Ted Koppel is a widely respected newsman, but this week in an NPR interview he channeled crazy right-wing Congressman Alan West who has been widely ridiculed for claiming that 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are members of the Communist Party. The standard form of this smear has been to claim that members of the Progressive Caucus are members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Again and sadly, untrue. The inability of the far right to distinguish between liberals, progressives, democratic socialists, and Communists is a habitual deficiency that is, I suspect, scoffed at by the elite media like Koppel and NPR.
Koppel was talking about Sunday's French Presidential election, but he showed a similar ignorance of French politics. Here is what Koppel said, after a week in France preparing for a special report for NBC.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is the communist, who runs the leftist front way on the fringes - huge rallies, Neal, with tens of thousands of French communists who are coming out there.Melenchon, however, is not a Communist. He is not even a former Commununist. He is a former member of the French Socialist Party. He was a Minister of Vocational Education is a Socialist government and former Socialist Senator. In 2008, Melenchon and others on the left the SP, exited and formed the Left Party, which is democratic socialist in its orientation. The Left Party has formed an electoral alliance with the much diminished Communist Party and other smaller groups. That does not make Melenchon a Communist and it does not make the hundreds of thousands who have attended his rallies Communists. It should also be added that there are at least two Presidential candidates more on the left fringe than Melenchon.