British press sneers at French journalists' deference to Hollande

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 4:37am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 4:37am

Britain's newspapers were left mystified yesterday by their French counterparts' reluctance to question Francois Hollande over claims of an affair, concluding "they do things differently" across the Channel.

Britain's rowdy media was gleefully awaiting an inquisition over his reported trysts with actress Julie Gayet as he arrived for a press conference at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday.

But they were left disappointed when deferential journalists left Hollande free to explain a series of economic reforms.

The Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon wrote: "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."

The Guardian, generally supportive of Hollande's claims to a private life, admitted that "they do things differently in France".

"Would he get away with this in Britain or America? Possibly not," said columnist Jon Henley. "But, outraged tweets by Anglo-Saxon hacks notwithstanding, this was France."

He concluded there was "a certain undeniable deference to the president, the living embodiment of the republic".

The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts mocked those charged with quizzing Hollande, who he called the "most unlikely swordsman since Inspector Clouseau".

"Before him sat a salon of oyster munchers, the powdered, poodling, truth-smothering trusties of polite Parisian opinion," he wrote.

"They are aghast that the peasants should be told about presidential legeauver (sic). No wonder they never tell their people the truth about the European Commission," he added.

The Sun slammed Hollande's performance as "the dullest hour of anyone's life".