Loïc de La Mornais "surprised by the restraint of the police" at the Capitol
Loïc de La Mornais, correspondent for France Télévisions in Washington, returns for "20 Minutes" on the very noticed direct that he provided for Franceinfo from the Capitol
- On Wednesday, journalist Loïc de La Mornais and image reporter Thomas Donzel were among the crowd of Trumpists on Capitol Hill in Washington. One of their direct on Franceinfo stunned viewers.
- "I am not going to play the bravado and tell you that we were very relaxed, but we did not feel particularly in danger", ensures Loïc de la Mornais at 20 Minutes.
- “It was a page of history. We were amazed to enter what is the sacred temple of American democracy so easily, ”he also said.
The sequence lasts nearly ten minutes and it is already one of the TV images of the year. On Wednesday, Loïc de La Mornais, France Televisions correspondent in Washington, and image reporter (JRI) Thomas Donzel were at the heart of the action, on the outskirts of the Capitol, among pro-Trump protesters and the forces of the order. Live on Franceinfo, they showed the chaos and confusion reigning on the spot to dumbfounded viewers - some 2.7 million people, according to Laurent Guimier, the head of the news of France Televisions, followed the edition special of the public service news channel. Loïc de La Mornais looks back on this moment for 20 Minutes.
Your direct has aroused a large number of admiring reactions on social networks, the French media have devoted articles to it… Did you expect it to make so much talk?
Honestly, without false modesty, that surprises me a bit. Moments of history, we have the extreme privilege of them regularly in our career, that is why we chose this profession. It was not a time when I was afraid or struggling to do my job. It was obviously a bit tense, but with Thomas Donzel, the JRI who accompanied me, we experienced much more dangerous situations, in war reporting missions, for example. What was great is that when the 19/20 and 8 p.m. air, it's 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. here in Washington. The big queen editions of France Télévisions are therefore in the middle of the day and the afternoons are white afternoons for us if a big event happens. For that, it's great to have Franceinfo which puts us on American time. It was great yesterday [Wednesday] to have all this latitude and this large beach during which we could intervene and bring news and history to life.
What was captivating was seeing you so close to these barely believable events ...
Yes, the symbol was very strong. It was a page of history. We were amazed to enter what is the sacred temple of American democracy so easily. We had been there before but duly accredited. There was no resistance from the police, whereas in the United States there is great respect, even fear, of the uniform.
There weren't a lot of guns around us, because in Washington they are not allowed to be carried on public roads. I think that's potentially what avoided a bloodbath.
You had easy access to the Capitol, however, there were not a large number of journalists by your side, how do you explain it?
There wasn't a lot of American media. They often take less risk. I'm not saying that the French take more, but in general, it's something I've noticed, the American teams are very professional, real machines, but in this type of event, they don't. do not go most to the heart of the action. They have security and protection concerns, undoubtedly with standards higher than ours. Afterward, there are journalists who entered, photographers… It should also be seen that it is not as easy as a journalist to shoot in a crowd of white-hot Trumpists. We, as French television, arouse both their resentment and their hatred because we are the emblem of what they vomit, that is to say, a country that they see as "socialist and Communist". But they are also interested in having our outside perspective on their country, so they can have a little tolerance due to the fact that we are foreigners.
What was surprising was to see you keep your cool, stay very placid while you were surrounded by such commotion. Weren't you afraid at any time?
I'm not going to play the bravado and tell you that we were very relaxed, but we didn't feel particularly in danger. There weren't a lot of guns around us, because in Washington they are not allowed to be carried on public roads. I think that's potentially what avoided a bloodbath. I was surprised by the police restraint. At first, I was convinced that I was going to be beaten with a baton on the head and that we would be manhandled, but that was not the case. We were pushed hard, but they didn't hit as much.
Is that what allowed you to hold the air without stopping?
There are four things to pay attention to at such times. The first is to focus on what you have to say because you are alive. You have to find the right words and not get too emotional. There was unrest, but it was not a civil war. The second thing is to be very careful with the JRI. You have to imagine the scene: Thomas Donzel was like a work animal. He held the camera, he carried in front of him, on his stomach, his bag filled with equipment, including the TVU Pack which is our means of distribution, and which is the equivalent of a shoebox. Thomas could not see anything: his eye was riveted on his eyecup to film me, he was not able to see a blow which would have arrived from one side or the other. We were on the terraces of the Capitol, he could have been drawn into a crowd movement, topple over and fall ten meters lower. This is why I ended up grabbing him firmly so that we are not separated and to guide him.
Third thing: I watch, for him as for me, the Trumpist militants around who can be violent. And fourth thing: I look behind my shoulder at the police cordon pushing us, trying to gauge if the police response is violent, in which case the life will start to become suicide, or if I can continue to speak by showing that I obey the injunctions of the police. We were especially lucky that, even if the transmission passes, even if it was not optimal. We didn't think she would pass through all this crowd.