Saturday, May 28, 2011

DSK's Version of the Banon Affair

According to Mediapart, the author Michel Taubmann, who wrote a political biography of DSK, was persuaded to leave out the Banon allegations by Ramzi Khiroun, DSK's PR flack and fixer, who told him DSK's version. Banon, Khiroun alleged, was angry that DSK had intervened with her editor to have the chapter about him removed from her book "because it was written in a grotesque style." She promised Khiroun that she would avenge herself for this slight, and some time later she told her story to Thierry Ardisson.

Unfortunately for DSK, Banon's editor denies that this ever happened. It also strikes me as rather "grotesque," to borrow an adjective, that an important political figure would employ a fixer to police stories written about him or that an editor would allow the subject of a profile to spike a story on stylistic grounds.


Anonymous said...

It seems that Tristane Banon writes now for The Atlantico, a ferociously pro-Sarko new site.


MYOS said...

No matter who Banon now writes for - and in France, it looks like it doesn't mean much, wasn't Franz Oliver Gisbert at nouvel obs on the left, then at l'express on the right, and many switch? -
well, no matter who she writes for, that Taubman story sounds suspicious - as if someone worried that story might come back to bite DSK in the nose and was taking precautionary measures to sow doubt beforehand.
Except using such ridiculous pretexts would make me more likely to believe the story, because if they had a REAL counterpoint, we'd have learned about it instead.

Mitch Guthman said...

A slight misunderstanding. When I clicked on the link I thought I would get DSK’s denial that he tried to rape Tristane Banon. But no, it's isn't a denial about the attempted rape but about this other, totally irrelevant business. Evidently, DSK’s camp thinks that assigning responsibility for the suppression of the story is the important question and not the fact that he tried to take advantage of this young woman. (Which, apparently, nobody is bothering to deny) This is really disappointing.

Even more disappointing is the fact that so much of the PS's "leadership" is so preoccupied with their various petty feuds and self-indulgent cliques that, seemingly, there is no interest in developing meaningful policies to guide France through this terrible economic crises and to address the other problems confronting Europe such as immigration and the future of the Euro. It’s pathetic! The PS was once the party of ideals, now it’s all about who get to sit at the table with the “cool kids”.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Myos,

Yes, I agree. Tristane Banon seems to be your basic center left, young professional. She needs to work and I don’t think one should read too much into her choice of employers in these tough times. All of the mainstream press hire professional writers and with a very few notable exceptions, nobody seems to require a test of ideological purity as a condition of employment. I could just as easily see her working at Mediapart or Rue 89 or back at Paris Match. I think there is a very broad spectrum of journals where it would be easily to see her being hired without reading anything into it. (Le Point, obviously, might be a bit awkward on a purely personal level).

But it is, nevertheless, an intriguing coincidence given Atlantico’s close connection with the UMP, the fact that they were the one’s to publish the DSK Porsche photos and, most interestingly, the peculiar timing of Jonathan Pinet's “tweet” about the DSK arrest. Also, Atlantico seems to be really (suspiciously) plugged into the NYPD and prosecution case----they seem to know everything before anybody else in either France or the US which suggests that the US authorities are telling the French government the moment anything is known with Sarko’s political commissars immediately relaying everything upon receipt. (Which is my choice). Or maybe they’re ahead of the game because they are playing a different game?

Just an odd place for her to wind up---I wonder if it means that there is now going to be a countervailing pressure from Sarko’s crowd to persuade TB to testify in NYC?

Alex Price said...

Arrêt sur images has a similar story, published a week ago (possibly behind a paywall):

Each of the two stories (on Arrêt sur images and Mediapart) provides details that the other does not.

While it’s possible that Khiroun is telling some part of the truth, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that his account, as told by Taubmann, is misleading at best and is more probably an outright lie.

One issue the Mediapart article doesn’t deal with is the possibility that Banon’s story may have evolved. In an article published last week (sorry, I don’t have the reference at hand), Banon’s editor for “Erreurs avouées” is quoted as saying that the story he recalls Banon telling him did not suggest an encounter as violent as the one she described some years later on Ardisson’s show. There exists thus the theoretical possibility that Banon might have exaggerated the level of violence in her later telling of the story, either to take revenge on DSK, as Khiroun claims, or for other reasons. But that seems unlikely. A thorough investigation, one that interviewed the friends and relatives to whom Banon told her story back in 2002, could settle that question definitively.

meshplate said...

Apropos of DSK and sexual mores in politics in France, I came across a reflection rereading Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being (a book I read first when I was too young for it to leave much of an impression on me):

"The moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful. Having a public in mind, keeping a public in mind, means living in lies." The character recognizes this shortcoming as inevitable since we all live in public more or less, and so defends the need for privacy. "A man who looses his privacy looses everything," she reflects.

The phrase of course brings up the whole question of privacy and private life in politics. The French find it barbaric that anyone should pry into a politician's (or anyone's) private life, a sphere where one should be free to behave as one wishes, whether unethical or not, as long as one doesn't break the law. It seems the French believe that there is a absolute need for privacy because human failings (they don't call them that) are ineradicable and inevitable. In short a right to privacy is the cornerstone of freedom, decency and humanity.

Americans, it seems, have in mind a notion that politicians should behave irreproachably, that a life which is irreproachable is a ideal life.

But is this American idealism simply foolish, naive and even sadistic? Or is there something to it? I can't decide finally. I am not sure that there is a final answer, but it may be that to opt for either option, turning it into a dogma to attack one's enemies is where the problems lie. One should have the privacy to fail, but that surely does not mean that we should therefore always do so.

Anonymous said...

Mitch @ May 28, 2011 8:55 PM, on the PS...
Dead right, the Socialists across much of Europe were, in earlier decades, indeed the parties of enlightenment and social progress, a beacon to the young idealists which many of us once were. Regrettably Socialist parties have lost their shine in the grubby sandpit of power and today are as sleazy, ragged and corrupt as any of their worst opponents. Today, in the EU at least, the elites are watching with fear as populism rises, and they have only themselves to blame.