Paris mayor threatens to sue Fox News for 'insult' of 'no go zones'
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, set liberal hearts aflutter in the U.S. when she threatened to sue Fox News and Rupert Murdoch for comments made on air about Paris "no go zones."
The network recently apologized for some statements that didn't jibe with the "official" narrative that there's no such thing as no-go zones in France or anywhere else in Europe. Of course, as I explained yesterday, what government is ever going to admit publicly that it doesn't control its own country? Instead, Paris police refer to the no-go zones as "Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones, with the even more antiseptic acronym ZUS, and there are 751 of them as of last count," in France alone, according to Daniel Pipes.
So what's the basis of Hidalgo's suit? Fantasy.
"The image of Paris has been prejudiced and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced," Hidalgo said.
Fox on Saturday issued several apologies for statements made on-air that suggested such zones existed in Europe.
In one such apology, anchor Julie Banderas said the network "made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe," and apologized "to any and all who may have taken offense, including the people of France and England."
It was not immediately clear where Paris might sue Fox, a division of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
Legal experts said the city faced an uphill legal fight, especially in the United States, which has strong protections for media against defamation and libel claims.
"I believe there is no cause of action in the United States, period," said Jane Kirtley, a media law professor at the University of Minnesota.
"This is an example of someone from another country not recognizing the force of the First Amendment, which allows criticism of governmental entities," she said, referring to part of the U.S. Constitution.
Kirtley said France has potentially more accommodative "insult" laws that could let government officials claim that published statements, even if truthful, assaulted their dignity.
But even if Paris prevailed in France, enforcing a judgment might be difficult, because a 2010 U.S. law called the Speech Act makes a variety of foreign libel judgments that conflict with U.S. laws unenforceable in U.S. courts.
"Even if a judgment were obtained in France, it would be impossible under American law to enforce it here," said Robert Drechsel, a journalism professor who teaches media law at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Mayor Hidalgo should prove her point by walking through a few of those 751 ZUS zones with her head uncovered and see just how friendly the natives are.
Of course there are parts of Paris where a Christian soul would enter at his own peril. Pretending otherwise might comfort the tourists, but Parisians know the score and give a wide berth to those areas of the city where, for whatever reason, they aren't welcome.