11 septembre 9/11 aaron klein abbas abdallah abdallah II abdelkader merah accords d'oslo adam zertal adenauer affaires Ă©trangĂ¨res afghanistan africom afrique afrique du sud ahmadinejad aipac AKP al qaeda al qaida al-arabiya al-fayed al-qaida algĂ©rie algeria aliyah allemagne amĂ©rique america anavad ANC angela merkel ankara ansar dine antisĂ©mitisme antisemitism antizionism apartheid aqmi arabes arabes israĂ©liens arabie saoudite arabs arafat armĂ©e armĂ©niens army ashkenazy assad assemblĂ©e gĂ©nĂ©rale assyriens atatĂĽrk auschwitz autoritĂ© palestinienne autriche-hongrie ayrault azawad Ă©conomie Ă©glise Ă©gypte Ă©lections Ă©tat Ă©tats-unis Ă©vangĂ©liques bachman baker balkans balladur bangladesh bankruptcy banlieues barack obama barak barbares bat yeor bayrou begin beheading beilin belgique belgium bennet benoĂ®t xvi berbĂ¨res bernheim bible biden bill clinton blancs blood libel BNVCA bourgine brĂ©sil brexit britain brzezinski burke bush byzantins cahuzac cameron canada carter Castro cfr chaos charlie hebdo Chavez cheney chiisme chiites china chine chirac chosroes ii chrĂ©tiens christianisme christianity christians church chypre circumcision cisjordanie citizenship claude guĂ©ant clĂ©menceau clermont-tonnerre clinton cnn CNRS colin powell cologne columbia commentary communautĂ© communism communisme communistes confĂ©rence de la paix confrĂ©ries congrĂ¨s conseil de sĂ©curitĂ© conservatism conservative conservatives consistoire constantinople constitution contestation coptes coran corĂ©e du nord corsica crif crime crise crise sociale cuba cuisine cukierman culture daesh daniel johnson daniel pearl david pryce-jones dĂ©mocrates dĂ©mocratie dĂ©mographie de gasperi de gaulle democrats demographics demography deng desportes dhimmis dhimmitude dieudonnĂ© dinard djihad dollar doxa dreyfus droit international droite droits de l'homme druzes egypte eilat mazar eisenhower election elections emanuel emigration empire ottoman ena enderlin enfants erbakan erdogan espagne etat etats-unis ethnic ethnie EU eurabia eurasia eureka euro europe european parliament european union exode expulsion expulsions fabius facebook far left far right fatah fayĂ§al ferdinand ferhat fethullah gĂĽlen fifth republic fillon finkielkraut flandre flotille fmi FN fondapol food foreign affairs foreign policy france franco frĂ¨res musulmans french french muslims front national frontiĂ¨re internationale fusion antisemitism gates gauche gaza gĂ©nĂ©tique gĂ©nocide gĂ©opolitique genĂ¨se general assembly genocide geopolitics george soros george w. bush george washington germany ghozlan gingrich giscard d'estaing giuliani globalization golden age goldnadel goldstone gorbatchev grande-bretagne grĂ¨ce greece greens grippe espagnole guĂ©ant guĂ©rilla guerre guerre civile guerre de sĂ©cession gurfinkiel hallal halutz hamas hamon haredim harkabi hĂ©breux hekla herzl herzog hezbollah hillary clinton hillel halkin histoire history hitler hollande holocaust holocauste houellebecq HUJI hungary huntsman hurvah hypercasher ibn saoud icm research idĂ©ologie identitĂ© nationale ifop iforas iiie rĂ©publique ilan halimi immigrants immigration implantations inĂ¶nĂĽ inde ined internet interview irak iran irgoun isabelle ISIS islam islamic state islamism islamisme islamistes islamists israĂ©lites israĂ«l israel israel beiteinu italie ivan de bloch j call j street jabotinsky japon jĂ©rusalem jĂĽnger jean paul II jean-marie le pen jerusalem jewish revival jews jihad jihadism jihadisme jihadistes jihadists john mccain johnson jordanie jour de colĂ¨re judaĂŻsme judĂ©o-christianisme juifs juifs amĂ©ricains juppĂ© kabylie kadhafi kadima kadimah kassam kemal kennedy kerry kgb khamenei khomeini kim kippour kissinger knesset kohl korsia kosher kosher supermarket kosovo kotel kouchner l'express l'obs la paix maintenant laĂŻcitĂ© lapid ldj le drian le monde le nouvel observateur le pen le point lebanon left leftwing Levant liban libĂ©raux liberation libertariens libertĂ© libye liebermann ligne verte likoud likud livni livres london louis xvi LR lyons macarthur