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Storm Clouds Over Paris
A gathering storm comes to a head in Paris this week as a series of lawsuits get underway. Three individuals who criticized France-2 TV’s world-famous footage of Mohammed Dura were sued for defamation by the powerful state-owned TV company. Specifically singled out for criticism were correspondent Charles Enderlin and cameraman Talal Abu Rahma. We encourage readers to see the video at Second Draft.
Associated with the trial are many powerful and uncomfortable issues, including anti-Zionism in the French media, the icon status of Mohammed Dura, Israel’s response to the affair, the disturbingly close relationship between France’s media and political elites, the fairness of French justice, the future role of France 24 (dubbed the “French CNN” due to be launched in December), and—on a broader level—the future of French Jewry.
Pesach Benson of HonestReporting discussed the proceedings with Philippe Karsenty (pictured), the defendant in the first trial, which begins Sept. 14. Karsenty, 40, is the founder and president of Media-Ratings, a professional media analysis company based in Paris. The following is a condensed version. Click here to read the full interview.
HonestReporting: People criticize the media all the time. Why are you in legal proceedings now?
Philippe Karsenty: We have a company, Media Ratings. Our goal is to analyze the media outlets. We’re not a blog. We respect bloggers very much but we are different. We’re an established company. We’re not crazy people writing in their apartments. We treat all sorts of subjects, not just Israel. So the French establishment hates us. They consider me an insider and consider Media-Ratings dangerous.
HR: What’s the significance of this trial?
PK: The significance is that we published an article saying that Arlette Chabot, the head of the information desk at France 2 and Charles Enderlin, who narrarated the Al Dura forgery, should resign because they refused to admit that they made a mistake and to correct the information. They were very upset we published this on our web site…
HR: What led you to conclude that the video was a forgery?
PK: The cameraman (pictured left) offered the images to CNN, and they rejected it because Talal wouldn’t offer guarantees that it was legitimate. On the same day, Talal made another forgery filming fake scenes. Reuters filmed him filming other forged stories. On the first scene of the France 2 report before the child is killed, you see the scenes he filmed are fake.
They broadcast a scene where the guy was supposedly hit in the leg by a bullet but there’s no blood. People are dragging him on the sidewalk and there’s no blood. An ambulance comes, it takes two seconds from the time he’s supposedly wounded and the ambulance comes. Two seconds just doesn’t make sense, it’s too fast….
France 2 claims they have 27 additional minutes of footages. They invited two independent experts to watch the video. According to the two experts, 90 percent of those images were faked scenes.
HR: What was your criticism for which you are on trial? Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
PK: It’s a good idea to have the case on the table. This forgery was done a long time ago and the Israeli government behaved very cowardly. They refused to take steps to have this forgery corrected.
Apart from damaging the Israeli image in the world, it has given a very hard time for Jews all over the world…
HR: What does France-2 want from you? What’s at stake?
PK: They want us to be condemned for defamation. We could be condemned if the judges think our words were too strong. They could say we wrote too strongly. But it doesn’t change the fact that the video is a forgery. Even if we lose, we’ll keep on saying it’s a forgery….
If they succeed, the day we’re condemned will be a great day for them. They’ll say they were vindicated. They’ll say “We didn’t lie when we said Israeli soldiers killed Mohammed al-Dura.”
HR: What does France-2 stand to lose if you prevail?
PK: So many people supported a certain view of the world, so many people were defending Enderlin (pictured left) and Rahma, it’ll be difficult to apologize without firing hundreds of people. France TV, which owns France-2, is organizing France 24, the French CNN. They’ll do what they can to avoid apologizing.
HR: The Mohammed Dura incident was years ago. Why should anyone still care?
PK: This image is carried in everyone’s brain. Everyone thinks it’s true. Daniel Pearl was killed to avenge Dura. [Pearl’s killers] put the image in the video.
The trial will help to clean up the French media and the international media and expose the lies suffered in Lebanon….
