A former campaign director from the far-right National Front party openly admitted on Twitter that he circulated a fabricated video during the French presidential campaign. EURACTIV.com looks into the story as part of the ‘Fact or Fake’ series, in partnership with France 24.
Did the National Front use fake news as a weapon during the French Presidential campaign?
This is what the news site BuzzFeed claims in a long investigative article published in mid-January, saying the campaign team of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen deliberately sought to manipulate public opinion.
But what kind of credit can actually be attributed to this investigation?
Well, a former National Front campaign director, David Rachline, seems to have spilled the beans against his own will…
Right in the middle of the presidential campaign, he circulated a video report on Facebook, accusing the public television service of campaigning in favour of Emmanuel Macron – a report that was eventually exposed as a fake.
L'effrayante vérité sur l'émission Envoyé Spécial et la directrice de l'information de France Télévisions Madame Delphine Ernotte, soutien de François Hollande et d'Emmanuel Macron !
Publié par David Rachline sur jeudi 16 mars 2017
Under fire from critics, David Rachline eventually admitted on Twitter that the report was a “parody” that was deliberately misinterpreted by ill-intentioned journalists.
Compte tenu de mon tweet, je pensais que tout le monde avait compris qu'il s'agissait d'une parodie. Ah non, pas tous ! Le niveau de certains n'est pas monté depuis la campagne présidentielle… ?? https://t.co/uhVEyXWdOM
— David Rachline (@david_rachline) January 16, 2018
But this turned out to be a shaky line of defence. The Twittersphere indeed quickly found some old tweets from David Rachline, who claimed at the time to be discovering the “terrifying truth” about the French public television service, demanding the resignation of Delphine Ernotte, a senior executive.
Those tweets were widely taken up at the time by National Front supporters on social media right in the middle of the Presidential campaign. Which seems to confirm that fake news was indeed probably part of the party’s campaign strategy.
‘Fact or Fake’ is a programme developed in partnership with France 24 as part of the weekly show Talking Europe.