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'Money for nothing and content for free'. Study on news funding, NRW. Photo credit: Mika Baumeister
Marseille

Inquisition, cyberstalking and cancel culture in journalism during a pandemic

And the mainstream media has been hooked on "fact-checking" which acts as a fig leaf for the current crisis in journalism.

Published: July 23, 2021, 12:15 pm

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    It was in Munich, in 1971, that the journalists’ unions from the six countries then constituting the European common market (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) adopted the “Declaration of the duties and rights of journalists” at the initiative of a French journalist, Paul Parisot (1917-2007).

    The latter, elected president of the Syndicat des Journalistes Français in 1964, became one of the main architects of the creation of the National Union of Journalists’ unions in 1966 and finally the Munich Declaration five years later. Rereading this founding text 50 years later, highlights the depredations of journalism.

    In its preamble, the Munich Declaration begins by affirming that “the right to information, to free expression and to criticism is one of the fundamental freedoms of every human being”, that this “right of the public to know the facts and opinions” determines “all the duties and rights of journalists” and that all this “takes precedence over any other responsibility, in particular towards their employers and the public authorities”.

    Parisot himself notably led a fight against the growing influence of the politician and press boss Robert Hersant (1920-1996), whose media companies are now largely owned by the Dassault group.

    This Munich Declaration sets out the 10 duties that “every journalist worthy of the name” must respect, including:

    Defend the freedom of information, commentary and criticism
    Not to use unfair methods to obtain information
    To oblige to respect the private life of the people
    Rectify any published information which proves to be inaccurate
    Refrain from plagiarism, slander, defamation, unfounded accusations as well as receiving any advantage as a result of the publication or deletion of information
    Never confuse the profession of journalist with that of advertiser or propagandist; not to accept any instructions, direct or indirect, from advertisers
    Accept editorial instructions only from those responsible for the editorial staff

    The least that can be said is that many of these virtuous principles have been totally forgotten during the “health crisis” over the past year and a half, and that the two great prejudices of the founders of modern journalism (awareness of government propaganda and the influence of “money powers“) have all but disappeared.

    It is not for nothing that the most prestigious of the prizes coveted by any self-respecting journalist was the Albert Londres Prize, named after the man who, in the 1920s, was one of the very first to reveal the reality of the Bolshevik regime, French convicts in Guyana and the mentally ill in metropolitan asylums.

    Today, print journalism is practiced almost exclusively in an office by shameless sycophants with a computer, an internet connection and a mobile phone. Worse still, as the media treatment of the health crisis shows, is that the “reputed” press has indulged in an unprecedented advertising campaign for Big Pharma, its lackeys in government, as well exhibited gross neglect in particular in the coverage of scientific controversies related to vaccine injuries, child vaccination campaigns and the case for lockdowns.

    Contemporary journalism is in deep crisis and one of the reasons is the upheaval of its traditional economic model. The arrival of the Internet saw advertising revenues collapse. This situation, which places journalists in a relationship of double dependence on the billionaires who own the titles and the state that helps them operate – the GAFA ecosystem (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) – has been the downfall of the profession.

    In France, the agency AFP is the main source of information for all French media. Thanks to funding from Facebook, AFP has developed a service called “AFP Factual”, which represents more than 30 journalists worldwide, with more than 200 articles published per month.

    The great controversy that surrounded the IHU in Marseille and its director Didier Raoult illustrates the point. No one bothered to ask this accomplished epidemiologist about what should be done to best manage the epidemic. Instead they attacked his personality, his funding sources and his success in treating seriously ill patients.

    The media treatment of the IHU in Marseille revealed that almost all of the journalists who spoke about it had either never set foot there, or had only seen the director’s office. And this is not trivial, because Raoult runs a public institution bringing together a hospital and several research centers where hundreds of people work and study. Not knowing anything about it can obviously only contribute to misrepresenting his viewpoint or fueling the most ridiculous fantasies.

    The very rare Parisian journalists who took the trouble to see what was really going on have moreover written a very different story. But it is well-known in France that Raoult had contradicted a global biopharmaceutical company, Sanofi’s discourse. And so-called “fact checking” is no more than a sham of journalism amounting to lecturing the public rather than criticizing power.

    So-called “scientific” journalists relayed the idea that Raoult’s drug of choice, hydroxychloroquine, was a dangerous or even deadly drug, which in fact constitutes one of the biggest lies observed during this crisis. The same unfair treatment by the “scientific” press was seen with Ivermectin at the beginning of 2021, even when it is probably the most effective drug of all. Doctor Gérard Maudrux has shown this by closely examining the way in which these mainstream journalists treated the case of India.

    This week, Israel, one of the most vaccinated countries, announced that the efficacy of Pfizer vaccine was down to only 39 percent protection against a Covid infection in the last month. The manufacturers however repeatedly claimed that it was over 90 percent for their product. Despite this, a French advisor to the government this week declared: “It will be supremacy for the vaccinated and a life of shit for the unvaccinated.”

    Those who pose as “journalists” in the mainstream press also know that shouting “conspiracy”, “populism” or “extreme right” nourish the Manichean categories on which the financial and political powers rely today.

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