Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 04:21:56 AM EST
Finland is generally considered to be one of the best countries in the world when it comes to freedom of the press. (Reporters without Borders)
But ever so often, you read a head scratcher of an article that makes you wonder whether our beloved press freedom is nothing but conventional wisdom.
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Take for example this article in Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, apparently originating from Finnish news agency STT, entitled Hyper-Sarkozy seilaa yhä myötätuulessa or "Hyper-Sarkozy sails still in fair wind" (the same article is also available in Swedish in Finnish Swedish language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet), published on August 23 to coincide with Sarkozy having been president for a hundred days.
The title itself should have been a warning sign; alas, I decided to read it anyway. As I feared, it turned out to be little more than a Sarkozy press release.
It starts off bad enough (translation based on the Swedish version):
|Den nye högerpresidenten har inlett sitt arbete med en otrolig energi och gett sig i kast med alla slags ämnen På köpet har han nästan kväst oppositionen och gjort presidentinstitutionen mer folknära.||
||The new right-wing president has started his work with incredible energy and tackled all sorts of subjects. In addition he has almost put down the opposition and brought the institution of the presidency closer to the people.|
Oh, goody! Sounds like a swell guy! Is this is supposed to be a serious news article or a profile on Match.com?
|Om Sarkozys fartfyllda stil vittnar bland annat att han till och med tillbringade sin korta sommarsemester i USA i närheten av George W. Bushs fritidshus, och alltså hade arbetet i tankarna. Vila tycks tillsvidare inte ens finnas i Sarkozys ordförråd. ||
||A testament to Sarkozy's energetic demeanor is, among other things, the fact that he spent his short summer vacation in the United States near George W. Bush's vacation home, and thus had work in mind. Rest apparently does not even exist in Sarkozy's vocabulary thus far. |
Run that by me again, would ya? How exactly is vacationing near the vacationer-in-chief, who makes Ronald Reagan look like a dedicated worker, in any sense "keeping work in mind"? And monsieur
Malta Yacht Guy doesn't know the meaning of the word "rest"? Say what?
At this point I'm beginning to wonder whether they'll mention any criticism of the Sarkozy presidency at all.
Finally, something. My faith in the Finnish media is about to be restored. Behold:
|Filosofen Alain Finkielkraut säger till exempel att Sarkozy borde promenera i stället för att springa, eftersom det bättre skulle främja seriöst tänkande. ||
||Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut says for example that Sarkozy should be walking instead of running, since it would better facilitate serious thinking.|
What?!? This your idea of fair and balanced? He runs
too much?!? That's the worst thing that could be said about the guy?? Franklin D. Roosevelt wishes he would've gotten that sort of press!
And that's about it. A reference is made to supposed experts claiming the governmental projections for economic growth might possibly maybe be a bit too optimistic. And the constitutional council rejected a proposed tax cut. No reference to the myriad of minor and not-so-minor scandals and gaffes the Sarkozy presidency has generated in its first hundred days. Nothing, nada, zilch.
And then, to cap it all off, in the very last sentence, they go for the kill:
|Han är också känd som en ivrig beskyddare av fransk industri, vilket kan ge problem i EU, som grundar sig på fri konkurrens.||
||He's also known as an eager protector of French industry, which can cause problems in the EU, which is founded on free competition.|
Gaah! That's it! He's not a free-marketer, that's the man's biggest flaw! Let me check the top of the page again...nope, it's not the Financial Times. Had me fooled there for a minute.
But isn't it a lovely narrative they're setting up: if the Sarko presidency succeeds, it's because he's a liberal reformist. If it fails, it's because he's a protectionist who didn't enact enough reforms.
Oh well, at least they didn't airbrush his love handles in the picture accompanying the article