maccain macron magoudi mahmoud abbas mai 1968 mali mandala mandat mandela mao marcion marcionisme marine le pen marines marion marĂ©chal-le pen maroc maronites marseilles massacres massortis mavi marmara mayflower mayotte mĂ©dias mĂ©lanchon mccain media medias mein kampf mer morte mer noire merah meretz mergui merkel mexique michel gurfinkiel middle east migrants migration missiles mitterrand mnla mohamed merah monarchie monarchy monde arabe monde islamique monod mont du temple montauban montebourg montesquieu morocco morsi mosaic moscovici moubarak moyen-orient munich murder muslims musulmans napolĂ©on napoleon naqba nasser natalitĂ© national assembly national front nations unies nato nazis neo-french netanyahu nethanyahu new emerging powers new york new york review of books new york times nicolas sarkozy nixon noĂ«l nobel noirs north america norvĂ¨ge nouvel observateur november 13 NPA nuclĂ©aire obama occident occupation odessa oliganthropie olmert olp onfray onu opinion orban orient orthodoxes oslo otan ottomans pacifisme pahlavi paix pakistan palestine palestinians palestiniens palin panislamisme pape paradigme paradigmes paris paritĂ© parlement europĂ©en partition pĂ©tain pĂ©trole pence peres peripheral france perses peste antonine peste de justinien petraeus peuple juif pew pipes PLO pogrom pogroms poland police politique poll pologne pompidou populism portugal poutine prĂ©sidentielle prĂ©sidentielles premier tour presidential election primaires primaries printemps arabe processus de paix proche-orient prophĂ¨te proportional representation protestantisme PS pundak putin qaradawi quai d'orsay quartiers quenelle qumran rabbis rabin racism rahm emanuel raid rajoy rasmussen rĂ©formĂ©s rĂ©formes rĂ©fugiĂ©s rĂ©publicains rĂ©volution reagan refugees regional elections religieux religion rempart renaud camus republican pacts republicans restaurants revolution right riots riyad rogers romains romney ron paul roosevelt roquette rosenfeld rouhani royal royaume-uni russia russie rwanda sadate sahara salafistes salem al-fayed sanctuaire du rocher sandler santorum sarah halimi sarkozy saudi arabia savir sĂ©golĂ¨ne royal sĂ©nat sĂ©pharades scandale SCO SDN seconde guerre mondiale security council selden senate shafik shalit shalom akhshav shamir sharon shas shoah sionisme sionistes socialist socialists sociĂ©tĂ© society sondages soral soviet union spcj ss staline state nobility state of emergency statism stratĂ©gie strauss-kahn strikes subworlds succession sunnites sweden sykes-picot synagogue syria syrie tahrir tardieu tariq ramadan taubira tel-aviv terre d'israĂ«l terror terrorism terrorisme thatcher the west time tocqueville torah totalitarisme toulouse tourisme travaillistes trevidic tribus trilatĂ©rale truman trump tsahal tsipras tunisie turkey turquie tv ue uk ukraine UMP un unesco union europĂ©enne union pour la mĂ©diterranĂ©e united nations united states unrwa URSS US usa valeurs actuelles valeurs judĂ©o-chrĂ©tiennes valls vatican vĂ©drine ve rĂ©publique versailles veto vichy vietnam violence walter laqueur war washington washington post wastelands west wilson women wright yellow vests yemen zacharie zapatero
Sunday, November 4 2012
First Amendment, French Style
Some French media don’t even care to report about Romney’s campaign. And they think they know about press freedom.
PARIS - During breakfast this morning, I listened to RTL, one of France’s major radio channels (my wife’s choice, not mine). There was a quick report on the impending U.S. presidential election.
“Yesterday, we followed Barack Obama’s campaign,” a young woman said. “Today we turn to Mitt Romney’s campaign.” All right. Except that “following Romney’s campaign” amounted, incredibly, to an interview with a certain Dr. Gordon, who explained that most Americans were grateful to President Obama for having introduced Obamacare. Especially those women who otherwise would have been deprived of any access to birth control. Some journalist at RTL then explained that Romney would abolish Obamacare. And the report was over.
Most listeners, I am afraid, just swallowed the story whole and didn’t even understand there was something problematic about it.
The bottom line, indeed, is that almost everybody in France is convinced that Obama is good and Romney is bad. According to a GlobeScan/PIPA poll conducted in 21 countries and released on October 22, 72% of the French support Obama in the November 6 election, the highest figure in a largely pro-Obama survey. According to an earlier Pew report, America’s popularity in France rose under Obama from 42% in 2008 to 69%. One may entertain some reservation at the way these polls were conducted, and wonder whether some figures were not a bit inflated. But it is true that Obama is popular in most countries, and immensely popular in France.
Sympathy for Obama is rooted in the deepest layers of the French collective psyche, right and left. He is supposed to stand for a tame, less dominant, less assertive America; and France, like many other former great powers — from Russia to China, from the Hispanic realms to the Islamic Umma — is driven by resentment against Anglo-Saxon dominance at large, and American great power in particular. That was, after all, Charles de Gaulle’s core political legacy (much more than the need to tame Germany) and the not-so-secret rationale for his Faustian alliance with both communism (Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese) and Islam.
In the 1960s, when de Gaulle actually presided over France, a sizable part of the French opinion understood that a powerful America had in fact helped France to be reborn, to remain free in the face of communism, and even to become a great power again (just like Germany or Japan). That current never materialized into a sustaining political force, however, and it gradually ebbed away.
But collective psychology may not be enough by itself. Sympathy for Obama as the symbol of a declining America has to be constantly reactivated, even in France. And here we come to another point. The French are arguably the easiest Western nation to be brainwashed. Not that France is exactly a police state or one-party regime. It is just a statist state, where most media (including those which are supposed to be private or privatized) are under either the direct or indirect supervision of the state meritocracy (or “state nobility,” as the ultra-left philosopher Pierre Bourdieu used to call it), i.e., the nation’s ruling class : a Janus-like Leviathan with both a conservative-Gaullist face and a left-wing-Gaullist face.
Most journalists learn that in order to survive and succeed within such an environment, they must abide by the following unwritten cultural and political codes: political correctness, of course, at least up to a point; corporative loyalty; and, above all, quiet acquiescence to the state nobility’s dominance, agenda, and geopolitics. When, in addition, you have only state-run universities and research institutes, run by coteries, and almost no independent foundations, you are coming close to an Orwellian, all-pervasive control system.
Citizens, however, do no get the point. They think their media are in fact free and that their journalists are usually honest and courageous. Again, it has to do with age-old traditions and delusions.
The French do not believe in unfree systems because they were quite free under what is portrayed as the most unfree period of their history, the Old Regime. Until 1789, the king was theoretically an absolute monarch, free to issue laws and orders at will. However, he had to win the support of almost everybody in the nation, a situation which led to global paralysis and eventually to revolution. Theoretically, publishers and journalists were scrutinized and controlled by the king’s agents. In fact, “illegal” pamphlets or satiric writings circulated quite freely, and had to be taken in account. Hence the famous saying: “France is an absolute monarchy limited by satirical songs.”
Lessons from the Old Regime were not lost to the really authoritarian rulers that dominated France later on, from Napoleon, the military dictator turned emperor, to the Gaullist-elected dynasty of “republican monarchs.” They understood that a measure of “song,” of apparent freedom, would make their rule palatable. Real freedom has to do with habeas corpus, property, and the Bill of Rights. Freedom, French style, is essentially sticking to 18th century novelists’ standards, from Marquis de Sade to Les Liaisons Dangereuses: the freedom not to go to church on Sunday and the freedom to cheat on one’s wife or husband. Enforce “French freedom” — church not being relevant anyore, only sex is at stake — and nobody will bother you about real freedom.
Now the French media and indeed the French political class know how to feed the naive French citizenry with unending love, romance, and hard sex stories. What really mattered in France when François Hollande, the socialist leader, was elected president last June was the ongoing fighting between his ex-companion and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, herself a presidential candidate in 2007, and his current companion, Valerie Trierweiler: a tale of jealousy, hatred, and near hysteria. That “Ladies’ War” (“Guerre des Dames”) sold better than anything narrowly political.
The French were then feeling as if they lived in the freest nation in the world. Why bother, then, to report Mitt Romney’s electoral campaign in a truthful fashion?
© Michel Gurfinkiel & PJMedia, 2012
Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)