Friday, April 4, 2008


Yesterday I praised Rue89. Today I must criticize it. Philippe Kieffer's review of a book by Olivier Duhamel and Michel Field on Sarkozy and the media, Le Sarkozysme, has a pretty title, to be sure--"Sarko-trafiquants"--yet it traffics in the same banalities as the media it accuses of being the accros who enable Sarko to go on "dealing," if I may borrow the review's conceit. And so we are treated to yet another recital of the symbolic accoutrements of Sarkozysme: "Ses pompes. Ses œuvres. Ses Ray-Ban, son Fouquet’s, sa Rolex..." And who exactly transformed these now familiar commodities into regalian paraphernalia as recognizable as orb and scepter? Why, the media, of course. And who better to unmask the process of transformation than two journalists who specialize in "mediology"? Who better to praise their skill at the task than yet another journalist, writing in yet another medium, digital print? The snake can go on eating its tail forever, while we bloggers, like a swarm of ants clearing detritus from the jungle floor, feed on the fuss.

Surely there are more revealing ways to approach the question of Sarkozy and the media. One might ask, for example, why there has been so little exploration by the media of the consequences of the reforms introduced in the first 100 days? How have firms actually responded to the detaxation of overtime? We've heard little apart from a triumphalist announcement by Christine Lagarde and the occasional debunking comment from this or that economist. How about an extensive survey of CEOs? What has actually changed in the universities? The media covered the reforms, Sarko's intervention, and the strikes, but since then? I mentioned Patrick Weil's op-ed the other day, but surely an enterprising reporter could collect the views of university presidents, faculty members, students, parents of students. What about the reduction of the ISF, or wealth tax? Have entrepreneurial energies been unleashed? Can one point to a single start-up attributable to the reform? Has any firm established abroad by a French entrepreneur returned home because of the reduction of the fiscal shield to 50 percent?

One could go on in this vein for quite a while. But why should a politician shun the quick high of the effet d'annonce when journalists waste their time rehashing the shooting-up without ever returning to Needle Park to describe the nodding derelicts the morning after? After such a party, ordinary journalism seems too much like dreary work. But must we endure the sermons of those who claim they mingled on intimate terms with the revelers yet never inhaled?


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. Media denounced a trap into which they fall every day : blame Sarkozy's bling-bling to which they devote dozens of pages. It must be noticed that these pages sell very well.

For the rest, they just mainly talk about the famous "paquet fiscal" without ever having taken time to evaluate its effects.

Anonymous said...

You describe an approach to journalism that has never existed in France. The few pale efforts in that direction in the past have been snuffed by the financial decline at Le Monde (the best of the lot) and Libé and the suck-up ownership at other papers. I don't detect any commitment at any of the papers to much except political loyalty and the headlines that seem designed to keep party membership up to date. As for the weeklies, it didn't take Sarkozy or Carla for them to expand the rubrics they call "Ces Gens-là," or even "People."

Fr. said...

Isn't the book called Le Starkozysme (additional t)?