When sportsmen take drugs, they’re kicked out. I want that the people who are giving fake stories to the public be kicked out. If people are fired, it’ll be a good deterrent for any other bad guy who would like to lie or misrepresent the truth.
HR: Do you expect a fair trial?
PK: I hope so. But nothing is sure. It’ll be a very good test to see if there is a future in France for honest, decent people. We’ll see how independent the judicial system is.
HR: What’s the relationship between France 2 and the government?
PK: France TV is owned by the government. France 2 is a subsidiary of France TV, the parent company. The CEO of France TV, Patrick de Carolis is the guy who wrote a book with the wife of Jacques Chirac [Conversation, by Bernadette Chirac]. It was a big success so they made him the head of France TV. It’s completely controlled by the state and the relationships are very strong.
HR: What would you like to tell HonestReporting readers?
PK: France cannot be ignored. It’s a small country but it’s important in terms of diplomacy and media. The French government will launch soon France 24. They call it “the French CNN”. It’ll be the voice of the French officials, dispatching ugly messages. For example, you can be sure that they’ll call the people placing car bombs in Iraq or in Israel “resistance fighters.” France can be a big trouble maker in the world because of its media and diplomatic network.
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The anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rot in organizations controlled by the French government -- like AFP -- is vile and extensive. Tragically ironic given the massive economic and cultural contributions 600,000 Jews make to French society versus the burden imposed by 6 million Muslims.
Things will only improve when corrupt Arabists like Chirac leave office and the Eurabia project begins to collapse from internal contradictions.
waw... congratulations Honest Reporting? diffusing messages ending by "France can be a big trouble maker in the world" seems useful to you? honestly, if i was french, i would be irreversibly dissapointed in 'honest' reporting.
your political conscience -if any- should understand the influence of such useless and counterproductive declarations. diffusing these remarks is even worse than saying them.
lastly, France 2 could mention Israel "can be a big trouble maker in the world" but i guess they're not that low level. Honest Reporting, again, this kind of reporting does not help anyone. try a real challenge. like getting the necessary media attention on HIV/AIDS for example
What's wromg with you walt?
Can't you even see through your anti-HonestReporting glasses that it was the interviewee, Philippe Karsenty, who said those words?
thks Disney. i do know that. my point is that, as a publisher, it is not intelligent to publish this. it is less intelligent to "diffuse these remarks than saying them"
these extreme remarks seem in fact to be published quite commonly on honest reporting. they tend to publish anything as long as it is pro-israeli. whatever its intellectual value. a mistake that affects their own intellectual credibility
what i do like about honest reporting, is that they still post my remarks ;)
I dunno Walt. Karsenty was critical of the Israeli government. More so in the full interview.
I don't expect much from the French CNN, but all those people from France-2 joining it is bad news. If they can lie about Dura, they can lie about HIV/AIDS and other legitimate issues that need more coverage.
I'm Karsenty so I'm the bad guy!
I can tell you that France 2's project to create a "CNN à la française" is very bad news for accuracy in the media.
And when I say that France can be big trouble maker in the world, I know that it's true.
What do you think about the French Foreign minister (Philippe Douste Blazy) who said this summer, during the Hizbollah war, that Iran was a "stabilizing force in the Middle-East"? What do you think about France diplomatic role during the 2003 crisis with Saddam Hussein?
What do you think about French media which explains, especially today, that 9/11 was bad but that they deserve it? They don't say it so clearly but that is what it means.
What do you think about the Resistance of the Hizbollah, the Hamas and in Iraq that you hear everyday in French media?
Chirac's France is dangerous and it's important that the US realize this problem.
"France can be big trouble maker in the world, I know that it's true"
france actually played an important role in the recent cease fire. it has engaged in humanitarian activities. far more than the US whose only concern was to provide more useless bombs
not France has been the problem, but the US part of it
Of all the Western countries, France with its overt "self-interest" policies is probably responsible for the most evil.
