“Arrêt sur Images” (freeze frame), a media-watch program hosted by Daniel Schneidermann is the only French public affairs TV show that ever questions the domestic media on a regular basis. Schneidermann is a career journalist who was fired by Le Monde for having written a book that had criticized their editorial line.
Today’s subject was, not surprisingly, the recent coverage of the riots.
It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy was deliberately demonized in the TV reports of him using his strong language earlier in the week. In fact, there was footage available showing Sarkozy using the word “racaille” (riff-raff) while speaking to an inhabitant of Clichy-sous-Bois who herself had just used the word while expressing how fed up she was with local crime.
Sarko answered her using her own words. In politics, that’s a way of communicating empathy. Her words were edited out and never shown in the insuing days. His weren’t. “Arrêt sur Images” showed the whole exchange today.
Mr. Sarkozy was filmed quietly and calmly speaking to youths from Clichy who were apparently very deferential toward him (calling him Monsieur), eager to talk to him and seemed impressed that he was willing to leave himself unprotected by bodyguards in order to spend some time with them. In a what amounts to a ghetto that’s a sincere display of trust.
That footage didn’t make the news programs simply because the Provisional wing of the CGT got in the way of honest journalism. It didn’t suit their political agenda, and through its’ heavy ideological editing fanned the flames you might see in your nearest car park or bus depot. Never mind the possible tensions that the press can inflame by reporting too much, worry about what harm is caused by consciously reporting too little.
Schneidermann’s “A vous de le dire” sounds like is comes from the same place and a reaction to the same wall of silence as “We report, you decide”.
Many thanks to Valerie