Mayor Hidalgo has promised to “save Paris’ honor” in light of comments made by Rupert Murdoch’s media company Fox News during the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Reports claimed that there were parts of Paris that non-Muslims were not allowed to enter, known as “no-go zones.” The Paris City Council has now voted in favor of taking legal action against the network.
The network also broadcasted images showing a map of the French capital, with certain sections circled in red, indicating the alleged no-go zones.
“The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced,” Hidalgo told CNN. That network had also fallen into the no-go zone trap, when anchor Anderson Cooper failed to challenge his guest’s mention of the fictional districts.
The notion of such zones is flagrantly false, and is just the latest example of exaggerated reporting from a network known for its puffed-up, conservative rhetoric. Fox was widely criticized for the report by other media networks. They also took heat for similar comments which described the English city of Birmingham as “totally Muslim.”
According to a 2011 census, only 22% of the population of Birmingham identifies as Muslim, but that’s beside the point.
The misleading reports began with football-tossing, Johnny-American loving, Sean Hannity.
“They have no-go zones,” he said on his program. “If you’re non-Muslim, you’re not allowed. Not police, not even fire department if there’s a fire. Sharia courts have been allowed to be established. Prayer rugs in just about every hotel.”
From where, exactly, Hannity pulled this information is anybody’s guess. Even if a group of radical Muslims managed to gain some semblance of control over a few square blocks of Paris, it’s hard to imagine anyone turning away fire trucks if that territory were ablaze. But again, that’s beside the point.
From Hannity, the story spread like, well, fire. Analyst Steve Emerson picked up the sound bite and ran with it.
“And they’re places where the governments, like France, Britain, Sweden, Germany – they don’t exercise any sovereignty so you basically have zones where Sharia courts are set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where police don’t go in.”
After heavy criticism, Fox apologized for the report. But Mayor Hidalgo maintains that such defamation tarnishes the reputation of her city, a major tourist destination.
With the lawsuit on approach, a law firm representing Fox News say they fully intend to fight in support of free speech.
“The decision by the City of Paris to bring legal proceedings against a United States news organization is antithetical to free speech,” wrote attorneys Dori Ann Hanswirth of the Hogan Lovells law firm. The statement was released through the accused network. “Fox News will invoke every protection afforded it under all applicable laws.”
The gloves are coming off. We’re not sure how Fox News will cover the proceedings, but it may want to tread lightly.