French protesters took to the streets early this month in opposition to proposed austerity measures that would, among other things, delay the legal age for receiving retirement benefits. The passage of such a bill on September 15 by the lower house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, occasioned further protests. (The bill hasn’t come before France’s upper house.)
Though U.S. news outlets like to claim objectivity, the actual rules of corporate journalism allow for mockery and derision of people and ideas that don’t fit a corporate-friendly template. As FAIR has documented throughout the years, U.S. corporate media despise French workers, routinely casting them as lazy, spoiled and demanding, and in need of having austerity measures imposed upon them (e.g., here, here and here).
This helps to explain why the Associated Press found it permissible to ridicule the significance of increasing the age for French pensions from 60 to 62, reporting in the lead of its news story, “France’s National Assembly voted to delay retirement until the ripe old age of 62.”
It may also explain why the AP can’t be bothered to get facts straight. The law passed by the French National Assembly would raise the legal age for receiving partial retirement benefits from 60 to 62 in 2018; the French are also increasing eligibility for full a pension entitlement, from 65 to 67. Not much different than the U.S.’s Social Security system, where one can get partial retirement benefits at 63. (Sixty-seven is considered the “normal” retirement age in the U.S., though one gets maximum benefits by delaying retirement until 70.)
A Wall Street Journal report about the proposed French changes came with lavish graphs, including one comparing the ages at which retirees receive pensions from country to country. The graph accurately listed the U.S. at 67 years old, the age at which a normal pension is awarded (to those born after 1960); but the age listed for France, which should have been 65, was listed as 60.
The AP and the Wall Street Journal were not the only outlets botching the reporting. U.S. outlets that failed to stipulate that the 60 to 62 age change was only for partial benefits included the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN. In fact, reporting that accurately explained that that the French plan was to increase the age for full retirement benefits from 65 to 67 was the exception.
But reporting the story factually would diminish its French worker-bashing value and, besides, no one important got hurt.