The small dust-up over whether the French government suppressed evidence of torture and mutilation at Bataclan is a good case study of the oddness of the current press moment. Heat Street ran a piece saying yes: Snopes has for the moment debunked it fairly effectively IMHO. The story continues to run on right-leaning sites without any mention of the debunking. Some of these are press outlets that are in the business of recycling right-thinking news (see here and here for example). Others, like Fox and the New York Post, are essentially mainstream outlets that tilt right, and profess to actually cover, and not just recycle, the news. And for the record, Drudge has a link up, though where you put Drudge on the news spectrum is up to you.
Meanwhile, the entire kerfuffle is not mentioned at all in the MSM. Arguably that’s because they are persuaded by the Snopes skeptical view. But one way or another, it is fair to consider this story at this point in time to be “news”, though it is news of a particularly interesting variety that suits our moment: a story poised somewhere between being and nothingness, content to inhabit that ambiguous space.
I was a bit put off that The American Thinker blog ran with an uncritical story endorsing the suppression angle. The author is one Rick Moran.
no, not Moranis, Moran. With an “a”.
Kidding aside, I like The American Thinker. It doesn’t always live up to the highfalutin’ promise of its title, but it usually presents interesting and thoughtful commentary, if sometimes inflammatory and more than occasionally doctrinaire.
Moran’s story was just posted a few minutes ago, well after the Snopes debunking’s ready availability on the web. But there is no mention of any critical evaluation of the suppression story. It looks true.
One Fenster Moop wrote in to The American Thinker in response.
I am still in my pajamas. And for now, I side with Snopes. But I welcome Monsieur Moran’s follow-up story, too.
Fenster commented at The American Thinker around 10AM. It is now noon. The comment was definitely posted because it received a snarky response from an American Thinker who thoughtfully pointed out that Snopes is a left wing shill and not to be trusted. I wrote back that thinking, even American Thinking, involves grappling with the actual issues presented. Meanwhile, I note that at some point in the last hour The American Thinker pulled my comment and it is listed as awaiting “moderation.” Sounds like fun! I look forward to my moderation. Might it involve a summer camp, maybe, with marching and lectures about Hayek and Marx?
But that’s maybe too cynical. Maybe they are having second thoughts about the original post. Stay tuned.
Note 2: Going back over the translations I do now see one reference to a specific mutilation. It is the one I referenced above, where the father was shown his son in the morgue but was not allowed to see the actual wounds on the body. This comes from one of the inquiry’s investigators, who says he has a letter from the father concerning his experience after the event. The best translation I can make of the relevant part of the father’s letter reads as follows:
. . . in the Forensic Institute of Paris, I was told, and this with reservations in the light of the impact that this represented for me at this time, that we (?) had cut off her testes, that they had placed in the mouth, and that he had been gutted.
OK, that’s getting close to a first hand account but it is still not totally convincing. The testimony is not delivered in person by someone who can be identified but is included in a letter sent to one of the investigators, and simply read at the proceedings. It does not appear to be testimony. We don’t know who sent it. We don’t know who the person was who told the father about the mutilation. And the father did not view the body. Still, it is a disturbing tale, and one that might be chased down fairly quickly by an enterprising reporter. If you are still a believer in the suppression angle here’s your chance. Everyone else is parroting the one weak account available. Go get your story.
Bonus! Fenster wrote earlier about the lack of shoe leather in what passes for journalism in the current era. Kids today!