I saw this post from the Pooping Parisian, and bought the book recommended by “W”. Since I was trapped on the plane, I had some time to dig through the French. Here’s a quick translation (bad, just like my French) of the back cover blurb in the box below.
This fellow Alain Hertoghe is a reporter who covered the 1991 Iraq war and the 2000 US election, and was the edotir-in-chief for the website connected with the French Catholic daily La Croix. Until he wrote this book, which got him fired.
Recall the spring of 2003. The U.S. and Great Britain are invading Iraq to drive Saddam Hussein from power. The French daily papers are predicting a quagmire, a savage resistance by the Republican Guard, an unprecedented humanitarian disaster. American deaths were to be counted in the thousands, Iraqis in dozens of thousands.
When, contrary to these somber prognostications, the American army appeared at the gates of Baghdad in less than 15 days, the French daily press with one voice announced the beginning of a new Stalingrad…which, as everbody knows, didn’t happen.
This much is clear: The unanimity of the newspapers was equal to their blindness. Consciously or unconsciously, aligning with the Élysée and Quai d’Orsay’s antiwar positions, their judgement obscured by Schadenfreude (the pleasure one secretly feels at seeing someone else’s disaster), they forgot the most elementary rules of journalism.
Alain Hertoghe has deciphered the way that five French dailies (Le Monde, Libération, Le Figaro, Le Croix and Ouest-France) covered the Iraq war. He lists their contradictions and their outrageous hype, and recounts from the inside how the press’ role is not to choose a side or play kingmaker, but simply to describe and explain reality.
(I have no idea what jouer les pythies means, but “kingmaker” sounds right.)
So, anyway. The book is a recounting of the three weeks of the war, and shows what each paper published in the headlines, articles, and editorial pages. It’s pretty damning, actually.
The book is in French, and there isn’t a translation available as far as I know. So here’s your world exclusive.
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