The French Presidential Election and the Press

If you thought the American press was unfair, unbiased, and stupid in the way it covers our political system, wait until you see how it’s handling the French elections. The reporters are not even pretending any more, consider this quote from the Associated Press from a story about the French presidential run off election (which is scheduled for this Sunday):

“France is about to have a president like no other: either Marine Le Pen, a far-right populist or Emmanuel Macron, a brainy upstart who’s daring the French to gamble on a startup-style new political construction.”

In other words, it’s a contest between a fascist and an innovative, fresh voice of change. Keep in mind, the AP isn’t taking sides, they’re just bashing one candidate and celebrating the other.

And it’s not just the AP, every American news outlet does the same. On television and in print, Le Pen is always in everywhere described as “far-right”, her name rarely appears without that term attached; but it is never defined in any way. That’s because “far-right” is not a description, but instead an attack or slur meant to invoke images of goose-stepping soldiers and violence. It’s a way to make someone unacceptable in a single phrase; it’s an attempt to shut down the conversation, rather than starting one. 

But is Le Pen actually “far-right”? Well not in economics or social policy either. She wants to keep religion out of public life in France. In America, she might be called center-left, except for one thing: Le Pen is skeptical of France’s current immigration and refugee policies. For that one thing, she’s attacked as a dangerous fascist, where none of her critics actually debate the topic with her. It would take facts and preparation, and they very well might lose that argument. Instead they call her names and hope that’s enough to kill her candidacy. 

And with the help of a mindless and compliant press (here and there), it might be enough this time, but not forever because at some point voters in France will demand a voice in the matter as they will here too someday. Sooner rather than later. 

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