Friday, June 17, 2011


I confess, not without a guilty conscience, to a certain weakness for Laurent Ruquier's various infotainment confections. In the old days there was On n'a pas tout essayé and then there was On n'est pas couché, which plucked Éric Zemmour from obscurity and made him a national object of adulation or opprobrium, depending on your tastes. Recently, Ruquier announced that he was dropping his tandem of chroniqueurs, Zemmour and the other Éric, Naulleau, and now it appears that they will be replaced by Audrey Pulvar (a TV journalist as well as Arnaud Montebourg's petite amie) and Jean-Jacques Bourdin, news chief at RMC.

So what does this change connote? A softer approach to the job, I suspect. I know Pulvar only from having seen her on On n'est pas couché and Bourdin only from the clip below, which nicely contrasts the acidulous style of Zemmour with the ecumenical blandness of Bourdin. There's no doubt that Pulvar will be easier on the eyes than either Zemmour or Naulleau, neither of whom has a face made for television, but the whole interest of the two Érics as commentators was a certain fearless feistiness. Neither man hesitated to tell authors to their face that their books were wretched, but they did it with a certain flair that for the most part rescued the critique from mere nastiness. Zemmour of course earned a reputation as a "neo-reactionary," misogynist, racist, and xenophobe, and there are any number of his statements on the show that were more than regrettable, but it was precisely the omnipresent threat of a sulfurous outburst that lent piquancy to his more substantive critiques, which could be quite intelligent. Naulleau, a less grating personality, could nevertheless be incisive. I found the frankness of both interesting in a country where most printed book reviews are bland and noncommittal. They never left you in doubt about where they stood. To judge by the clip below, Bourdin conceives his role quite differently. But perhaps his new position will draw on a different aspect of his experience.

Zemmour face à Jean-Jacques Bourdin by prince_de_conde


MYOS said...

Both are very biting. Neither is afraid of asking tough questions, silly questions, or questions that will be met with anger. This will be useful during the coming year.
In addition, Pulvar - in my opinion one of the most intelligent journalists in France - lost her job when Montebourg announced he'd be running; at first she made book reviews for inter and she's since disappeared. You can't even say it's a policy for journalists who are partners of primary candidates: Contrast this to Hollande's partner, who also is a journalist, and who hasn't lost her job at all. (Personally, I understand why they may have to switch to a non political program during the campaign, but I certainly don't see why they should lose their job at all, and why it was necessary to sack Pulvar several months before the official primaries!!)

Alex Price said...

The site Nowpublic as "the most important news agency in the US within three years"? Bourdin says he's willing to bet. I wish I could take him up on it; that's a bet I'd take willingly.

Robert said...

Art, maybe Zemmour really has made intelligent critiques over the years and I certainly suspect the guy's no dummy. Then again, look at this exchange with Christiane Taubira ( and tell me whether the guy is the intellectual force so many people purport him to be.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Robert, yes, I couldn't agree more, he can be awful. I think he is a deliberate provocateur. When the subject doesn't lend itself to provocation, however, he can be a shrewd critic. I don't mean to excuse his racism, xenophobia, or misogyny in any way, however.

Cincinna said...

Eric Zemmour is very bright, with a quick cutting wit, knowledge of literature and history, and his own opinions.

Getting rid of him on 'On n'est pas Couche' for absurd PC reasons makes no sense.
To do what, replace the two Erics with a PC panel that toes the line?

What ever happened to free speech, not to mention free thought?

Robert said...

How do you know he's being replaced for PC reasons?

Cincinna said...

" racism, xenophobia, or misogyny" ? A harsh critique for opinions that are contrary to one's own. I sometimes find Zemmour's world view, and his analyses insightful, certainly thought provoking.
I found the woman in the video to be overtly aggressive & hostile (take another look at her body language) offensive, and oh predictable.
Eric Zemmour expresses his own point of view.
Your TV has an off button if you don't like his opinions.
Censorship for reasons of political correctness is a limit on free expression of ideas.