Economist: Privacy in France: Rumours test the votersâ€™ indifference to their leadersâ€™ private lives
The Economist reports on an investigation into rumors about the personal lives of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni:
A rumour about the presidential coupleâ€™s alleged extramarital romances has for weeks been met by official silence and by disdain in Franceâ€™s traditional media. This week, however, a presidential adviser talked of an â€œorganised plotâ€ to destabilise Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni. His lawyer said a judicial inquiry was looking into whether the original author had been â€œmanipulatedâ€. […]
It appears that they started as idle tweets that were picked up by the foreign press only after they were referred to in a blog on the Journal du Dimancheâ€™s website. The Paris public prosecutor is now investigating, after the group that owns the newspaper filed a lawsuit for â€œfraudulent entry of information into a computer systemâ€. Two people at the groupâ€™s website subsidiary have â€œresignedâ€. […]
French tradition, combined with the countryâ€™s strong privacy laws, once dictated that the public interest stopped at the bedroom doorâ€”even when newsrooms were in the know. FranÃ§ois Mitterrand kept secret for years a daughter he had out of wedlock and then lodged at the stateâ€™s expense. Today, however, those rules have been thrown out. The growth of an American-style celebrity culture has raised the pressure to publish first and pay the penalty later. With tight privacy laws, public figures often sue even when a story is true.