Chirac's second thoughts on media glasnost

After President Jacques Chirac's two-hour television grilling on Thursday night, the Elysee could be forgiven for having second thoughts about its elaborate exercise to engage the President in a "real dialogue' with the people. For the first time, the high, protective walls guarded by the country's political media establishment were breached, a measure of glasnost came to French political broadcasting - and the result was not to the President's advantage.

In place of the flag, anthem and a respectful, almost reverential, tone, Mr Chirac was introduced with racy film-clips contrasting his election promises with his performance in office and asked to defend him- self. Instead of deferentially open questions of traditional presidential broadcasts, Mr Chirac was asked real questions, the sort the French "man or woman on the metro" asks, but which political interviewers on French television avoid.

"Why is the country in such a mess?" "Why did you attack technocrats during your presidential campaign, but now surround yourself with them?" "What about the political corruption cases, including those of your own Gaullist party?"

When, as with the corruption question, Mr Chirac veered off in another direction, he was hauled back to address the specific point. The two younger interviewers even had the tem- erity to try the odd interruption.

To British eyes and ears accustomed to the aggressive questioning of politicians on the Today programme or Newsnight, Mr Chirac had an easy ride. No one was trying to catch him out, no one was trying to make him say anything he did not want to say. Even so, the decision to bring to the interview-ing table journalists from out- side France's closed political media clique was a bold step, engineered largely by Mr Chirac's daughter, Claude. She masterminded his appeal to the youth vote during the presidential campaign and has since done her utmost to update the way the president is packaged.

Bringing the presentation up to date, however, means the President, too, has to adapt - and the evidence is that there is still some way to go. As some critics of Mr Chirac's performance said yesterday, it was as though Mr Chirac was a spectator of his own government, as though he had nothing to do with decisions taken and could applaud or deplore the government's performance at will.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before