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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Daniel Schick interviews Fleur Pellerin - racist and misogynistic or simply provocative?

Fleur Pellerin isn't exactly a household name in France - well not yet.

But that could be about to change especially after she was named to the government in June, taking over the portfolio as junior minister for small and medium enterprises, innovation, and the digital economy.

Fleur Pellerin (screenshot Europe 1 interview)

By way of a bit of background, Pellerin is 38 years old, was born in South Korea and abandoned on the streets of the capital Seoul when she was just three or four days old.

At the age of six months she was adopted by a French couple.

She's bright, very bright even - Pellerin passed her baccalaureate aged just 16 - and has the profile typical of a high flier; a graduate from the prestigious École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales (ESSEC business school), Institut d'études politiques de Paris and, of course, the École nationale d'administration.

She has worked at the Cour des comptes (the French court of auditors) and during François Hollande's presidential campaign was his digital economy advisor.

Oh yes - and even though she has never been back since she left, Pellerin is something of a national heroine in South Korea.

Why the potted history?

Well, so that you have a clue as to how talented she is and are able to put into context what was arguably one of the most impertinent beginnings to an interview when she appeared on Europe 1 national radio on Monday.

Just look how journalist Daniel Schick - in an attempt to tease out of Pellerin the reasons behind her appointment - started the interview.

"Do you really know why you were chosen," he asked rhetorically before launching into a number of factors that might or might not have played their part in Hollande's decision.

"Is it because you're an attractive woman from a minority background that's not particularly well represented?" asked Schick

"Is it because you're an example of a successful adoption process or perhaps a strong signal being given to Asian markets," he continued.

"Or is it because you're good at what you do?"

Yes that really was the opening gambit to what, let's face it, could only get better.

Pellerin replied with aplomb that Schick hadn't exactly started the interview off well, in fact quite the opposite.

"You've begun badly," she laughed.

"I would like to think that the president and the prime minister appointed me for my abilities and commitment," she said, before continuing comfortably with the rest of Schick's interview, part of a series which allows listeners to get to know more about an invited guest - and not necessarily along the most conventional of lines.

(Take a listen - it's well worth it)

Schick's rather inelegant start wasn't to the liking of all though, and in particular Laurence Rossignol, a Socialist party senator, who said his questions had been insulting and bordering on racist.

"The misogynist who interviewed Fleur this morning was offensive," she Tweeted.

"Europe 1 should fire him."

And Rossignol wasn't alone in not appreciating the manner in which Schick had begun the interview.

Other reactions on the Internet included "rude", "stupid" and "shamefully macho".

The only person who didn't seem to take any real offence at what had been said was Pellerin herself - both during and afterwards.

She has made no comment.

Schick is known for being provocative - posing the sorts of questions that are bound to displease in a manner which won't always be appreciated - either by the guest or the listeners.

For example early on in an interview with Jean-François Copé, the leader of the centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) a couple of weeks ago Schick "asked" him whether it was really possible to be a political leader without being either paranoid of manipulative - thereby implying that Copé was both.

But did he go just a little too far with Pellerin?

Or is it all right for a journalist - in this case Schick - to ask whatever he or she wants in any manner deemed acceptable or not just to see how capable the interviewee is of handling the situation?

Extrait de l'interview misogyne de Fleur... par LeNouvelObservateur

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Journalists have the right to ask impertinent questions. Or border-line questions. What is interesting I find is that Ms Pellerin handled the questions very well, in a dignified manner. Which proves that she was probably chosen for the job because of her personal qualities, not because of who she is, or what her roots may be. I think that France, in spite of its claims to be a model for "integration", has yet to go through the societal changes that the United States and the UK have gone through, with respect to people of foreign origin. In the end, it is what they are that matters, not where they're from.


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