There is a sickness about France's democracy; I am told it derives from an elitist government and education system. However it came about, successive French governments have uniformly followed destabilising policies and these are echoed in their media.
People like Philippe Karsteny are to be commended for their honesty and courage.
Philippe, good luck with your court case. Whatever powers are helping France 2, you have already made your point and gained admiration with your perseverance. Good luck.
Sounds like they can still be hammered by the French courts simply be using too strong a language?
First, and formost, France is only concerned about one thing, the business of France. France only sees commercial interests in their involvement anywhere in the world, which is why they refused to be part of the coalition in Iraq; there was to be no spoils of war- oil profits- for France.
Secondly, France is an elitist government, and like our elitists here, is anti semetic and against Israel. France has harbored international terrorists, as long as they did not commit crimes in France, they have bred terrorists and allowed them to breed.
France is no friend or ally to any country. They only care abut themselves.
Walt, you're being naive there. France is just trying to keep its "suburban youth" quiet while playing the pro-arabian card (and don't forget next year's presidential election...).
Humanitarian activities, you're kidding me? What about Irak's oil for food program, ever heard of it? Chirac is calling for peace like Daladier did, and you praise him?
Typical Socialist thug tactics- strong-arm the independents and the State of FranceTV is "uber alles"
When sportsmen take drugs, they’re kicked out. I want that the people who are giving fake stories to the public be kicked out
Ok, let me get this straight:
France 2 publishes a faked picture that launches a worldwide intafada resulting in at least 500 deaths and rage all over the Islamic world.
HonestReporting posts a comment from a French media analyst to the effect that "France can be a big troublemaker in the world."
Walt complains that French TV is "not as low" as HonestReporting, because they never said "Israel could be a big troublemaker??????????
Walt -- FRANCE 2 POSTED THE FAKE PICTURE!!!!!! Saying "France can be a troublemaker" is a grotesque UNDERSTATEMENT. France 2 has not been a big troublemaker, it's been morally culpable to hundreds of murders.
Honestly, I cannot even begin to fathom the bizarre moral world in which fake journalism leading to worldwide rage is not as serious an infraction as saying they've been troublemakers.
without french revolution, democracy would probably not exist
vive la france
to the 'middle class guy' and his middle class argument:
"First, and formost, France is only concerned about one thing, the business of France. France only sees commercial interests in their involvement anywhere in the world, which is why they refused to be part of the coalition in Iraq; there was to be no spoils of war- oil profits- for France."
france does not go to war for business. the us does go to war for business. hmmmm......... ever heard of ethics?
write me an email for whoever wishes to discuss this further
If not for the US Army, French democracy wouldn't exist either.
edge, where would a 'pro-democratic' army come from, if democracy was never invented?
again, send me an email. easier and not reviewed by hr
Walt, I don't mind crediting France and the French Revolution with inspiring the American Revolution and other democratic movements. So what?
"crediting France and the French Revolution with inspiring the American Revolution and other democratic movements"
thks Edge. this is important as it remembers what many on this weblog like Brad Brezinsky mistakenly forget when claiming "France is probably responsible for the most evil" etc.
wonderful. now let's finally discuss what to do about global HIV/AIDS :)
"[...]france does not go to war for business. the us does go to war for business. hmmmm......... ever heard of ethics?[...]"
Well "Peace for oil" or "War for oil", I don't know what's more ethical: it might depend on who you wage war on, don't you think?
To Philippe Karsenty:
Who are you Philippe Karsenty ?
Look at your website... ( http://www.m-r.fr/ )
Read carefully what you're writing in this article, or everywhere else on Internet...
Like here for example:
(Note that the title was "Jews-Hate: France's National Sport" but has been updated later.)
Like if they feared something...
You seem to be not that different than Joseph Goebbels.
Sorry but, what you need is a psychologue.
If not a psychiatre...
Just search "Jew-Hate: France's National Sport" with google (with the ")
You'll see more than one responses...
How could the American revolution be inspired by the French revolution when it preceded it?