The Dreyfus affair ranks as one of the most significant historical events of Europe prior to WWI and WWII; some historians have gone so far as to claim the Dreyfus affair resulted in the rise of fascism itself and to the Vichy. The facts, as far as they can be ascertained, concern a jewish artillery officer, Dreyfus, accused of spying for "le boche"---the Germans, France's mortal enemies---and passing on info regarding a cannon, I believe. Dreyfus was found guilty and sent to Devil's Island off of French Guinea for a few years, and it's quite probable that he was framed, and the evidence manipulated (though it's not entirely clear). The Dreyfusards were the supporters of Dreyfus, and included many leftists and intellectuals, and most famously the novelist Zola, a writer "who delights in stinking" said Nietzsche, (a few years prior to Dreyfus, and a few years before FN succumbed to madness, whether natural or syphillitic). Those who held him to be guilty, were the anti-Dreyfusards.
Current opinion (including that of Wiki, as well as Jeff Jacoby, who has recently penned an op-ed ode to Dreyfus and Zola's pro-Dreyfus broadside, "J'accuse!" demanding justice, etc.) holds that the anti-Dreyfusards were made up of the usual french-right suspects: catholics, royalists, militarists, bourgeois, proto-Vichy, cheese-eating surrender monkeys fond of infant-cannibalism, who knows what. That is not entirely correct. The anti-Dreyfusards had every reason to believe that Dreyfus was guilty. Moreover,
We here at Contingencies are not exactly defending the French right (though they, even a La Pen, are hardly scarier than the French "la gauche"). Some of the extreme anti-Dreyfusards did later join the Vichy parties, and were rabidly anti-semitic (though even that does not imply they would have approved of Auschwitz---). Others rightly noted that the Dreyfus affair was not sufficient cause for the outrage of Zola and his leftist pals (in typical french marxist fashion, Zola and Co. had no problem defending a wealthy jewish officer when it advanced their cause). Jacoby, in the usual corporate Lib-Speak, terms Zola's rant "part investigative reportage, part impassioned advocacy." Really it was mostly impassioned nonsense with some impassioned rage at all things French, "ressentiment" as Nietzsche might term it.
The Dreyfus affair indeed bears some resemblance to many modern media scandals (say something like Scooter Libby): a slight injustice becomes a rallying cry for a few journalists (and journalism and zionism have, for years, been quite comfy), and creates a near-panic situation. Facts are ignored by all sides (including by the right), and the herd mind takes over. Eventually it's settled by tank divisions, like those of Jodl and Zhukov (...........to be continued).