If you’re even remotely interested in French politics, there’s a good chance you’ve come across his name in recent weeks. The hubbub around Eric Zemmour, a presidential candidate who is not running (yet), is hard to miss.
At the same time, the media fury around this non-presidential candidate has shed light on how journalists, television and portals fabricate and hold political figures accountable these days.
Not a day, if not an hour, goes by without French television bringing up the controversy over far-right television, the rise of which in the polls worries both the ruling majority and the Marine Le Pen teams.
Zemmour has achieved the feat of being omnipresent in the public debate, despite a total absence of any program, and even less of an official candidacy.
As a journalist himself, he certainly knows how to take advantage of this situation and woo the spotlight as his story builds towards some kind of climax. As long as he does not present himself officially, he can afford not to offer anything concrete and not to report on it.
In the meantime, it is getting all the media attention, and the numbers are impressive. Since September 1, the name of the far-right “polemicist” – a ubiquitous word in French that has proved useful for the media to qualify Zemmour – has been cited in nearly 14,000 articles in the French press, according to one. to study by the Tagaday platform.
And the sources for those mentions don’t even include the 24-hour news channel CNews, where Zemmour had his own daily slot until the French Audiovisual Observatory demanded that his speaking time be counted down to the same way as the officially nominated candidates.
This, they said, was in the name of political plurality and according to French rules.
If CNews had to get rid of its goose that laid the golden eggs, that did not translate into its disappearance from the airwaves, on the contrary.
From September 7 to October 7, Checknews counted 145 mentions of Zemmour in CNews’ Twitter thread, far ahead of second with 26 mentions, his potential right-wing rival, Marine Le Pen.
As I have already said, this is not an isolated phenomenon: Zemmour has also carved out the lion’s share in the flows of the three other major news channels, BFM TV, LCI and Franceinfo.
This over-presence on social networks is not only anecdotal when we now know that right-wing content benefits from greater “algorithmic amplification”, as Twitter recently reported.
I don’t blame the journalists for this. Instead, I question the importance of the role of journalists in creating such a media figure.
In view of the detailed measures he has filed, or their absence, one can rightly wonder what the over-representation of Eric Zemmour in the media is based on.
Is this his response relevant to the concerns of the French? Or is it because its strategy is in line with the economic model of these channels anxious to keep their audience alert?
That being said, I want reporters to confront him more about his shortcomings and stop following his every move in the hope that he will finally declare himself a candidate for their mic. They should know better now.
Even I find myself in conflict over the thumbs up to which Zemmour is entitled in the media.
I hesitate to relay the words of someone the courts have convicted of “provoking racial discrimination”, of someone who thinks women have an “archaic brain”, of someone who has said that it would prohibit parents from naming their child “Mohammed”, someone who will refuse LGBT associations to do work to fight discrimination in schools.
These are just a few examples as the list grows.
Hopefully the moral dilemma will go one way or the other when he announces he officially runs for president – if he ever does.
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Pay attention to…
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The views are the authors.
[Edited by Alice Taylor/Zoran Radosavljevic]