French Satirical News Show Only The Most Recent to Skewer Fox News


Yann Barthès, the host of “Le Petit Journal,” a mock news show that satirized Fox News for its reporting on “no-go zones” for non-Muslims. CreditCapucine Granier-Deferre for The New York Times

The show, “Le Petit Journal,” is a French version of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” — irreverent and reliant on mock correspondents who showcase the foibles of the high and mighty.

Usually “Le Petit Journal” reserves its venom for French politicians and the local news media. But in the days after the terrorist attacks in Paris that left 17 dead, including 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, it set its sights on a trans-Atlantic target, America’s Fox News, after the channel claimed that swaths of England and France were ruled according to Shariah.

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One episode of “Le Petit Journal” featured fake Fox News correspondents screaming about the dangers to be found on the streets and in the kebab shops of Paris. CreditCanal+

“It’s more effective than being upset,” Mr. Barthès said.

On Saturday, Fox News apologized four times on the air for its reports about the no-go zones, acknowledging that there was no reason to believe that they existed. It called the reports an “error” and apologized to “any and all,” including “the people of France.”

It is hard to say whether the apologies were the result of “Le Petit Journal’s” mockery; a campaign instigated by the program to inundate Fox News with emails; or Fox News’s realization that its reporting, which reinforced a popular conservative warning about a purported spread of Shariah in the Western world, was wrong.

In a statement Monday, Michael Clemente, an executive vice president at the network, said: “We issued a correction and apology across several platforms, so that any viewers who may have tuned in to the earlier programming would have a chance to hear our corrected reporting.”

Before the apologies, Mr. Barthès and his “correspondents” hounded Fox News, which is not widely available on French television. Mr. Barthès’s show, which has about 3 million viewers and follows in the satirical tradition of Charlie Hebdo, but in a much gentler style, showed generous portions of the Fox clips where the no-go zones were discussed, providing French translations.

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Mr. Barthès reviewed his script in his dressing room before going on stage. He has hosted the show since it began in 2004.CreditCapucine Granier-Deferre for The New York Times

Their comics confronted Fox News correspondents when they spotted them reporting live in Paris. In one video, two of the show’s correspondents pretended to be American journalists venturing into supposedly forbidden areas and, in slapstick fashion, cowering by a Turkish kebab shop and a couscous restaurant and falling to the ground at the sound of a jackhammer.

Representatives of “Le Petit Journal” also showed up at the New York offices of Fox News on Thursday to seek comment, Mr. Barthès said, until security turned them away.

The theme was picked up by others on social media who expressed mock horror at the “danger” in Paris. A food guide site mapped the best places to dine in the so-called lawless zones, including a bakery where the owner had won awards for baguettes.

The commotion began this month when Steve Emerson, identified as a terrorism expert, told the host Sean Hannity, “there are no-go zones” throughout Europe ruled by Muslims. He then elaborated in an interview with another Fox host, Jeanine Pirro, claiming that the entire city of Birmingham, England, was a place where “non-Muslims simply don’t go in.”

On the day the Charlie Hebdo attackers were killed, Nolan Peterson, who on his website describes himself as a freelance writer and a combat veteran, went on Fox News on and identified what he called 741 Muslim-dominated “no-go zones” around France and said the areas reminded him of his time in Afghanistan and Iraq.Even the British prime minister, David Cameron, reacted to the Birmingham claim, saying, “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge.” He called Mr. Emerson “an idiot.”

Muslim leaders say that Muslims are often the victims of attacks, especially since the Paris killings, which were carried out by Islamic militants. The head of a French organization known as the National Observatory Against Islamophobia called for protection by the state, saying there had been “116 anti-Muslim acts, including 28 incidents at mosques and 88 threats,” in the two days after the Jan. 7 shooting.

Fox was abject in its apologies, as was Mr. Emerson. Julie Banderas, a Fox anchor, said that “over the course of this last week, we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France.”

“Now this applies especially to discussions of so-called no-go zones, areas where non-Muslims allegedly are not allowed in and police supposedly won’t go,” Ms. Banderas continued. “To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.”

Apologies were issued on-air three other times.

Carly Shanahan, a spokeswoman for Fox News in New York, said the communications office never received a query by telephone or email from “Le Petit Journal.” Mr. Barthès said the show had made repeated attempts, including his own emails.

Mr. Barthès said he was not sure whether his show could take credit for the apologies. “The important thing is that we really had fun,” Mr. Barthès said. “It’s important for the French audience to know about this. They don’t really know Fox News, and they think it’s an enormous channel, very American, with announcers with big voices and blonde women who look like Barbies.”

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One Comment on “French Satirical News Show Only The Most Recent to Skewer Fox News”

  1. XAVLENAZE January 27, 2015 at 14:14 #

    Fox News is a shamefull network ! They care only about carrying their political message. They don’t and never will care about objective, serious news, issued by real journalists. Stop watching those kind of political propaganda and think for yourselves. Freedom of speech and thinking has no limits, because you’ll always find someone who feels shocked ! Remember this phrase : “I disagree with your opinions, but I would die to defend them !”

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