A subplot to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair has been the relative lack of outrage towards the former IMF chief emanating from French elites and French media.
Explanations for this have ranged from: Well, they’re French to it’s embarrassing to see a national leader treated like a common criminal in a foreign country.
But there’s another, more insidious aspect that’s highlighted in a note from the research firm GaveKal, and that’s the incestuous relationship between French media and the government.
First, the firm notes that government monopolies subsidise French newspapers significantly via ads. Various government-owned or partially government-owned companies (EDF, SNCF, Gaz de France, La Poste, Air France), buy extensively. That’s one reason not to piss off elites.
The other, more shocking aspect is the ownership structure of big French media.
Did you know that newspaper Le Figaro is owned by aerospace manufacturer Dassault? Imagine if the NYT were owned by Boeing!
Other publications, like Paris Match are owned by Lagardere, and insutrial company with a big stake in EADS.
And beyond aerospace, the big media outlet TF1 is owned partially by Bouygues, a construction company that’s hugely dependent on government money.
Our colleague Pascal Emmanuel Gobry confirms to us this, as well as the fact that the government subsidizes newspaper via extensive subscriptions bought on behalf of beauracrats.
So basically, the French is far less free. This is what you get.