Coronavirus Propaganda and The French Press: A case Study

By Ed Timperlake

The very important second half of Chanel Rion’s question, representing One America News (OAN), to President Trump about Chicom propaganda, and other bad actors was ignored by many of the White House press corps.

It was painfully obvious that they intentionally channeled their inner “Mean Girls” attitude to mock her brilliant set up; Is Chinese Food racist?

But she proved to be smarter than the lot by her mention of the international scope of the very significant Information War threat to America by many beyond China:

“Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels and they work right here out of the White House with direct access to you and your team?”

While the WH press was mocking  the OAN reporter for throwing a penalty flag at propaganda, the oldest news agency in the world was reacting to false attempts to blame the French military for the Coronavirus pandemic.

Agence France –Presse (AFP) is the world oldest news agency and when their editors and reporters recognized fake news trying to discredit their French military fighting and medical teams in combat they moved quickly.

The unity of purpose with AFP protecting the honor of France troops who were putting  their lives on the line in helping Africans was commendable.

I am sure the very capable French intelligence services can vector in using cyber/Information war forensics to determine who libeled the French Army.

In the U.S. case, the Peoples Republic of China  made it easy by having no qualms in slandering the United States Army as conducting germ warfare.

In Africa, it can be many bad actors that have an incentive to go after the French who are a significant force for stability and good.

In a social media disinformation campaign against French troops, it could be China, Russia or even home grown anti-government forces.

The point about Information war having many potential players makes Chanel Rion’s statement/question even more prescient than her just looking at China.

She named many bad sources of propagandists trying to influence America unchecked by any  honest diligent media skepticism.

Right now there is a global disinformation campaign trying to muddy up the real source of COVID-19 in the African Nation of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

This nasty propaganda effort of blaming the French military was seen by AFP, regardless of the source, and in recognizing that a photograph covering French military combat medicine in Afghanistan was being used to claim the French were spreading COVID-19 in Côte d’Ivoire, AFP acted professionally by reaching out to Murielle Delaporte.

Murielle Delaporte is  an international  reporter and editor who published the  picture after being embedded with the French armed forces in Afghanistan in 2012.

This is no small matter because nations can become very unstable relying on fake new during a pandemic, especially as a third wave of epidemics is now expected on a Continent, where confinement will be even more difficult to implement than what we all experience right now.

AFP deserves great credit for remarkable heads-up situational awareness in spiking such a blatant propaganda effort because FAUX means FAKE in English and as we say in American military jargon good on em!

A rumor currently is being spread in Ivory Coast by social networks about the “fact” that French soldiers have been contaminating Abidjan and are being taken care of at a French military base.

To illustrate such claim, a picture has been lifted from the French website showing French military medical staff attending patients.

Yet this photo was in actual fact taken years ago in Kabul International Airport during the Pamir operation, i.e. the French participation to ISAF in Afghanistan.

One should therefore be grateful for journalists, such as AFP “fact checker” Sadia Mandjo, who are seeking the truth against those who are trying to discredit French armed forces deployed in Africa for peace-keeping missions (such as in Ivory Coast) as well as in the fight against terrorism (like in Mali).

Murielle Delaporte is the editor of the French magazine Operationnels.

The photo was lifted from an article published in 2014 in her related website ( ) as a follow up of a reporting published in Soutien Logistique Defense # 10, Winter 2013.

Mandio reached out to Delaporte to inform her of this case of disinformation in the Ivory Coast.

Many in the American mainstream press have now surrendered any pride in being fair and accurate.

It is tragic for America that President Trump is actually 100% correct when he calls out fake news.

American’s  respect for the formerly honorable practice of accurate timely fact based journalism is rapidly drifting away.

Many who should know better are squandering all American’s sacred First Amendment protections by becoming  ideologically driven hacks and the jury is out on whether this broken trust can be repaired.

Also, see the following:

Coronavirus : Geopolitical Stakes And Disinformation

The Coronavirus Crisis and Information War