To Our Readers: Investigating Misinformation

QWhen an industrial accident occurs, the first thing to do is to analyze the causes and determine the circumstances of the disaster. The publication on June 22 on the website of the Point of an article wrongly accusing the deputies Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbière of employing a cleaning lady of Algerian origin in an irregular situation obliges us to go further than the excuses which accompanied the withdrawal of this article, less than twenty- four hours after it was posted. ” Everything is false “, had reacted in a press release the two personalities in question – spouses in the city and deputies of La France insoumise (LFI) of Seine-Saint-Denis – two hours after the publication of the paper which incriminated them unjustly. Everything was false, indeed, and we owe you, dear readers, an explanation: what happened?

This fiasco is the result, among other things, of double-trigger smoking. External smoking, first. People probably tried to sell a false story to discredit Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbière. It is difficult not to wonder about the temporality of all this. The subject was first raised on June 7, a few days before the legislative elections in which Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbière participated. At this stage, no hypothesis, including that of an attempt at electoral manipulation, can be ruled out.

For a week and the withdrawal of the article, the drafting of the Point investigation on this subject. Following our investigations, in a video posted Tuesday, June 28 on Facebook, a man, Noam Anouar (also known as Noam Bouhadjela), admitted to having put Aziz Zemouri, the author of the false article, on the trail of this affair which turned out to be false. This seconded police officer is now employed as coordinator of the local security and crime prevention contract, in the city’s political department, at the town hall of Drancy (Seine-Saint-Denis), whose mayor is Aude Lagarde – wife of Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the opponent (beaten) of Raquel Garrido in the legislative elections, in the 5 e constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis. In the municipal elections of 2020, Noam Anouar appeared on a union list led to Mitry-Mory (Seine-et-Marne) by the UDI Laurent Prugneau. He recently collaborated with the channel Le Média, close to La France insoumise – on February 26 he wrote a column entitled “Something rotten in our Republic”. In a tweet of February 6, 2020, the Insoumis MP François Ruffin saluted his “exemplary behavior”after having accompanied him, as a witness, before a disciplinary council of the police headquarters, where he appeared for “breach of the duty of loyalty” and “reserve”, after his very critical positions on the police.

Denied. The response of the two elected officials to the article in the “Point”, on June 22.

1656514068 386 To Our Readers Investigating Misinformation
Apologies. The tweet from Étienne Gernelle, director of “Le Point”, accompanying the withdrawal of the article. Message also published on our site.

This particular work, which consists of carrying out a counter-investigation on an “investigation” published in its own newspaper, seemed essential to us. We follow the example of others who, before us, have done so with honesty and courage: the New York Times, in 2003, with the Jayson Blair affair, named after this journalist who was mistaken for plagiarism and fakery, to which the newspaper devoted a very long article; the washington post, in 1981, which made amends after one of its journalists, Janet Cooke, won the Pulitzer Prize for a gripping but fabricated report on an 8-year-old child addicted to heroin; the prestigious German weekly Der Spiegel, in 2018, of which a reporter had “imagined” a report in Syria – and other articles -, carried out the investigation himself to establish the truth. Closer to home, let us remember the transparency demonstrated by The Parisianafter the case of the fake Dupont de Ligonnès, a track on which five different sources had led him in 2019. Let us remember the sincerity of AFP’s denial – “a debacle, a huge mistake” -, after the erroneous announcement of the death of Martin Bouygues, in 2015. Let us quote again the mea culpa to which our colleagues from the chained duck, when they are wrong, in their famous section “Pan sur le bec”. This is not the case for everyone, far from it.

Recognizing your mistakes is essential. We also owe it to our readers to ask ourselves about the conditions under which our article was published. This is the internal part of the investigation. Embarked by a source that he considered reliable, our collaborator did not have in any case either the documents or the elements that he claimed, with his hierarchy, to hold. At Point as with most titles, the decision to publish is also based on a principle of trust. In the present case, the identity check which, according to Aziz Zemouri, had constituted the starting point of his “investigation” cannot be proven. He did not have in his possession the police report in which the fake employee of the Garrido-Corbière couple was supposed to have told her story. Likewise, the screenshots of the text messages – which we now know are not authentic – allegedly exchanged between the fake employee and Raquel Garrido were not taken directly from her mobile phone. They were a rough montage that Internet users were quick to dismantle, after their publication on the author’s Twitter account. He also said that he had met the alleged domestic worker twice (with whom he exchanged more than 300 messages between June 2 and June 23), before acknowledging that these meetings had not taken place. If he had told the truth about the documents he claimed to have and how he had obtained them, his article would not have been published.

Which in no way prevents us from coming to this central question: have our internal control processes failed? The answer is yes. The fact that such a fiasco could occur is enough to order that we review them in depth. We have begun important work in this direction, drawing inspiration from the methods of the American press but also, in France, from the chained duck.

In the meantime, and faced with this crisis situation which obliges him to provide all possible explanations to his readers, Point responds by doing journalism as always. We will report, in the pages of the weekly and on our website, of the results of our investigations into this machination, its authors, their methods and their motivations.

It is easier to grant or maintain one’s confidence in someone who knows how to recognize their faults, and this also applies to newspapers. When we are wrong, we recognize it frankly. We owe you honesty, which requires admitting mistakes. We also owe it to you to continue the investigation.§ Point

AFP – Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via AFP

We wish to thank the writer of this post for this amazing web content

To Our Readers: Investigating Misinformation