This is a really good article in The Guardian reporting on last night’s ‘Debate’. I know Chrisafis is (a) French, (b) a professional journalist and (c) had well over 90 minutes more than me before filing. But the piece is a healthily hubristic reminder – to someone who occasionally thinks he’s hit upon a moderately elegant turn of phrase – that I’ve still got ‘way to go’.
For those who like a bit of a listen with their cuppa, here’s a few minutes of Jim Naughtie from Today at 1:34:00 (I have no idea as to Naughtie’s command of French) delivered with inestimable BBC even-handedness. Maybe the BBC is doing no more than reflecting The New Normal, ie the Front National’s a political party like any other.
And, to finish, a report on the BBC’s website from one of their correspondents.
Long after most will have stopped watching, BFMTV had a quick interview with Le Pen. She, Trump-like, said how much she regretted the fact that Macron had lied throughout the evening and been so offensive during the debate. She said he was clearly unable to take a lively exchange – showing how unfit he was to become President. However she, of course, had for years been subjected to non-stop, virulent attacks and she had learnt how to deal with them. She was much calmer than she had been throughout the evening.
Were you watching?
Actually, the answer in a lot of cases (rather surprisingly) is ‘probably not’.
During the day yesterday, radio chatter had been all about the likelihood of at least 20 million people watching, possibly even upwards of 25 million. Yet this morning’s figures from Médiamétrie (pontificator on these arcane matters) say that ‘only’ 16.5 million watched.
This compares with the audience for the 1996 Jospin-Chirac debate (16.8 million), but is well below both 2007’s Sarkozy-Royal (20.1 million) and the 2012 Hollande-Sarkozy (17.8 million) debates. This is, seemingly, the lowest audience for a Presidential debate.
Even 9.8 million had (six weeks ago) watched the 1st Presidential Debate between the leading 5 candidates on TF1.
Perhaps more than anticipated got glued to Monaco v Juventus?
The 2 presenters (the political editors of TF1 and France 2) have received some stick for not having stepped in more and forced a debate. However, Saint-Cricq (France 2) said today she was ‘frustrated … but not aggrieved … We had no right to intervene … We underestimated a debate with the Front National. It’s not an ordinary political party. Marine Le Pen proved that again last night … One definitely cannot treat the Front National like any other Party.’ [No obligation here, then, for inscrutable BBCesque impartiality’.] Criticised on social media, Saint-Cricq referred back to the 2012 debate when the presenters were criticised for being ‘a silent film’.
La Une de La Press
A few front page leads from national and regional newspapers:
- ‘Macron resists and prevails over Le Pen’ (centre-right Le Figaro)
- ‘Marine Le Pen: The Strategy of The Lie’ (centre-left Le Monde)
- ‘Tendu et attendu‘ [Tense and long-awaited] (L’Ardennais)
- ‘Du débat au pugilat‘ [From debate to fist-fight] (La Charente Libre)
- ‘Knives drawn’ (Le Courrier Picard)
- ‘High tension – live’ (L’Est éclair)
- ‘Domestic fight’ (L’Union – Reims newspaper)
- ‘Tit for tat’ (freebie 20 Minutes)
- ‘Employment, security, Europe … Who was the most convincing? … No Presidential Debate has ever been so sharp’ (popular Aujourd’hui en France)
- ‘Le Pen – Macron debate: daggers drawn’ (Ouest France)
- ‘Marine Le Pen multiplied the attacks and provocations, so avoiding any debate on principles with Emmanuel Macron who played the card of reason’ (left Libération)
- ‘Catholics face the vote … For Round 2 the faithful have divergent positions, while the French Conference of Bishops refuses to take sides’ (Catholic La Croix)
- ‘The future of Air France in the pilots’ hands’ (business Les Echos – next to a pic of the 2 under the headline ‘Macron retaliates effectively against Le Pen’)
For those wanting to see a few more – they’ll have been replaced by the morrow.
NOTE TO FRANCOPHONES. Help please. What on earth is Libé‘s (I assume witty) headline Basse Du Front meant to convey?
Foolish MP in Israel … no-one cares
Oren Hazan (MP in Netanyahu’s Likud party): 1st Israeli politician to support Le Pen
Intelligent religious leaders in France … I hope lots care
Clavairoly (President, Protestant Federation of France), Kbibech (President, French Muslim Council) and Korsia (Chief Rabbi of France) have issued a joint declaration calling for a vote for Macron ‘so that, through the ballot box, the France that is generous, tolerant and open to the world should win through’.
[It will be noticed that the religious leaders of upwards of three-quarters (?) of France have played no part in this appeal. Often quick to speak, could it be the large numbers of their flock who vote Le Pen that brings this reticence? Although Archbishop Barbarin of Lyon – surrounded by many other Christian clergy – said yesterday that ‘if the Front National’s programme were implemented’ that would be ‘disastrous’ and reminding everyone that they always fight against ‘discrimination, inequality, violence, xenophobia and the language of hate which fractures our society’.]