Charlie Hebdo: Who’s awake and who’s in bed?
On Thursday, January 8, France 3, the second-largest French public TV channel, reported the death that very morning of a police commissioner who had been investigating the January 7 attack on the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The commissioner, Helric Fredou, 45, was found dead in his office in Limoges, the administrative capital of the Limousin region in west-central France, at about 1 a.m., having apparently taken his own life with his service gun. He had earlier met with the family of a victim of the Charlie Hebdo attack and died before completing a report that he had been compiling.
So much so interesting. Almost as interesting is the lack of interest in the Western media at this added tragedy in the Charlie Hebdo “affair”, a lack of interest one reporter summed up as a “mainstream news blackout” – and so the ready focus of another conspiracy theory.
The counterpoint in those early reports that did surface was that he had suffered from depression and experienced burn out. His death so soon after taking on a role in investigating the French equivalent of “9/11” was, apparently just coincidence. Even so, the delay in Western coverage of any sort is curious at best.
So a news blackout? Or just lazy journalism? And where best, then, to get breaking news – the West’s leading news outlets (CNN, Fox, New York Times, the Guardian etc etc etc), or obscure outlets elsewhere that at least are awake, and not still in bed — literally or metaphorically?
Here’s a timeline to help you decide.
Thursday Jan 8, 1 a.m.: Fredou is found dead.
Thursday, Jan 8, 11:24 a.m.: France 3, the second largest French public TV channel, breaks the story.
Sunday, Jan 11, 1 a.m: Sputnik, which in November 2014 replaced Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency and Voice of Russia, seems to be the first “mainstream” outlet to carry the story.
Sputnik, however, was not the first to pick up the France 3 report, which can reasonably be taken as accurate at least so far as the key facts: that commissioner Fredou was dead, that died from a gun shot, that he was found dead that morning, and that he had been investigating, in some way, the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Few readers, however, will have heard of these fast-to-the-news outlets.
On Friday, Jan 9: Medha News in India ran the story.
Also on Friday, Jan 9: UprootedPalestinians ran the story.
Also on Friday, Jan 9: Free Radio Revolution was awake in the US. See here
On Saturday Jan 10: 21st Century Wire was not far behind.
On January 11, Epoch Times (German edition of a China-oriented site much concerned with and supportive of the harrased Falung Gong sect)
By then, questions were being asked about this absence of reporting on what might be an important story of great public interest – or might not be, but with next-to-no mainstream reporting, who could tell? Global Research was asking on January 11.
If some people want to argue that these are small sites given to sometimes questionable stories, in this case there was little reason to question their source – France 3 – or the key facts.
Yet it was not until January 12, that the British press started to wake up, the Mirror reporting just after midday, followed 3 hours later by the Daily Mail.
Dragging its feet, also on Monday (7:37 p.m.), the UK’s Daily Telegraph gave its account of an event now more than 4 days old that took place only a few hours train ride away from the Telegraph’s London office.
(Journalists will love the ambiguous urgency in the Telegraph’s opening use of “it has emerged” – “A high-ranking judicial police chief in Limoges committed suicide last Wednesday hours after being asked to file a report on the Charlie Hebdo killings, it has emerged.” In other words, we were asleep (or worse) – but hey, we’re investigative after a fashion.
It was not until Tuesday, January 13, that the US press woke up, in the shape of the Washington Times – and by now it had absolutely no doubt about what line to take in its headline – “Helric Fredou, French police chief, kills himself amid pressure of Paris terror”.
Writing this on Thursday, there are now numerous stories in the non-English language press, but search on Google and it appears there is absolutely no coverage of this, if not strange then certainly worth a second look, death: not on CNN, not on the New York Times, not in the Washington Post, not in the Guardian, etc etc etc.
We do not need a conspiracy theory (a confirmed autopsy report would be a start though). But we could do with some reporting. After all, a large part of the reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre concerned press freedom – and press freedom requires reporting in the first place.
The absence of reporting on the death of a senior police officer, Helric Fredou, involved in some way in the investigation of the Charlie Hebdo massacre that took place barely 24 hours earlier can too easily mean the absence of freedom – or in this case, raise the question of who is awake to important events, and who is in bed, and if in bed, then with whom.