LISTEN TO TLR’S LATEST PODCAST:
By Jacob Bojesson
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has shown “extremely worrying” signs of hostility toward the media during its first month in office, unions representing France’s major media outlets claim.
The French Society of Journalists published an open letter Tuesday accusing the government of using pressure tactics and legal threats against members of the media. Two ministers are singled out in the letter for sending “extremely worrying signals regarding the way they conceive of the independence of media and the protection of sources.”
The labour ministry filed a complaint for document theft after newspaper Liberation published details of the government’s plan to overhaul the labor code. The ministry said they were going after the source rather than the newspaper, but a union considers the handing to be a “signal intended to muzzle the profession.”
Justice Minister Francois Bayrou personally contacted the director of Radio France to complain about “harassment”calls from journalists. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe later apologized for Bayrou’s reaction.
Bayrou is further accused of illegally using European Parliament funds to pay most of his secretary’s salary. The potential scandal emerged on the same day as Bayrou’s unveiling of a bill to outlaw shady financial practices in politics.
Richard Ferrand, the general secretary of Macron’s La République En Marche party, has previously been accused of using his position as director of a health insurance company to benefit his own family. Ferrand denies any wrongdoing.