French news website Atlantico published an article on April 20th entitled “After the canal boat, Mélenchon’s ‘rebellious’ jet: a trip between friends (in luxury)”. The article was lambasted on social media because of its copying of excerpts of an article on the same subject by French spoof website Le Gorafi. Atlantico defended itself in a statement where it assured it “never deliberately wished to use Le Gorafi as a serious source, nor did it present it as such”.
Atlantico is often presented as a ‘right-wing Mediapart’ (Mediapart is a French online investigative and opinion journal), but which claims “guaranteed 0% pre-established ideological standpoints.” Atlantico affirms that Mélenchon “travels in business class”, “because he has back problems”. The website is surprised by the “behavioral discrepancy between what Mélenchon wishes for ‘the people’ and what he accords himself.”
The section of the article highlighted on social media makes reference to a 2013 article by Le Gorafi entitled “Jean-Luc Mélenchon explains himself after buying a private jet for the Left Party”, without mentioning that the article was a parody. Readers were also surprised by the lack of credit to the article’s author, Xavier Prague on any other article of the website.
Jean-Sébastien Ferjou, Atlantico’s founder, told CrossCheck partner LCI.fr that it was the “pseudo of an investigative journalist”. In his statement, he cites “stylistic clumsiness” and “the accidental publication of a non-finalized version”.
“The only part that matters is the end of the article, the part about the real jet”, he concludes. On February 4th, 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon “travelled to Basel (Switzerland) to attend the commemorative day for the abolition of slavery in Champagney (near the Franco-Swiss border)”, writes Atlantico, which published the flight plan for the Paris-Basel flight by AstonJet, on which the candidate’s name appears. This flight plan was added to the article later, as were many other changes made on April 20th. Contacted by Buzzfeed, a CrossCheck partner, AstonJet “does not confirm, nor denies” the information. Yet, the French newspaper Libération received confirmation of the landing of the cited plane at Basel airport on February 4th.