Mort Report is a labor of love by old-style correspondents with lifetimes on the road and young ones with fresh eyes. Our philosophy is simple: we report at first hand with analysis based on non-alternative fact, not opinion. If we get something wrong, we fix it.
PARIS – The noble ostrich is impressive to watch loping along an African savannah at 50 miles an hour, but its survival strategy needs work. With head in the sand and tail in the air, it risks ending up skinned for some rich guy’s cowboy boots or maybe a Mar-a-Lago golf bag.
My recent piece about the White House jihad on truth prompted one reader to remark that Donald Trump’s slurs resonate because “the msm (mainstream media) is no longer trustworthy or helpful.” Big news companies make up a single collective to be dismissed out of hand.
Here’s a parallel: The smc (supermarket chains) no longer provide nutritious food. Of course, they do. Choice is up to each shopper. Those who load up their carts with only Twinkies and canned spaghetti can hardly blame the store.
The “mainstream” is shot full of failings, but its broad reach provides essential basic coverage. That’s a start. Countless other sources add detail, verify or dispute facts, fill in context and sketch human backdrops. Anyone who fails to grasp global realities isn’t trying hard enough.
BEAUNE, France - Tête de noeud, meaning dickhead, describes a lot of French labor leaders and bosses. Now they're playing chicken over train service. But the strawberries are ripe, and spring lambs are fat on clover, so I drove backroads from Provence to Paris, stopping at any excuse to investigate life in a socialist gulag run by silk-tie capitalists.
Any wine snob will recognize this dateline. The Hospices de Beaune auction each year offers velvety Burgundy vintages, redder than the Wyoming voters who can afford them. And their origin says much about France.
A nobleman named Nicolas Rolin built the splendid Hôtel-Dieu, with its colorful tiled roof, as a hospital for poor people and war veterans. He gave vineyards to the church to pay for free medical care. That was 50 years before Columbus happened upon America.
I've lived in France way too long for any illusions. It is often infuriating. No one anywhere is more galling than a prime French connard. A butthead. Yet there is also the opposite extreme. Beware of any sentence beginning, “France is…” Yet some basics apply.
Fraternité is iffy, and Liberté is getting stressed a bit. Egalité, however, is anchored in stone. Small-s socialism means you can be vastly rich, but you don't brag about it. Safety nets – human rights, not charity – keep people from starving or dying from lack of care.
That extends to politics. Short campaigns have strict rules and evenly shared TV time. Nicolas Sarkozy, who lived high in the Elysées, could be jailed for 10 years if convicted of taking funds from Muammar Qaddafi (who he later helped depose). Corruption is hardly unknown in France, but here you can get punished for it.
And that’s why unions, maddening as they are, are crucial. They keep big business and state from tipping a delicate balance.
Photo © Alison Harris. www.alisonharris.com