Born in 1972, Eric Maurice has a Master’s degree in the History of International Relations from the Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, and graduated from the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris. His graduate research dealt with the United Nations and the question of nationalism in Europe. A journalist for the weekly Courrier International since 2000, he follows French and North American current events through the international press, particularly foreign politics in Washington since September 11, 2001, as well as the European and international politics of France.
1° FRANCE AND THE US : LOVE, HATE AND MISUNDERSTANDING THROUGH THE PRESS OF THE TWO NATIONS.
Imperialist, ultra-liberal, devoid of culture: This image of the U.S. has always been fairly repulsive to the French. For their part, Americans consider France to be economically, politically and socially behind, a country which cannot be trusted, a country where it’s nice to live despite the presence of the French.
These underlying clichés throughout their common history reemerge with each new crisis between the two countries. They are then propelled by the media and intellectuals, who transform a political disagreement into an attack against the very identity of a people thought to be a friend. The latest example, and perhaps the most blatant, revealed itself in the weeks preceding and following the war in Iraq. Be it the 2004 presidential campaign in the U.S. or the 2005 campaign for the European constitutional referendum in France, the two countries use each other to win votes.
From here, several questions can be asked. To what extent have manipulative means been employed to spur these outbreaks of anti-Americanism and Francophobia? What do they reveal about the profound feelings of the French and the Americans toward one another? What questions do they raise about the role and the responsibility of the media?
2° MEDIAS AND CHAUVINISM: THE ROLE OF THE PRESS IN SUPPORTING GOVERNMENT INTERESTS AND BOOSTING PARTRIOTISM.
For as long as mass media has existed, press campaigns, censorship and information manipulation have also existed. But this phenomenon becomes worrisome when it concerns western democracies which are not directly affected by war and where the information comes from several sources.
In France, the issue of the independence of the American media with regard to political power and patriotism arose after the September 11 attacks and during the war in Iraq. Has the American media really renounced its integrity and abandoned its mission? Certain media sources, notably The New York Times and The Washington Post, have published a mea culpa. But, where are we today in France, and in all other western democracies? What lesson can be learned from the affair in Iraq?