Was it something I said?

There’s a bit of buzz surrounding the fact that French President Nicolas Sarkozy stormed out of an interview with CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ current affairs show. Up until yesterday we knew that Sarko had walked out on the interview but we now know why – a question about his wife was asked.

Waffler is not a huge fan of Sarko (he would have liked to see Royal in the Elysee Palace), but there is no doubt that trashy American journalism, rather than Sarko’s disdain for the interview and his press secretary was the main reason behind the walkout. Here in Ireland, we do know all about the gulf of difference between European journalism and that which sets the standard in the US, thanks in large part to the interview between RTÉ’s Carole Coleman and George W Bush which set pulses racing on both sides of the Atlantic. Unluckily for Sarko’s press secretary, who actually thought – like I did – that ’60 Minutes’ was a serious current affairs programme, what they got was tabloid headline-grabbing.

Let us look at this logically. If Bush and Laura got into a little bit of bother and their relationship hit the rocks, the last thing that the White House would need would be nosey journalists like Lesley Stahl. Would CBS draft the same line of questioning with Dubya? And it’s clear from the CBS Promo that the producers had been planning on profiling Sarkozy’s fondness for all things American. (Shock horror, a Frenchman who liked ‘Freedom Fries’) But a foray into the world of personal lovelives wasn’t on the agenda for the French President.

There is no doubt that any divorce is an extremely traumatic time for all those involved. A divorce in the public domain is something far more traumatic. It is quite right for Sarkozy to state that if he was to say anything on the subject of his then wife, he wasn’t going to divulge in it on an American ‘current affairs’ show. The reaction of Stahl told all about the nature of the question she was placing to the President. “What’s going on?” queried Stahl. “But there’s a great mystery. Everyone is asking; even your press secretary was asked about it.” Ooooohhhh well if the press secretary is being asked then Sarkozy must react to it!

This is not journalism. It’s trashy, sensationalist tripe that belongs in the gutter. When it’s a painful divorce, and you know it’s a painful divorce you do not ask about it. And you don’t react like Stahl did – by being shocked at his resistance to the question. Shocking.

Have a look at the video –

And for contrast’s sake, here’s a proper interview –

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~ by waffler on October 30, 2007.

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