The defense of Nicolas Hulot was much less original than its whale tail pendant. It was the now famous media tribunal, “Justice moves in the media”, “It’s a whole system that is losing its mind”, “Journalists are not prosecutors”.
The refrain of the media tribunal, we hear it every time, always with the same vagueness. It blithely mixes any word on a social network with surveys from solid journalists. Since you can write anything on the internet, then journalists would also write anything.
People who evoke the media court, it looks like they are at the grocery store: come on, you will pack all this for me in the big media court bag, and you will add a pinch of “They all lie” and a lot of “I am the real victim”.
Was this pendant a not very subtle way of reminding me, “I’m trying to save the planet?” | BFMTV screenshot via YouTube
I hope that the broadcast of report by “Special Envoy” will demonstrate this: a serious journalistic investigation has special credibility and should have nothing to do with the catch-all phrase “media tribunal”.
I trust journalists
This is also what Marine Turchi describes in her excellent book published on November 10, Lack of proof. It is obvious that when Mediapart or “Special Envoy” releases an investigation into accusations of sexual violence, I trust them, because I know that all precautions have been taken.
Because, yes, journalists take precautions. We do not come out of such accusations like that, for the fun of it. Journalists know that this will have a lasting impact on the lives of many people. So they (they are often women on these subjects) take their time to work meticulously. Often months. Regarding Nicolas Hulot, Virginie Vilar worked there since four years.
It is understandable, by the way in which the testimonies against Nicolas Hulot are told, that the journalists sought as many contextual details as possible to be able to verify them. Similarly, Marine Turchi explains the time she spent investigating the accusations of Adèle Haenel against Christophe Ruggia.
It is interesting, because it is precisely one of the points of argument of Nicolas Hulot. There’s no proof, there can’t be, that was too long ago. He seems to be talking about physical evidence, such as bruises, DNA, etc.
Moreover, in the report of “Special Envoy”, the voice-over specifies that “The facts are unverifiable”. But journalists check everything else to judge whether a story is credible: dates, places, written and vocal exchanges. The arrangement of furniture. The witnesses who were able to see the interested parties together. Relatives who can describe a change in attitude. The psychological help that the victims were able to request at the material time. And there, again, for each person, the places, the dates, the traces. It is a huge job. Check everything and cross-check.
And then, as in the case of Nicolas Hulot, there is another element of proof: it is the number of victims who testify – as well as the concordance between their accounts. Faced with this, Nicolas Hulot affirms that “The number does not make the truth”. However, yes. At least in part. That there are several women who testify obviously gives credibility to an investigation. It also makes it possible to understand that it is not just a question of once, on the occasion of a meeting during which there would have been a “misunderstanding”.
Feeling of impunity
What we see is first of all an immense feeling of impunity – as well for Patrick Poivre d’Arvor than for Nicolas Hulot. Then it’s because it’s a pattern that the author repeats on purpose – since it works.
But there are different practices in different newspapers, and it’s also interesting. Thus, in her book, Marine Turchi quotes the head of the Parisian police-justice service, Damien Delseny, who explains that he does not publish a testimony, even credible, if there is no complaint.
Mediapart and “Special Envoy” make a different choice. Notably because the media coverage of these cases, relaying them through the press, is also what allows other victims to speak out. Other victims in other cases – or, as in the case of Nicolas Hulot or Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, other victims of the same man.
It is also important to keep in mind that many surveys go unpublished. Not strong enough, not enough consistent elements. In this small professional environment, we hear about investigations that will not succeed. This is the proof of a certain requirement – even if it can give rise to the reproach “the journalists knew and did not say anything”.
Denial of skills
In fact, what users of the expression “media tribunal” are saying is that this sexual violence is not a journalistic topic. That they should only be resolved in court. That there is no matter for article. How to determine what is a journalistic subject or not? Telling reality seems to me to be a journalistic mission. It is only by bearing witness to this reality of sexual violence that we will achieve a collective awareness of the problem. Sexual violence is a political issue. In this sense, if we want to make things happen, if we want to fight against this violence, we have to designate them in the public arena.
Marine Turchi also underlines that, in the event that the accused person attacks a media for defamation, “Justice rules, beyond the truth of the facts, on the“ good faith ”of the work of the journalist, who must fulfill five requirements: the legitimacy of the aim pursued (the information must be of public interest), the seriousness of the investigation (which must be based on a factual basis and verifications), the absence of personal animosity, moderation in expression and respect for the adversarial (the parties involved must have been contacted) “. The remarkable work of “Special Envoy” meets all of these criteria. And that is what we demand of journalists.
This text appeared in Titiou Lecoq’s weekly newsletter.