France’s ‘Racistly Nationalistic’ Le Pen ‘Modeling Her Campaign on Donald Trump’

On Monday’s NBC Today, while reporting on the results of the first round of France’s presidential election, Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel made no secret of his distaste for one of the candidates as he accused her of running a “xenophobic” campaign that she was “modeling” on Donald Trump.

After noting at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour that Sunday’s election reduced a field of 11 candidates down to two, Engel fretted that one of the contenders, Marine Le Pen, was “far-right, anti-immigration, she’s considered xenophobic, many have accused her of being racistly nationalistic.” Following that harsh description, he added: “She’s modeling her campaign on Donald Trump.”

In an earlier report on the morning show, Engel touted how supporters of “center-left” candidate Emmanuel Macron were hoping he could “bring a new life and energy to France.” The reporter then bemoaned how Le Pen was “his polar opposite,” who “is anti-immigration, wants out of the EU, to drop the Euro, and has been taking a page from the strategy book of President Trump.”

Desperately trying to make the results of the French election a referendum on Trump, Engel smugly asserted: “Analysts say Macron has the clearest path to victory and that following Trump may have actually worked against Le Pen.” A soundbite followed of French political commentator Pierre Haski declaring: “Trump was a counterexample for France. People have been looking at the – what’s happening in the U.S. with very critical eyes.”

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Wrapping up that segment, Engel hopefully proclaimed: “There has been a trend in global politics towards nationalism, first with Brexit, then President Trump’s election. France could be where that trend comes to an end.”

On Thursday, following a terrorist attack in Paris, Daily Beast editor Christopher Dickey took to MSNBC worry that Le Pen would “exploit this to the maximum if the shooter...turns out to have been an immigrant or the child of immigrants in any way, shape, or form, or a Muslim in any way, shape, or form. Because she is running a very anti-Muslim, very anti-immigrant campaign...”

Here are transcripts of Engel’s April 24 reports:

7:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Also this morning, the world is reacting to results from a critical election in France. Two outsiders have won the opening round of voting to decide the country’s next president. NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Paris for us. Hi, Richard, good morning.

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning, Savannah. French voters rejected the establishment. There were 11 candidates, they’ve been whittled down to two, and the ruling parties that have governed in France from the left and right for decades were thrown out.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: All Eyes on French Election; Runoff Between Right-Winger Le Pen and Centrist Macron]

Amid high security, millions came out to vote across France. Turnout was 78% in what’s considered the most important election in decades. And it was a nail-biter. Too close to call until the results came in. Emmanuel Macron is now the frontrunner to be the next French president. This is his first campaign. Supporters are hoping the 39-year-old banker from the center-left can bring a new life and energy to France. “We will win it,” he promised, “Long live France!”

He faces his polar opposite, Marine Le Pen, from the far-right. Trailing by just a few percent, Le Pen is anti-immigration, wants out of the EU, to drop the Euro, and has been taking a page from the strategy book of President Trump. “It’s time for the French people to be free of the arrogant elite,” she said, promising to close borders and stop terrorism.

The two candidates will face each other in a runoff in two weeks. Analysts say Macron has the clearest path to victory and that following Trump may have actually worked against Le Pen.

PIERRE HASKI [POLITICAL COMMENTATOR]: Trump was a counterexample for France. People have been looking at the – what’s happening in the U.S. with very critical eyes.

ENGEL: So now, with two weeks to go, France is at a crossroads. There has been a trend in global politics towards nationalism, first with Brexit, then President Trump’s election. France could be where that trend comes to an end. Matt and Savannah, back to you.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Richard Engel in Paris, thank you.

(...)

8:04 AM ET

MATT LAUER: French voters rejected mainstream candidates on Sunday in the first round of their presidential election. That raises the stakes for a dramatic face-off coming next month. NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Paris on this story. Richard, good morning to you.

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning. As you said, the French elections take place in two stages, the first vote was this weekend, there were 11 candidates, they got whittled down to two. And the two remaining candidates, who face off against each other in two weeks, couldn't be more different. The frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, he’s 39 years old, he’s an economist, he's trying to present himself as a modernizer full of energy who’s gonna boost the economy here but not radically change French society.

He’s facing Marine Le Pen, who is perhaps his polar opposite. From the far-right, anti-immigration, she’s considered xenophobic, many have accused her of being racistly nationalistic. She’s modeling her campaign on Donald Trump.

The two are very close in the polls, but most experts in this country say in two weeks time, when the French people vote for the second and final time to choose their president, it will likely be Emmanuel Macron.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Richard Engel, thank you very much.

CyberAlerts Campaigns & Elections France Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats NBC Today Video Richard Engel Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron