This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global news site that
translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article
below was originally published in Le Monde.
The Strauss-Kahn affair, which began in a Sofitel hotel room, shows that
writing endless editorials or making sermons predicting the future does not
get us any closer to the truth. When dealing with politics, French media
usually call in a troop of editorial writers, rebaptized “commentators,”
whereas Anglo-Saxon newspapers, even if they have their own shortcomings,
dedicate more space to investigative journalism that holds the power to make
important revelations and share them with the public. A thirst for the facts
has never harmed democracies.
French democracy needs a real shot of “common decency,” a remedy coined by
the British writer George Orwell. It is a code of simplicity and honesty,
and should be followed by politicians, “intellectuals” and journalists.
Common decency, in itself, obviously means respecting people, but above all,
it is a refusal to create something from nothing. Instead, one must be
obsessed by the submission to facts. This decency should forbid untoward
comments, which are somehow deemed acceptable because of freedom of speech.
In 2006, Christophe Dubois and I wrote an investigative book titled Sexus
Politicus about the aphrodisiac character of power and the various low
blows of political life. It included a chapter called “the DSK affair,”
dealing with Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s unconventional behavior. Not yet head
of the International Monetary Fund back then, Strauss-Kahn is depicted
taking unnecessary risks for a statesman in his position, and being
surprisingly vulnerable. The scenes described in the book did not fall
solely within the realm of seduction. We and our publisher Albin Michel
faced intense pressures due to the nature of the information revealed in
Since Sunday, I have refused to be interviewed because I don’t want my
comments to be mixed up with those made by specialists who have seen
nothing, know nothing and read nothing. They have not even talked about
seduction in politics or cited the
specific information published five years ago.
But once again, current affairs force us to question the use of journalists.
What is the role of journalists? Some citizens think, not without reasons,
that some journalists try to impose their ideas rather than seek to inform us. As a result,
they form a largely pretentious class. They are like a political community
that is free from difficulties of action but never deprived of speech. They
resemble a media-friendly class, which neither acts , but splits hairs instead.
Should we leave it to comedians to decide when and if some pieces of
information should be revealed or not?
See how DSK’s arrest will cloud the French presidential race.