Sunday, January 22, 2017

Distorting the News

I imagine that The New York Times was offering Alyssa Rubin's article  about the political situation in France as news analysis. By her lights the old socialist left is about to suffer an abysmal defeat in upcoming presidential elections. She sees formerly socialist voters gravitating to the far right, anti-Europe candidate, Marine Le Pen.

Unfortunately, Rubin has distorted the story beyond recognition. She is offering propaganda, not news analysis.

Several points stand out.

Rubin has nothing to say about France’s Muslim population. She does not even mention Islam. (As you know, some people believe that we ought to be fighting against Islamphobia, not Islamic terrorism.) French Muslims are more than 10% of the population. They cause an inordinate amount of trouble. Last summer, one of their members ran down and murdered dozens of revelers in Nice on Bastille Day. The nation was horrified and it has tended to hold the Socialist president and his party accountable. After all, 90% the votes of French Muslims went Socialist.

Rubin says that it’s partly about “anti-immigrant” anger, but she downplays the importance of immigration and the sense in France that the French are losing their country. As I said, she says nothing about Islam.

Note how she downplays the threat of immigration. And makes it appear as though the problem in France is Eastern European immigration. Obviously, she says nothing about the role that German Chancellor Angela Merkel played in precipitating the crisis.

Rubin wrote this:

Compounding the sense of a changing world, even a modest wave of immigration disturbed many local residents. Beginning about six years ago, a small number of sub-Saharan Africans arrived in Limoges, soon followed by bigger numbers of Eastern Europeans.

And she added this:

“So, here in our street, we had principally Bulgarians, afterwards Romanians and then Albanians,” Mr. Gérard said. “Why? This I know, because Europe no longer has any borders.”

At the same time, many affluent people began moving to the suburbs for bigger houses and left the city center to older people and newcomers, many of whom were migrants.

Mr. Rodet, the mayor who was toppled, said that just weeks before the election, there had been a rumor that an abandoned military base near the center of Limoges would become a home for “3,000 Kosovars.”

Rubin notes that the story was untrue. She does not mention that most Kosovars are Muslim.

Also, Rubin ignored the center-right candidate who is most likely going to become France’s next president.  She did not mention the name of Francois Fillon, a Thatcherite conservative who will likely be in a runoff against Marine Le Pen. And who will no doubt win.

Why does Rubin ignore the most obvious political reality, if not to set up a dialectic between the left and the far right. It’s called distorting the news.

Of course, Rubin wants to make the story resemble the current situation in the United States. So she says that the nation’s labor unionists are rebelling against globalization.

She does not mention the fact that France has been governed by statist politicians for decades now. She does not mention that France has a bloated public sector whose tax and regulatory policies have made it nearly impossible for French companies to compete in the world market. That is why the nation is turning toward a Francois Fillon. And she does not mention the hundreds of thousands of young French men and women who have immigrated to England, to pursue economic opportunity.

French Socialists have made it extremely difficult to do business in France. In fairness, the current president, Francois Hollande has been trying to overturn some of the labor laws that make it impossible to fire anyone. And the labor unions have been opposing his efforts. About this Rubin has nothing to say.

If you want to know the party line, Rubin offers it up: it’s all about income inequality:

Across Europe, the old Socialist blocs have fractured into smaller parties, partly because their voting bases have changed but also because rampant inequality and the decline of the middle class have created fertile ground for more extreme parties.

As you know, the standard socialist solution to income inequality is more taxes and more regulation. A good journalist would have enough integrity to present the story, warts and all. Rubin presents what amounts to a political propaganda piece that distorts reality beyond recognition and leaves Times readers choking on a fairy tale.

[One should compare the Times piece with a recent article from the Gatestone Institute. It is entitled The Islamization of France. It suggests that someone is living in an alternate reality.]

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

I suspect that le Pen's "far right" party is equivalent to the GOP's base, which the GOP dumped on.