said. "It was the same then. I couldn't believe it was happening again the same way." Hertoghe saw his story, so he wrote a book about it. And that's when his problems started. bq. Hertoghe, 44, is the former deputy editor of the online version of La Croix. His book, La guerre � outrances: Comment la presse nous a d�sinform�s sur l'Irak (roughly, and more pointedly, "All-out war: How the press lied to us about Iraq"), was published by Calmann Levy, France's oldest publishing house, with impeccable timing last October, just as several other introspective books critical of France were flourishing on the best-seller lists and stimulating debate among the yakking-classes. But there was one little thing different about Hertoghe's book. It wasn't critical of France. It was critical of the French press. bq. Specifically, it was critical of the misleading and incompetent reporting that appeared not only in his own paper, but also in Le Figaro, Le Monde, Lib�ration, and Ouest-France, the largest regional newspaper, during the first few weeks of the war in Iraq. Hertoghe's book appeared in bookstores around the country and he waited for the debate to begin. And more: bq. The icy treatment has surprised Hertoghe. "I was excited that I would be challenged on whether my book was fair," he said, "because I knew I had been fair. I hoped for a debate. But instead...." Instead, just before Christmas, Hertoghe was confronted by his editor, Bruno Frappat. He was told by Frappat that he had "committed an act of treason" and fired. bq. So a veteran journalist, a chap who had covered the first Gulf war, who had crisscrossed America covering the 2000 election, and who wrote refreshing, somewhat iconoclastic pieces, such as this one, on a regular basis for a newspaper that prided itself on what Hertoghe called "the kind of tradition of freedom of thought that exists among Catholics" had been first silenced for pointing out incompetency in his own profession and then fired. I excerpeted only a bit from the article -- worth reading to get an insight into the mentality of the French ( and Old European) Ruling Class.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 12, 2004 8:09 PM.

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