Le Prejugé de Presse: Anti-Sarkozy Bias in the AFP

Anti-conservative bias in the media is not unique to America. Agence France-Presse (AFP) practically portrayed French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy as a modern day, Gallic incarnation of Nero, fiddling while France burns (emphasis mine).:

France's next president Nicolas Sarkozy holidayed Tuesday in Malta ahead of launching a radical reform programme, while back home cities across the country were hit by more violent "anti-Sarko" protests.

A few paragraphs later, the AFP article --bearing the loaded headline "Sarkozy rests as France braces for reform -- continued to hold Sarkozy in a sinister light.:

Sarkozy, who has relentlessly manoeuvred his way to power over the past five years, had pre-planned the break to recover from his gruelling campaigning and to mentally ready himself for France's highest office.

His election triumph however sparked protests against the country, many of them violent, which began late Sunday night and continued Monday night.

The flare-ups echoed Royal's pre-poll warning that a Sarkozy victory could see the country slide into unrest.

Notice the implication here. The "relentless," power-hungry Sarkozy won office, setting the streets over the edge, just as the defeated Royal prophesied. Of course, 53 percent of the French public voted for him, but that's no matter to the AFP, which sees France as "bracing" for the impact of his domestic political agenda.

AFP went on to report that the "situation recalled the three weeks of rioting that flared in poor French suburbs in October and November 2005," but failed to note anything else about the rioters, including that most of them were Muslim immigrants. Indeed, no consideration for the role radical Islam or anti-assimilationist sentiment plays into these riots was given in the AFP article.

Instead the AFP saw the 2005 riots as another opportunity to toss in another loaded label for Sarkozy, describing him as "then a hardline interior minister who described delinquent youths in such areas as 'rabble.'"

But again, what's unusual or extreme there? Police officials in any country would and should be disgusted by days on end of mindless rioting, property destruction, arson, and general mayhem. Calling rioters "rabble" or "scum" is hardly a "hardline" or authoritarian reaction. It's a human one.

Related NB post by Clay Waters: "NYT: Will Sarkozy's 'Divisive Legislation' Lead to More Violence in France?"

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters