Edwy Plenel does not respect the principles he claims to uphold

By Laurent Mucchielli, CNRS research director

In your short interview with Edwy Plenel (EP) on December 13, 2023, Plenel repeats unfounded accusations against me and reaffirms his contempt by associating me with Didier Raoult, whom he seems to dislike intensely. It also demonstrates his ignorance of scientific and medical issues. So when he remarks that  » reality sometimes doesn’t fit into our convictions, and our role is to provide information that forces some of our audience to think against themselves « , we think he’d do well to apply his own principle to himself from time to time.

A special case illustrating a general phenomenon

I don’t know EP personally, but his opinion strikes me as emblematic of the way in which much of the intellectual and political left behaved during the Covid crisis. And as it’s also my political family, it’s important for me to reply, and I’m grateful to Kairos for allowing me to do so. As a preamble, I’d like to add that I’ve been a supporter and subscriber to Mediapart since its inception, and have kept a blog there for twelve years. I don’t deny any of it. It’s an investigative newspaper, which is essential. But it’s also a newspaper of opinion. He therefore carries out targeted, ideologically-driven investigations. I respect it, and even think it’s inevitable. But everyone also understands the limits that are consubstantial with this approach: you can only find answers to questions you’ve asked yourself. If we refuse to ask certain questions, then we leave part of reality in the dark, and this part that remains obscure is perhaps more important than the part we have brought to light. So the stronger one’s ideological convictions, the more care one should take to ensure that one’s investigation is not partial or even biased.

The best proof of the ideological nature of ED’s position is its inability to put it up for discussion. Although he clearly doesn’t know much about the medical and scientific issues involved, he’s peremptory, self-assured and too proud to admit he might be wrong. It’s commonplace. What’s less clear is that EP has so much (pride) that he’s never been willing to even discuss it. In the epilogue to  volume 2 of my  Covid’s Doxa how I tried to dialogue with the editors of Mediapart, since I was carrying out a large-scale collective survey that was very popular with the newspaper’s readership. But all I got in return was a scornful silence (no reply to my messages offering to discuss), then a lot of aggression on social networks (notably from Fabrice Arfi on Twitter) and finally brutal censorship, which first targeted some of our articles in particular, then my entire blog. Mediapart threatened to close down altogether.

Edwy Plenel’s objective (EP): to destroy Didier Raoult’s credibility (DR)

EP denounced DR’s  » authoritarianism « :  » He’s a Mandarin « , he said back in 2020. And it’s true, it’s a reality. But it’s so widespread in the academic world, particularly in medicine, that it’s surprising to see EP using such an argument. It can’t be naiveté. This means that his thinking is paralysed by emotion. This reflects his very strong animosity towards DR. And that’s the basic mistake a lot of people make. How can we seriously claim to be analyzing a global health crisis and discussing the public policies to be adopted when our thinking is so polluted by questions of individual personality? It’s very bad intellectually. And when sociologists think and act like this (and I know a lot of them), it’s even worse, because it’s profoundly anti-sociological. Imagine taking a position on the evolution of security policies in France, based on my opinion of the personality of a particular top police chief. That would be ridiculous. So to accuse DR of being an ugly authoritarian mandarin is idiotic: medical schools are full of mandarins. It’s sadly commonplace and shouldn’t be an argument.

The « gripette » story is also very hypocritical. Yes DR underestimated the scale of the epidemic and the virulence of Sars-Cov‑2 at the very beginning of February 2020. That’s right. But then again, how hypocritical to blame only him, when virtually all commentators were doing the same at the time. It’s worth remembering that at the end of January 2020 the French Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, was still saying that the virus might not make it out of China, and the WHO was saying that it didn’t know whether human-to-human transmission had been proven. On March 10, 2020, high-profile doctor Michel Cymès again declared on TMC’s Quotidien that  » it remains a viral illness like we get every year « . In short, if most commentators were wrong at the very start of the crisis, then it’s intellectually dishonest to blame just one.

EP’s third mistake: nowhere did DR ever say or write that he had a  » miracle  » cure for Covid. These are the formulas of sensationalist journalists, and EP should know better. DR said that the IHU care protocol rapidly reduced the viral load and thus the risk of the disease worsening, if treated as soon as the first symptoms appeared. And above and beyond the protocol in question, he (along with others, such as Christian Perronne) embodied the resistance of doctors who, for the first time in history, were forbidden by a reputedly democratic government to treat people (« Stay at home, take doliprane »), with terrible mortifying consequences. That was the basic debate (which I tried to emphasize as much as I could): how can we treat people to reduce the number of sick and the number of deaths? However, by focusing all its energy on destroying DR, Mediapart has made a major contribution to preventing an open debate on this crucial issue. He has thus been one of the major players in the great diversion which, in my opinion, is the « Raoult polemic » (see Volume 1 of my Doxa du Covid ).

The reality is that Mediapart has never investigated this question [du vaccin], never organized the slightest contradictory debate on this question and never published any original information on this question.

Edwy Plenel is not familiar with the medical and scientific issues involved.

