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Alain Hertoghe (born 1959) is a Belgian journalist, formerly an employee of the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. He was fired in December 2003 after writing a book critical of the coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by French newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, Ouest-France and La Croix.
Entitled La Guerre à Outrances (in English: The All Out War: How the press misinformed us on Iraq), Hertoghe claims that the big five French newspapers were ideological, biased and anti-American in their coverage of the war. He selectively presents articles contradicting themselves, or characteristic of the following lines of thoughts:
- striking attack, immediately followed by predictions of quagmire as soon as US troop regrouped and received reinforcements ("a new Viet-Nam", "the hawks in Washington were mistaken")
- prediction of a humanitarian disaster
- welcoming of difficulties faced by US troops (Schadenfreude)
- predictions of a bloody urban battle in Baghdad (the "new Stalingrad", the "new Budapest").
His position was that anti-Americanism, rather than an explicit understanding between the papers, was the cause for the monolithic position of the press, and that the public was not offered a debate on the issues. He states that Le Monde went the farthest in its defense of the Iraqi regime, calling the newspaper "Saddam's Gazette." It has also been noted that Hertoghe's work is itself partial, selective, and fails to comment on the coverage of the war in foreign countries.
La Croix justified its firing of Alain Hertoghe by claiming that the book was damaging to its reputation and to the authority of its editors, in opposition to its editorial line, and made claims questioning the professional ethics of some of the staff.
- For only 72 hours have the Americano-British troops crossed the border of Kuwait. The intensive air campaign on Iraq (...) has begun only 48 hours ago. However (...) the quagmire theme is already showing through in the newspapers. There we see the impatient desire of the redactions to see the Americans and British suffer in their endeavour. The good thing with starting by a nuanceless striking war prediction is that at the first sign of a problem, you can already dramatise. The framework for the general media slip is in place.
- The French press stays focused on the sweet revenge which it thinks it holds against those who despised the "Peace side", France and its ever-lucide journalists.
- [On the 1st of April] Serge July stays on his obsession: the "worst case scenario". Ready ? Go ! "One might have raised concerns, but worse is actually happening", the director of Libération delects himself. "The failure of the American military parade in the desert, supposed to make the regime implose within a few days, is a drawback for Donald Rumsfeld and the bunch of Dr. Strangelove of an imposed democracy". He feels however that the "statisfaction will be short". Because we will see a "real war". Confronted to "the necessity to win at all cost", the United States will cause "thousands of victims" among the civilian Iraqi population, and this while "sacrifying hundreds of GIs, perhaps thousands". This will Serge July's unvoluntary April Fool's editorial.