'You’re not a journalist': RT reporter barred from Elysee Palace event despite valid credentials
On Monday, Kevin Berg, working for RT France, was denied entry to the Elysee Palace to cover a technical briefing of Macron’s upcoming visit to Calais on January 17. While passing through the security gates of the presidential palace, Berg was stopped by a person in charge of handling the press at Macron’s office. The media officer asked the RT journalist which media outlet he represents. After presenting the attendant with a press card issued by the French authorities, Macron’s representative barred Berg from entering, saying: “Oh no! You are not a journalist, we only bring in the journalists.”
Aujourd’hui la presse était conviée à un briefing sur le déplacement d’Emmanuel Macron à Calais demain. Problème, malgré la présentation d’une carte de presse, les journalistes travaillant pour @RTenfrancais ne « sont pas journalistes ». Vive la liberté de la presse...— @KEVIN_RT (@KEVINBERG_RT) January 15, 2018
Monday’s incident makes it twice in just five days that RT France has been denied the opportunity to cover an Elysee event. On January 10, RT France was barred from covering Macron’s visit to Rome. “We did not manage to get into the residence because the authorities denied us access,” RT’s Kyrill Kotikov, covering the trip, noted last week. “We made all requests for accreditation ... We sent our file and it was accepted upstream by the Elysee, but as soon as we set foot on the Italian soil, the press service of the Elysee stopped responding.”
“Within a week our journalists have been refused accreditation by the Elysée twice,” RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said. “President Macron, who protects the baguette instead of freedom of speech, should carefully reread the constitution of France.”
Macron has been harboring a grudge against RT and Sputnik ever since the start of his presidential campaign last year, revoking the accreditation of both Moscow-based news outlets and labeling the channels “propaganda” feeds. Macron and his team accused Russia of interference in the election, claiming that Russian hackers attempted to gain access to their data and impede the work of their website in the lead-up to the presidential vote. Moscow has staunchly denied any interference.
Earlier this month, Macron called for the creation of a national law that would, according to the president, combat the spread of fake news. On Monday, just before RT France was denied entry to the Elysee, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out the “fakeness” of news is being assigned arbitrarily, without an “adversarial principle,” “an exchange of arguments or a probe.” “It would be interesting to see what form this initiative takes,” Lavrov said.
Well, we know one form already at work: just obstruct the work of legitimately accredited media outlets if their stories are not to President Macron’s liking.