Journalists with French TV station BFMTV have opted to cover anti-government demonstrations from the office, after a camera crew was attacked at a rally. The protesters say BFMTV peddles ‘fake news’.
On the eighth consecutive weekend of anti-government protests across France, three BFMTV journalists and their security detail were chased through the streets of Rouen, after some protesters took offense to their presence.
One of the attacked journalists told Le Parisien that the crowd turned on the team after a cameraman tried to film a protester’s banner. “30 people turned against us,” the reporter said. “Threw eggs at us and insulted us. Our security exfiltrated us with difficulty, because some demonstrators barred the road with garbage cans.”
Video footage of the fleeing journalists quickly did the rounds on social media, and other journalists jumped to the embattled team’s defense.
“The reporter in question is a friend,” wrote AFP’s Anne-Sophie Faivre Le Cadre. “Who works every weekend for a salary just above the minimum wage. Shame on the yellow vests.”
Following the incident, a collection of journalists within BFMTV decided to lay down their cameras on Monday and take a day off reporting the protests, in a sort of counter-protest of their own.
“It is inadmissible and cowardly in a democracy to attack journalists in the course of their work,” read a statement from their union, who then called on the protesters to “disassociate from those brutes for whom freedom of the press, it seems does not mean much.”
The refusal to work on Monday doesn’t mean that BFMTV produces no Yellow Vest-related content at all. Rather than hit the streets, the network’s journalists write content from their office, safe from harassment and egg-pelting.
Protesters themselves have accused BFMTV – a network that usually sides with the interests of big business, with or against the state – of spreading false information about the movement. The Yellow Vests and their sympathisers have accused the network of editing video to show protesters in a bad light, and underreporting the size of street demonstrations.
Before the New Year, a group of several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the network’s Paris offices, chanting “journalists come down,” “fake news” and “Macron out.”
ALSO ON RT.COM‘Journalists come down’: Yellow Vests chant ‘fake news’ outside French TV station (VIDEOS)Police broke up the gathering with tear gas, after protesters lobbed projectiles at their positions.
Beginning in November as a show of opposition to planned fuel tax hikes, the Yellow Vest protests – named after the garments all French motorists must keep in their vehicles – have since morphed into a nationwide display of fury at President Macron and his policies. Despite some conciliatory gestures from Macron’s government, the French president has seen his disapproval rating climb to 75 percent, and the protesters have vowed to keep up the pressure into 2019.