It’s distressing to hear EP declare that  » we have shown that the vaccine remains the safest form of protection « . The reality is that Mediapart has never investigated this issue, never organized the slightest contradictory debate on it, and never released a single piece of original information on it. Mediapart simply repeated what others were saying. On this subject, he displayed the same conformism and credulity as the other media. And to say the least, it’s another big mistake. Because, as the months go by, everything I’ve written with my team on the subject from summer 2021 onwards is being confirmed. Let me remind you of at least four things.

1) Recent messenger RNA technology has so far only been tested on humans in the context of cancer treatment, with disappointing results. For the past ten years, companies such as Moderna and BioNTech have been pushing for its transfer to the much more lucrative and much less legally regulated production of vaccines, but this had never been tested on humans. We are indeed dealing with an experimental product and a worldwide experiment. And the least we could have done was to adopt an extremely cautious attitude (precautionary principle). Alas, EP is just like all those intellectual and political elites who have no real scientific training and who invoke « Science » with a capital S, as one would invoke a God. It’s an ideological posture. It’s called scientism. But science is not scientism. Science is a process of research and progressive discovery of reality, which sine qua non requires the freedom to investigate, the freedom to express oneself and collective debate. Scientism is a dogma, science is by definition the opposite.

2) The pharmaceutical industry’s criminal practices are well known, and Mediapart has had to deal with several health scandals over the years. Believing in Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine miracle, to the point of preventing even a contradictory debate on the subject, is therefore absolutely confounding naivety and/or dogmatism.

3) in 2021 and 2022, all vaccine propaganda was based on a moral argument, guilt-tripping: « vaccinate yourself to protect others ». However, we wrote back in July 2021 that it was statistically clear that these products in no way prevented people from catching and transmitting the virus, nor from subsequently falling ill with Covid (regardless of the number of doses). You could see it in the statistical data, quite simply. Today, this is an empirical fact that no one can dispute. Pfizer itself admitted to the European Parliament that it had not designed its product for this purpose, and had never tested it in this sense. The moral rhetoric echoed by almost all the media was, in fact, based on… hot air.

I’d say to Edwy Plenel that he’d do well to ask himself a couple of questions from time to time about his attitude during the Covid crisis. You can’t gargle with words like « freedom of the press », « independence », « freedom of expression » and at the same time have such ideological biases and practice such ostracism and censorship of people who don’t think like you do.

4) As early as August 2021, we wrote that all pharmacovigilance databases were reporting an extremely high number of both mild and serious adverse events (AEs). And here again, this is an obvious fact that anyone can verify and that has only been confirmed since. Serious AEs are now well documented in scientific literature, including severe allergies, hypertension, immune system disorders (Guillain-Barré syndromes, for example), thrombosis, menstrual cycle disorders (particularly in young women), heart disease (myocarditis, pericarditis) (particularly in young men), cancer reactivation in older people, paralysis and other neurological disorders… the list goes on. In fact, it is now well established in the scientific literature that Spike protein passes into the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. And I repeat here that the future will be very complicated for all journalists who, for various reasons, don’t have the presence of mind or the courage to put a minimum distance between themselves and the narrative of Western industries and governments. The issue of serious adverse reactions to mRNA therapies is bound to come back to the fore sooner or later, because reality cannot be hidden or disguised forever.

When a self-proclaimed defender of freedom denies it to others

Finally, when EP says that  » Laurent Mucchielli was saying some radically wrong things « , we’d like to know what they are and discuss them. But then again, this is typical of a general rejection, on principle, which reveals that behind the intellectual aspect there is a subjective, emotional or ideological dimension. There were things I had the right to say, and other things I didn’t have the right to say because they were taboo. I have written two books, one with 30 other research and medical colleagues, which total over 700 pages and several hundred scientific references. However, I have never read anywhere an analysis of this work, even a hypercritical one. Once again, there is no contradictory debate and no constructive exchange of arguments. There’s nothing but authoritarian posturing and global ostracism. It’s not intellectually serious, and it’s very serious because the subject is very serious.

To conclude, I’d say to EP that he’d do well to ask himself a couple of questions now and then about his attitude during the Covid crisis. You can’t gargle with words like « freedom of the press », « independence », « need to investigate », « freedom of expression », « whistleblower protection », « critical thinking », « monitoring the actions of the world’s powerful », etc., and at the same time have such ideological biases and practice such ostracism and censorship of people who don’t think like you, all the more so when they claim to have exactly the same values as you! The least you can do is agree to discuss the matter with them quietly. EP refuses to do so, and, as usual, does so while posing as a lecturer. The reality is that, in the face of Mediapart’s dogmatic censorship, I was welcomed by another independent media outlet, Quartier Général, created and directed by Aude Lancelin, which is also very clearly left-wing. And she didn’t do it primarily out of enthusiastic support for this or that of my analyses of the Covid crisis, she did it out of principle or for the principle. So I’ll end by simply saying this to Edwy Plenel: it’s all very well to assert great principles orally, but the only thing that reveals who you are is the way you act when you’re in a situation. And if your actions don’t match your words, then there’s a problem.

Laurent Mucchielli, CNRS Research Director

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