NewsHour Fails French Public, Too

In the coverage of French retirement protests, you often hear U.S.reporters state the debate is over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. As Dean Baker has pointed out (as did Amitabh Pal from the Progressive, when he appeared on CounterSpin) this is incorrect; the retirement age for most French workers is 65; they are pushing toraise it to 67.Early retirement for some workers would shift from 60 to 62.

Lastnight (10/19/10)the PBS NewsHour had two discussions on this topic, and both made the same error. A live reportby Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman included thisJohn Stosselesque exchange:

RUGMAN: In England, I have to work until 65.


RUGMAN: Why shouldn’t you in France work until 62?

WOMAN: It’s not because Europe has a system, that we have to have the same system. We are not OK with that.

RUGMAN: The French are the French.

WOMAN: France is France.

In adiscussion segment,GlobalPost journalistMildrade Cherfils said, “But the majority of French people do understand that the retirement age has to change. It has to go from 60 to 62.” With polls showing that the French public overwhelmingly back the protests,one might conclude that the public isn’t exactly embracing this “change.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.