World Leaders Face the Foe, er, Faux

That recent Paris march with its retinue of presidents and prime ministers leading the hoi polloi sure was an inspirational moment in the crusade to defend free speech. What a pity the ABC footage was spliced, edited and nothing like the sequestered reality of a stage-managed photo op

hypocrites on paradeThe iconic TV image to emerge after the Islamic massacres in Paris was the 40-plus world leaders marching   at the head of millions of Paris demonstrators. The footage said it all: Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, etc etc throwing personal safety to the winds as they led the masses through the dangerous avenues of Paris. Thus they showed Islamists that our national leaders can’t be cowed.

Let’s take a look at our ABC’s taxpayer-financed coverage. Exemplary, I’d assume, especially as the ABC boasts a dedicated fact-checking unit run by ex-Age journo Russell Skelton and financed by a $10m handout in 2013 from then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I can’t retrieve ABC TV 7pm News coverage for the day (perhaps I’m just incompetent), but a clip from Leigh Sales’ 7.30 on January 12 is illustrative.

Spliced into footage of the mass march, we see the tranche of world leaders marching shoulder to shoulder (from 3.20 to 3.40) with a voice-over hailing their solidarity with victims and determination to ‘show support’.
It would take a particularly alert viewer to notice that no ordinary marchers are in these grabs, that the street is actually empty of other life, and that there is not a soul to be seen hanging out the windows of the five-storey apartments on both sides. In fact, if you look hard, you will notice that the camera angles are specifically framed to conceal the fact that no other marchers are around.

ABC transcriptions show that the national broadcaster on January 12-13 was happy to go along with the fake symbolism. Here’s ABC’s PM  fibbing:

President Francois Hollande and leaders from Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Britain and the Palestinian territories among others moved off from the central Place de la République ahead of a sea of French and other flags.

Then there is ABC News recycling the same fib, this time via wire service Associated Press:

“More than 40 world leaders headed the somber procession”.

And ABC AM fibbing: “Dozens of world leaders also answered the call, linking arms as they walked along the rally route.”

Yet more ABC News fibs:

President Francois Hollande and leaders from Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Britain and the Palestinian territories among others moved off from the central Place de la République ahead of a sea of French and other flags.

And ABC AM fibs yet again:

BARBARA MILLER: Before the mass rally got going dozens of leaders, including from the UK, Germany, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey, walked the route.

This report, interestingly, seems to separate the national leaders from the mass rally, but leaves us believing that the leaders marched the 3km route from  Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation.

ABC TV’s Mary Gearin also deviated slightly from the script, saying

“This was a special moment; the people leading a million others through the streets of Paris were not the super group of foreign dignitaries but a tight group of surviving workers from Charlie Hebdo and the families and friends.”

So Gearin, though confined in the ‘media pen’, managed to notice that the march was not ‘led’ by those heads of state. She did imply that the leader group was in the thick of it all, but not at the forefront.

Time now for the reality show. Below is a screen grab taken, taken from YouTube, of the dozens of heads of state pretending to be marching with Parisians for free speech and the Western way of life. Their pretendy-march is taking place in a side street blocked off and cleared of ordinary people. The regularly spaced   dark figures in the background represent the security contingent. The pic is a grab from this video, and comes to Quadrant Online via the estimable Pierre Gosselin of Notrickszone:

paris nobsThe video beginswith the fakery and then illustrates how the faux march was spliced into various German TV news reports. In this video we can enjoy the sight of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vigorously waving to non-existing supporters (2.56); plus a “whoops” moment when a bad camera angle almost exposes the faking (9.11); plus an announcer summing up, without irony: “Politiker wie Demonstranten” == “Politicians as Demonstrators”. 9.20).

Gosselin comments:

“The reality is that these world leaders were in fact too afraid to appear ‘arm-in-arm, should-to-shoulder’ with the masses. In effect they actually demonstrated their capitulation to terrorism, admitting the terror worked and that they are now too afraid to appear with the public. Congratulations terrorists, your aim has been achieved – at least among our leaders. Obviously real courage is something only for the masses.”

He continues:

“The topping on the cake comes at the 10:00 mark, where the ZDF correspondent even asks:
When was there ever a time where government leaders, or leaders of 50 nations, have come onto the streets as demonstrators, over a kilometer-long stretch that was not even completely safe? That was something particularly special.”

We can also assume from the very restricted clips of the leaders’ march that it was official footage, shot and released to the ABC and other media, not done by the media themselves. The media/ABC went along  by judiciously in-splicing the official footage with footage of the mass demonstration.

I had a go at counting the actual steps marched by the leader group. It looks like somewhere between a dozen and twenty (based on a close viewing of two clips), assuming the leaders didn’t continue stepping out once the cameras had their shots.

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