Government Influence Over the Media

From Walter Olson

According to the New York Times, French Socialist president François Hollande demanded and received the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the country’s leading conservative newspaper. If that sounds impossibly high-handed, consider the background, as reported in the Times:

The publisher, Serge Dassault, is a senator from [ousted President Nicolas] Sarkozy’s political party [and thus opposed to Hollande]. But Mr. Dassault also heads a major military contractor, and there was widespread speculation that [Figaro editor Étienne] Mougeotte’s ouster was meant to put the Dassault group in good stead with the new president.

For an American reader, it would be natural to turn the page with a murmur of thanks that such things don’t go on in our country. Don’tbe so sure:

[Since-convicted Illinois Gov. Rod] Blagojevich, Harris and others are also alleged [in the federal indictment] to have withheld state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field. The statement says this was done to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were critical of Blagojevich.

Read the whole thing.  He has an interesting story about Ted Kennedy passing legislation to force a change in ownership of the Boston paper most consistently critical of him.

  • Mondak

    "state assistance in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field"

    While I think this kind of thing is bad, it is worse that the government is involved in such things to begin with.

  • Sol

    Woah, the Dassault family of Dassault Systems (maker of 3D geometry program CATIA) is also a major military contracter and publisher of Le Figaro?!

  • SamWah

    Oh, no, Shirley, that can't be so! Corrupt thugs in our various gummints? Chi-town and Bean-town? Yeah, I can see that happening.