Are cheating politicians now fair game for the French press?
French President Francois Hollande (L) and first lady Valerie Trierweiler accompany guests following a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris in this October 1, 2013 file photo. REUTERS PhotoA tabloid magazine on Friday claimed to have caught President François Hollande having an affair with a famous actress. It was an unprecedented move in France, where the press have traditionally turned a blind eye to politicians’ romantic escapades.
Hollande quickly slammed the report* as an attack on his right to privacy, and said that he was “looking into possible action, including legal action” against the French tabloid magazine that published the photos.
But Hollande, who lives with his partner, former political journalist Valérie Trierweiler, did not specifically deny the allegations.
Exposing leaders’ infidelities and trawling through their private lives may be commonplace in the United States and Britain, but in France such stories have largely remained a no-go area for the media, even the tabloids.
Right to privacy?
French law strictly protects the individual’s right to privacy and the French public are largely in agreement with this position.
However, in recent years, the French media has shifted in its policy on reporting on politician’s private lives.
By targeting Hollande so openly this week, the taboo appears to have been completely shattered.
Matthew Fraser, a lecturer at the prestigious Science Po University in Paris and who has widely written about the media industry, believes that the magazine is engaged in an interesting test.
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