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Sarkozy, Bettencourt & the media: my comments on Al-Jazeera

Al-Jazeera English recently approached me to comment on a story about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Bettencourt Affair and the government’s influence on French media. The background story can be found here and the video report here. I’ve also embedded the video below.

The French story goes from 12:25 to 20:36, with my comments featured from 19:33 to 19:56. It was edited of course, so I’ve posted my original full comments below the video (my goal being to provide a balanced perspective). Very interesting story for a quality news organization, so I was glad to contribute.

My full comment, pre-edited:

Many people have accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of interfering in the press to advance his personal agenda and those of his administration.

Mr. Sarkozy indeed has close friends who control a significant portion of the media (newspapers, magazines, TV and radio). They include Arnaud Lagardère, Serge Dassault, Martin Bouygues, Bernard Arnault and François Pinault. Mr. Sarkozy also holds sway at France Televisions, the state-run TV company.

Most recently his government has been accused of spying on journalists and their sources at Le Monde who helped uncover the alleged Bettencourt scandal. The government denies any wrongdoing in this affair.

So while Sarkozy does hold sway in the media, there remains a healthy presence of leftwing and moderate media that is critical of his administration. So what emerges is a delicate political balance that could be threatened if allegations of wrongdoing prove correct.

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