Sarkozy strategy to control French media agenda

French journalists are concerned that president Nicholas Sarkozy’s appetite for managing the media and his friendships among the media establishment could stifle press freedom, the BBC’s Paris correspondent Emma Kirby writes.

Kirby’s piece follows a news item on the Today programme on 12 January, the day that Sarkozy was due to welcome former PM Tony Blair,  recent romance with pop star Carla Bruni shows he enjoys going public.

But while the French media have followed teach new twist and turn of his private life, Jean Louis Missika, a media analyst believes Sarkozy’s strategy is to saturate the media leaving no space for the opposition or for the media to cast a more critical eye over his performance in government.

Sarkozy enjoys a closer relationship with the media than any other French president but there are concerns among journalists about the extent to which he is dictating the agenda – and using stories about his relationship to ‘bury’ bad news.

Thierry Saussez, who has worked with Nicolas Sarkozy since the late 1980s tells Kirby that the president enjoys keeping the press on its toes.

“If you are on the go all the time without ever stopping, you force the media to follow you, because there is always a competition between the media and the politician as to who will set the agenda,” he told her. 

The Times’ Charles Bremner reports speculation about the president’s marriage and says his “displays of affection for Ms Bruni in opulent settings and haste to marry for a third time are partly blamed for a slump in his popularity”.

Links: Sarkozy accused of pressuring media to prevent debate 

Sarkozy media circus overshadowing EU warn MEPs 

Sarkozy’s new love turns ‘private’ holiday into media extravaganza  

Paris discovers its playboy president 

French media seek freedom from power of President 

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