A senior journalist’s suspension at a leading French TV news channel has brought to light a system of ‘news for hire’ corruption in international media.
Veteran presenter Rachid M’Barki was suspended from his overnight duties on the BFM channel in January, and now an investigation conducted by Le Monde newspaper in partnership with campaigners Forbidden Stories has revealed the reason for his dismissal.
Le Monde reports that M’Barki ran reports planted by an organisation based in Israel, an outfit the newspaper says is Team Jorge, run by a former Israeli soldier, real name Tal Hanan. Le Monde says Team Jorge is one of a growing number of players in the market of peddling disinformation, and paying for access to mainstream media to either slur a subject’s reputation, or even influence elections.
The investigators claim to have been in contact with Hanan, and that he told them he had interfered with more than 30 elections in total.
M’Barki admits to running the stories without BFM’s usual editorial checks, saying he was offered the stories and considered them valid to run – although he denies being paid to do so.
The reports he ran would have gone unnoticed after being shown overnight during M’Barki’s presenting shifts, but for Team Jorge’s avatars swinging into action and propelling the stories across social media.
The reports included stories on allegations of corruption in Qatar, and the impact on the luxury yacht business in Monaco of the EU’s sanctions on Russia.
Click here to read more about the investigation by Le Monde and Forbidden Stories…
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