For a long time now the French media have stayed out the private lives of French public figures (something which we in the UK might find an alien concept considering our own media). This is because France has some extremely tight laws about privacy which make it almost impossible for the press in France to publish gossip stories about people unless they have their prior consent. On top of this the public in France also seem to not want to hear about the private goings on of the rich and famous and the politicians of France. The French public think that it is intrusive and distasteful.
However things seem to have taken a little turn in the opposite direct since the Strauss-Khan case. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest has sparked debate about whether his behaviour might have been any different if his actions were reported in the French press.
France has a tradition of a very macho political culture where men who have extra marital affairs are often looked upon favourably rather than with disdain and the fact the Strauss-Kahn case has brought this to the very forefront of the French media means that the French culture for this closed door policy is coming under intense scrutiny. Some members of the French media are even choosing to freely comment on Strauss-Kahn’s actions in the foreign press, away from the reprisal of the laws in France.
Since the Strauss-Kahn case and also since Nicolas Sarkozy came to be elected the wind is changing a little in France and it seems that the French macho culture may not be protected by the media for very much longer. The French macho culture is coming under increased criticism and looks set to undergo some media challenges in the near future.