'Oyster munchers': French press slammed over Hollande silence

Francois Hollande at yesterday's press conference

British press incredulous at French media's failure to press president on his 'affair' with Julie Gayet

LAST UPDATED AT 10:00 ON Wed 15 Jan 2014

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE said next to nothing about his reported affair with French actress Julie Gayet yesterday. During a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the French president spoke at length about economics, but batted away a few timid questions from journalists about his love life. Here's what the British press made of "Frisky Francois" and his tame inquisitors.

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail: Hollande is "France's most unlikely swordsman since Inspector Clouseau", writes Letts, and he was let off the hook in spectacular fashion by a French press that had been "sluiced and juiced in surroundings as opulent as Versailles". Letts describes France's most senior journalists as "a salon of oyster munchers, the powdered, poodling, truth-smothering trusties of polite Parisian opinion".  They are "aghast" that the public might learn the truth about the president, he writes. No wonder "they never tell their people the truth about the European Commission".

Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph: "If François Hollande treats his women the way he treats his press conferences, I feel rather sorry for them," writes Deacon. The president "goes for hours", but appears to be the only one who gets anything out of it. On the subject of the French media's apparent lack of interest in Hollande's sex life, Deacon writes: "It seems we have got the French all wrong. For centuries we had mockingly stereotyped the French as sex-mad. When, in reality, these spotlessly abstemious souls have so little interest in sex that when their own head of state is caught up in the juiciest scandal to hit politics since Clinton-Lewinsky, they only want to ask about social security."

Jon Henley in The Guardian: Would Hollande have managed to avoid questions about Gayet if he was a senior politician in Britain or America, asks Henley? "Possibly not. But, outraged tweets by Anglo-Saxon hacks notwithstanding, this was France."

Peter Brookes in The Times: The Times left it to its cartoonist to ridicule Hollande's press conference. His cartoon pays homage to Eugene Delacroix's famous painting Liberty Leading the People, by squeezing the French leader between Liberty's ample breasts. "I want to talk to you about the economy..." says the cartoon Hollande.

The Sun: The tabloid described Hollande's appearance as "the dullest hour of anyone's life". It added that the president's insistence on privacy was a technique "used by elites worldwide since the dawn of democracy" to "let them be seen as they want to be seen - not as they are". · 

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