Did Hollande travel to vote in a private jet?

On Sunday April 23, the French blogging site “La Gauche m’a tuer” shared a story on its Facebook page claiming that President François Hollande had used a private jet to go to vote in the town of Tulle in the first round of France’s presidential election. However, the head of state did not travel on a private jet but on the presidential Falcon, according to the AFP’s correspondent at the presidential palace.

“Hollande travels to vote in Tulle in a private jet: the €30,000 cost of the operation is paid by the French tax-payer”, alleges La Gauche m’a tuer. However, it does not specify that the article to which it refers is from 7 December 2015, following the first round of regional elections held at the height of the international climate conference in Paris. The Facebook post published Sunday afternoon, in full first round of the presidential, was shared more than 14,000 times in 24 hours.

The AFP reporter, who was present in Tulle as the President voted, confirmed that François Hollande arrived and left Corrèze by plane. But he says he traveled aboard the presidential Falcon and not a private jet.

However, the use of this plane for these purposes had already provoked criticism at municipal meetings in March 2014. The cost of the return trip was, however, less than the figure put forward by La Gauche m’a tuer according to an estimate in Le Parisien. The newspaper suggested the trip would cost €9,200. In the May 2014 European elections, Hollande avoided controversy by travelling to Tulle by car.

The prefecture of Corrèze is more than five hours by train from Paris – and the journey is about as long by car.



Did London Muslims “celebrate” a terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees?

A video posted on Twitter Friday claimed that Muslims were “celebrating” in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees in Paris which left one person dead on the night of Thursday, 20th of April. The claim is false.

In the video, we see a group of men celebrating, some standing on a statue. The author assures us that they “celebrating” the terrorist attack that took the life of a policeman and was claimed by the Islamic State group.

The video was posted by Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First – a far-right British political organization.

It is actually a group of Pakistanis in London – on the outskirts of Tooting Broadway, southwest of the British capital – celebrating a victory for Pakistan in a cricket match in 2009. The video was posted on YouTube on June 22, 2009:

[Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AActlAp7Ow]

After being alerted by several Internet users, Paul Golding finally deleted his tweet on Friday night.


Revelations surrounding Mélenchon’s modes of travel cause confusion

French news website Atlantico published an article on April 20th entitled “After the canal boat, Mélenchon’s ‘rebellious’ jet: a trip between friends (in luxury)”. The article was lambasted on social media because it copied excerpts of a similar article by French spoof website Le Gorafi. Atlantico defended itself in a statement where it assured it “never deliberately wished to use Le Gorafi as a serious source, nor did it present it as such”.

Atlantico is often presented as a ‘right-wing Mediapart’ (Mediapart is a French online investigative and opinion journal), but guaranteed 0% pre-established ideological standpoints.”  Atlantico affirms that Mélenchon “travels in business class”, “because he has back problems”. The website is surprised by the “behavioral discrepancy between what Mélenchon wishes for ‘the people’ and what he accords himself.”

The section of the article highlighted on social media makes reference to a 2013 article by Le Gorafi entitled Jean-Luc Mélenchon explains himself after buying a private jet for the Left Party”, without mentioning that the article was a parody. Readers were also surprised by the lack of credit to the article’s author, Xavier Prague on any other article of the website.

Jean-Sébastien Ferjou, Atlantico’s founder, told CrossCheck partner LCI.fr that it was the “pseudo of an investigative journalist”. In his statement, he cites “stylistic clumsiness” and “the accidental publication of a non-finalized version”.

“The only part that matters is the end of the article, the part about the real jet”, he concludes. On February 4th, 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon “travelled to Basel (Switzerland) to attend the commemorative day for the abolition of slavery in Champagney (near the Franco-Swiss border)”, writes Atlantico, which published the flight plan for the Paris-Basel flight by AstonJet, on which the candidate’s name appears. This flight plan was added to the article later, as were many other changes made on April 20th. Contacted by Buzzfeed, a CrossCheck partner, AstonJet “does not confirm, nor denies” the information. Yet, the French newspaper Libération received confirmation of the landing of the cited plane at Basel airport on February 4th.

Le Gorafi mocked this story a few hours later. In response, Atlantico denounced an anti-media campaign.



Does France’s Education Minister want to cancel philosophy classes for high school students studying literature and socioeconomics?

On April 17th, the Facebook page of La gauche m’a tuer (The Left killed me) which presents itself as a right-wing media outlet, published an article dating from June 2015 which states that the French Minister of Education, Najat Vallaud Belkacem, wishes to cancel philosophy classes for high school students specializing in literature and socioeconomics.

“Najat Vallaud Belkacem cancels philosophy for students specializing in literature and socioeconomics. Share massively”, states the Facebook page of La gauche m’a tuer which cites a ministerial decree which appeared in the French government’s ‘Official Journal’ on June 21st, 2015. A first draft of this decree concerning new timetabling in high schools omitted philosophy, history and geography classes for students studying literature and socioeconomics. The Ministry of Education immediately acknowledged  “an error” and published a rectified version of the timetables two days later. However, on April 17th La gauche m’a tuer republished its June 2015 article without mentioning the correction.


(Translation: Corrected Official Journal high school timetables, with philosophy, history and geography)

Initially modified in order to integrate moral and civic education, the new high school timetables allocate 8 hours per week to philosophy classes for students specializing in literature, and 4 hours for those specializing in socioeconomics.