(Captain's log): Last November, I posted this article where I roundly condemned the magazine Paris Match for having reporters observe attempts by Iraqi insurgents to shoot down an American jet using SAMs. Somehow or other, I have no idea how, one of their reporters just stumbled on that post. He was inspired to write the following email to me:
I don't know who you are but what I just found on your web-site is really unfair and disgusting. You probably picked up the fact that our reporters were with the Iraki insurgents on the mainstream news. That is right. The fact that we were a French magazine was enough for you to spread the usual French bashing bullshit.
Now let me tell you one thing. If only you had taken the time to get a copy of the magazine, you would have found that in the same issue, we ran a eight page story + interview of Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon. That alone tells that contrarily to what you think we don't present one aspect of the story. We do journalism. Hey guys, we are not Fox News !
Regis Le Sommier
US Correspondent for Paris Match
If you liked that, you'll love this post from Jan 2003.
[In that post I speculated that one explanation for French opposition to an invasion of Iraq was to prevent exposure of treacherous French dealings with Saddam.]
Quite frankly I don't care. You have the right to your opinion about the French. The only thing I meant is when you throw things like the ones concerning the work of my collegues, please learn to read the complete story. For in the same issue, Rumsfeld granted us the first one on one interview with a European media, and no one said we were on his side or that we are helping the Pentagon.
And I just wrote back:
I'm rather appalled, but not in the least bit surprised, that you see complete moral equivalence between an interview with an official of an allied government, and observation/glorification of a direct attempt by hostiles to kill people who are from an allied nation, or at least a nation the French pretend is an ally.
I'm appalled, but not surprised, that you think that having both in the same issue of your magazine represents balance and that the presence of one excuses the presence of the other.
Even if I had known about that interview with Rumsfeld, it would not have affected my opinion, or my condemnation of the direct coverage of the attempt to shoot down an American jet. But that's just my American simplisme, I guess. I dislike people who try to kill Americans, and I despise "allies" who help them in those attempts, such as by providing publicity for their agitprop.
Your magazine has the ethical standards of a pimp.
Update: He has now responded:
Let me remember that the first journalist ever to do a story on the Iraqi insurgents was Michael Ware from Time magazine "one of the few Western journalists to have met with insurgents" according to CNN. His work was fantastic. Also you are wrong, we are not the only one to have produced the DHL story. The video version of it has been on CNN ABC, CBS amongst others. I think you are mistaking politics and journalism.
I do not intend to respond to him. There's clearly no point.
My original article discussed the source of the video material used by CNN, and showed how it was not ethically equivalent. By the same token, I seriously doubt that Ware accompanied Iraqi insurgents and observed them while they made attacks against American soldiers. It's evident that distinction is lost on Le Sommier.
In my original article, I asked whether Paris Match would have acted the same if the insurgents had been African and the anticipated targets had been French soldiers. Last November, that was a rhetorical question. But now I am not sure of the answer.
Update: Chris comments.
Update: Amish Tech Support comments.
Update: Jeff Goldstein has a peripheral comment. (Good Lord.)
Update 20040422: Oliver Willis, too, completely misses the point.
Update: For the ethically challenged, Bastard Sword explains the critical