Paris mayor decries Fox News reports of ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is speaking out about erroneous Fox News reports that suggested that parts of the city were “no-go zones” for non-Muslims and for the police.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Hidalgo said that the image and honor of Paris had been besmirched by Fox News and that she thinks “we’ll have to go to court.”
Fox News last week apologized for the reports, which included a segment on Jeanine Pirro’s show in which a guest said that such no-go zones exist not only in France, but throughout Europe, including the British city of Birmingham.
“Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France,” Fox News anchor Julie Banderas said. “To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.”
Pirro also apologized for allowing the comments to be aired without challenge. Her guest, Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, acknowledged a “terrible error for which I am deeply sorry.” He will be making a donation to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, he said.
All the contrition does not appear to have mollified the Paris mayor.
“I am of course shocked by the stigmatizing foolishness of Fox News,” Hidalgo tweeted Tuesday.
The mayor’s office confirmed to the French newspaper L’Express that complaints will be filed in France and the United States.
“Fox News may have apologized, but continues to evoke zones of high criminality in Paris, which is still wrong,” the paper quoted the mayor’s media office as saying. “The problem isn’t the editorial line, of course, but the broadcast of inaccurate information that is prejudicial to the image of Paris in general.”
In a statement Tuesday, Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente said, “We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life. However, we find the mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced.”
The chances of a successful lawsuit are slim, said Anthony Fargo, director of the Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies.
In the U.S., the law doesn’t recognize the rights of cities, states and governmental bodies to sue for defamation, Fargo said, making the likelihood of success “very remote at best.”
“This is kind of an interesting attempt by the mayor to try to vindicate to some extent the reputation of Paris or at least appear to be doing so in the eyes of the citizens of Paris,” Fargo said.
And at least one problem for the city of Paris is whether French courts have any jurisdiction over Fox News, Fargo said. The city would at least have to show that Fox News has some presence in the country before it could sue it in French court.
Times staff writer Alexandra Zavis contributed to this report.
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