It’s interesting as usual to compare US news outlets with reasonable ones. You can scroll half-way down the New York Times web page and find a mention of today’s French elections in the world news section, and it’s similar at other sites. Each of them has a story, almost invariably accompanied by a more-or-less flattering photo of the current president. Like the one at MSNBC they concentrate on the surprising result obtained by Marine Le Pen, one of the far-right candidates. The secondary story everywhere is Sarkozy’s poor showing in placing second. The supposedly liberal Talking Points Memo, which might be expected to pick up on left-leaning politics, currently devotes an entire paragraph to the election.
On the other hand, Reuters, the BBC, and the Guardian concentrate on the two candidates who move on to the second round. In the event, the soft-socialist candidate Hollande placed first at 28.6%, one and a half percent ahead of Sarkozy. Given the actual politics of the real situation on the ground, Hollande has to screw up pretty badly to lose. As the Beeb’s Europe editor Gavin Hewitt says, “Whereas Francois Hollande can tack to the centre, President Sarkozy must appeal to the right.” The left has united around the memory of a past election in which its disunity set up Le Pen’s more famous (and equally far right) father to enter the second and final round of voting against a center-right candidate. Le Pen herself has pointedly failed to endorse Sarkozy, while the leftist candidates, including a Communist-supported one, have openly thrown their support to Hollande.
The result, for those willing to look, is a right wing that’s fracturing into a relatively content pro-1% group and a pissed-off populist group. Sound familiar? But here we soothe our raging anger by talking about the threat to the divinities of the Market posed by someone who calls himself a Socialist though true socialists are embarrassed to vote for him. Those same divinities are fine with exaggerating the vote for Le Pen (what’s the difference, after all, between 18% and 20%?), ignoring the majority of French voters and the 80% turnout for the election, and carefully screening out the information that in other civilized countries people are rebelling against control by the 1%.
The truly big threat, understood by every US media outlet, is that Americans might start to do the same. Therefore the traditional media ignore the story.