Last week, during a raucous May Day protest, the gilets jaunes ransacked Paris's Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital. Thirty-two protesters were arrested. This was an 'attack' by 'anti-capitalist, ultra-left militants', according to France's interior minister Christophe Castaner.
Except it wasn't. Video footage of the incident clearly shows the protesters seeking refuge as they are chased by scores of police officers firing tear-gas grenades and beating them with batons. The protesters were all released without charge and the interior minister was forced to row back on his claim.
Baseless smears of this kind against the gilets jaunes, whether from the media or the government, are nothing new. From the moment the protests began in November 2018, the government immediately denounced the yellow vests as far-right thugs. A month later, President Macron used his New Year's message to brand the protesters a 'hate-filled crowd', who attack 'elected representatives, the forces of law and order, journalists, Jews, foreigners, homosexuals'. Numerous mainstream media outlets allege that protesters have been 'fueled' and 'manipulated' by Vladimir Putin.