Sacré Bleu! Old-School Satirical Paper Upends French Presidential Race

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For a small duck it packs one hell of a peck.

PARIS (AP) One-time French presidential front-runner Francois Fillon is slowly finding his dream of winning the Elysee Palace under water.

And it’s because of the revelations of one old-school, eight-page satirical newspaper with ink that comes off on your hands: “Le Canard Enchaine,” or “The Chained Duck.”

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The dirt-digging weekly’s claims that Fillon’s political clout helped secure handsomely paid jobs for his wife, Penelope, and two of their children are the just the latest scoops from the 102-year-old newspaper which is showing that traditional gumshoe reporting and the ink-and-paper format still have value in the increasingly online world.

“‘Canard’ or ‘duck’ was taken from French slang for ‘newspaper.'”

With its old-school typography, puns on every page and thick, rough paper, “Le Canard” may seem like an unlikely source of hard-nosed political journalism.

But the controversy has seriously hurt the conservative Fillon and has upended the race for France’s spring presidential election. It has pecked away at his popularity as his critics cry foul. Fillon, who was France’s prime minister from 2007 to 2012, has denied any wrongdoing.

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The paper first published the allegations against Fillon on Jan. 25 and then came out with a second report containing further accusations on Wednesday. Copies of the latest edition were hard to come by in Paris.

Financial prosecutors are investigating whether Penelope Fillon actually worked, as he claims, as her husband’s parliamentary aide or whether her job was fake, which would be an illegal use of public funds.

“Le Canard Enchaine,” available in kiosques and proudly not online, is a modern anachronism that flies in the face of claims that old-school newspapers are relics of the past.

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The weekly, costing 1.20 euros ($1.29), continues to be an influential player in the French media landscape, and a go-to for whistle-blowers — despite dwindling newspaper sales across the world. The paper, which has no advertisements, is mainly financed through newsstand sales and subscriptions.

Editor Louis-Marie Horeau recently revealed his paper’s winning journalistic methods for exposing the so-called Penelope-gate scandal. Read the rest of this entry »


Scare Bleu! French National Front Party Draws More Votes from Left than Right 

Barone-3Michael Barone writes: The National Front’s strong showing in the French regional elections, leading all other parties with 28 percent of the vote nationwide, has been widely noted. Looking at the regional results, I notice that the two strongest regions for the FN (the French acronym), in which its candidates, both female members of the extended Le Pen family, received 41 percent of the votes, were about as far from being political twins as possible.

One was Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, the far north of France, a heavy industry area with the grim landscapes familiar to readers of Georges Simenon novels. Read the rest of this entry »