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Friday, 8 June 2012

An impossible match? Female broadcast journalists and politicians, Audrey Pulvar

Being the wife or partner of a leading (male) politician in France is a minefield at the best of times.

But when the woman in question also happens to be a journalist working for either TV or radio, and she specialises is politics...well, it seems she's virtually guaranteed a hard time.

Audrey Pulvar has become the latest victim of the "oh you're the partner of a high-ranking politician so you can't possibly do your job properly" club.

Audrey Pulvar (screenshot "On n'est pas couché")

Pulvar is the partner of the newly-appointed industrial renewal minister Arnaud Montebourg and has had a permanent slot on the Saturday night talk show "On n'est pas couché" on France 2.

It's essentially an entertainment  programme in which Pulvar is one of two panellists  - along with Le Figaro journalist Natacha Polony - giving invited guests - often politicians, but not always - a grilling.

Pulvar and Polony act as a sort of Left-Right double team.

But there's a problem as far as the president of France Télévisions, Rémy Pflimlin, is concerned - certainly when it comes to Pulvar.

It's one that involves a potential conflict of interest and ethics: Pflimlin would prefer Pulvar to refrain from interviewing politicians, in effect rendering her role useless.

So Pulvar is leaving the show and not without a certain irony and bitterness as expressed in a Tweet.

"Thank you to everyone," she wrote. "I've no doubt now that the profession of journalism has been rehabilitated and the media has once again become objective."

In a real sense Pulvar surely has every right to carry a grudge because she seems to be paying the price for Montebourg's political career.

She has already had to give up her weekday morning programme on France Inter radio.

And last year, when Montebourg declared himself a candidate in the Socialist party primary, the all-news channel I>Télé cancelled Pulvar's political show.

Of course down the years, Pulvar is far from being the only female broadcast journalist in France forced to put her career on hold because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Back in 1997 Anne Sinclair stepped down from presenting the weekly news and political magazine "7 sur 7" on TF1 when her husband, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (as if you needed telling that) became finance minister.

In 2007 it was the turn of France 2's weekend anchor Béatrice Schönberg to call it a day. The presidential elections hadn't yet taken place but her husband, Jean-Louis Borloo, was one of the names being touted as a possible future prime minister under a Nicolas Sarkozy-presidency.

In fact the year wasn't a good one for female broadcast journalists because another one, Marie Drucker, was put on extended leave from her job as an anchor on France 3.

The reason? Well at the time she was the partner of François Baroin, the man who was appointed interior minister after Sarkozy launched his presidential campaign and was required to resign.

Drucker and Baroin didn't last and she was re-instated and eventually moved over to France 2.

Christine Ockrent was perhaps the "exception that proved the rule" in retaining her job at France 3 and being allowed to present a political magazine even when her other half, Bernard Kouchner accepted the post of foreign minister.

But often women journalists working for TV and radio and who are married to, or living with, prominent politicians seem to have their professional objectivity questioned.

That doesn't necessarily seem to be the case over in print journalism - at least not as long as they steer clear of politics.

François Hollande's partner, Valérie Trierweiler has managed to keep her post at Paris Match where she's a political journalist, although her first piece since becoming France's first lady narrowly avoids controversy by focussing on a woman - Eleanor Roosevelt - with whom any possible resemblance is "purely coincidental" according to L'Express.

A portent of things to come perhaps from Trierweiler.

And over at the financial daily Les Échos, Valérie de Senneville, the wife of the newly-appointed employment minister Michel Sapin, is hoping to be able to hold on to her job.

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