Journalists From CNN, WaPo, NYT and Other Outlets Duped Into Sharing Doctored Photo of Macron

© Photo : YouTube / euronewsFrench President Emmanuel Macron during his trip to French Polynesia. Screengrab of euronews video.
French President Emmanuel Macron during his trip to French Polynesia. Screengrab of euronews video. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.07.2021
The French president arrived in French Polynesia on Saturday for a four-day visit to discuss serious issues including climate change, the territory’s strategic role in confronting China, and the legacy of French nuclear testing in the area in the 1960s and 1970s. However, serious journalists couldn’t help but focus on more frivolous matters.
Over a dozen journalists from leading mainstream media outlets have been caught spreading or reacting to a doctored photo of French President Emmanuel Macron totally covered with flowers as if it were genuine.
On Monday, Illuminati Reptilien, a French satirical Twitter account known for the creation of doctored video shorts, posted an eight-second video of officials in French Polynesia officials draping the president in traditional garland necklaces. The final seconds of the video show Macron standing alongside other officials totally covered in flowers from his head down to his knees.
Soon, some genius took a screenshot of the doctored video, and it spread like wildfire on social media, with some users, including serious diplomatic correspondents, opinion writers and global affairs analysts, taking the photo and video at face value.
Among them were Frida Ghitis, a CNN and Washington Post contributor, who tweeted, and then deleted, the screenshot, accompanying it with the tagline “My God! Macron over-garlanded in Polynesia.”
Noga Tarnopolsky, another Israel-based journalist who writes for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and other major US outlets, was also bamboozled, suggesting that Macron had been “turned into a human wreath.”
Others, including Newsweek deputy opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, The Guardian, New Statesman, and Politico contributor Pauline Bock, BBC Radio 1 host Ali Plumb, The Daily Beast editor at large Molly Jong-Fast, and CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga were similarly duped.
Only a few, including Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Anthony Stewart, and Le Parisien journalist Nicolas Beunaiche spotted the fake and pointed out to their colleagues that it was photoshopped.
French officials appear to have been slighted by the reporters’ perceived insolence, with former French Ambassador to Israel, the United States and the United Nations Gerard Araud angrily responding to Tarnopolsky’s tweet saying “It is a fake. You know it. It is dishonest not to delete it.”
“You clearly don’t understand the Internet,” a user jokingly replied. Users lambasted journalists for falling into Illuminati Reptilien’s trap, quipping that the video was destined to become a meme, suggesting it looks like something out of The Onion, or jesting that the president had been made to look like a character out of William Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Knight’s Dream."
Along with Western journalists, Illuminati Reptilien appears to have tricked millions of others, with the doctored video of Macron viewed over 6.6 million times on Twitter.
Illuminati Reptilien is well-known in French meme culture for creating doctored videos at public officials’ expense. Sometimes, they repurpose videos posted by politicians themselves, others, they use clips from appearances on television, but always with hilarious results.
Macron arrived in French Polynesia, a French territory consisting of over 100 dispersed islands and atolls across a 2,000 km+ area of the South Pacific Ocean, on Saturday. The trip was meant to demonstrate the French leader's commitment to the region amid the threat of climate change, the "Chinese threat," and the legacy of French nuclear testing in the area during the 1960s and 1970s. Residents have expressed hope that Macron would apologise to and agree to compensate victims of radiation poisoning from the tests. However, French officials have denied any "state cover-up" of the tests and "ruled out any official apology from France."
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