Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Le Monde, the Mouthpiece of the French Foreign Ministry

When referring to Le Monde, is it any wonder that the International Herald Tribune's John Vinocur speaks of the newspaper's close relationship with the French Foreign Ministry? A front-page "analysis" in the newspaper of reference is consecrated to foreign minister Michel Barnier's decision not to send French soldiers to Iraq, "not now nor in the future".

First of all, the title — The Chirac-Bush Rupture over Iraq — is misleading — making it sound like the rupture of a patient Jacques Chirac was recent and has not been ongoing for the past year and a half. Throughout the article, the wording benefits — nay, lionizes — France and castigates not only America, but, at times, everybody else, including the UN and Berlin ("contrary to Germany, France affirmed that it 'would assume its responsabilities'"). The message is loud and clear. France is responsible, sensible, humane, and the only country to conduct a responsible, sensible, and humane policy towards Iraq. Some outtakes:

  • "Never have France's leaders been so categorical" (when Washington is categorical, the French call it "being intransigeant")
  • "France considers the time has come to clearly say…" (only Paris is frank and forthcoming)
  • "Today, Paris has decided to draw the necessary conclusions" (only the French know how to reason in a reasonable manner)
  • "Washington's double-dealing with the UN" (self-explanatory)
  • "To make a long story short, the American administration wants support and relief but will not let go of the reins. It calls on the UN for help all the while maintaining the vagueness on the role it is ready to grant to it" (the article immediately follows this example of "double-dealing" with a quote calling the August 2003 bombing of the UN's headquarters in Baghdad the result "the UN paid for this ambiguity", i.e., it is all Washington's fault)

And when questions arise as to the righteousness of France's conduct, now or earlier, author Claire Tréan raises them only to have some French official, identified or not, conveniently provide an answer in the next line that shows that the French policy is not only coherent, it is the only correct one.

In fact, there are 19 quotations in the article, ranging from a short phrase or even a single word to full-blown paragraphs. Not a single one is from an American. Not a single one is from anybody else but a Frenchman. Not a single one.

Lire la version française


Anonymous said...

Reading Le Monde is like watching the France2 news, only in print

Mitch said...

The French do not have a monopoly on self-congratulation, but they seem to have raised the art to new heights. What is more distressing to me than the servility of a single newspaper is the unanimity of the French media in following the government line.