French Coverage of Strauss-Kahn Case

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is the world. Here's a name you've been hearing a lot this week, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He's the head of the International Monetary Fund, and he's being held in a New York jail on attempted rape charges. The name you haven't heard is that of the woman accusing him of assaulting her last weekend in a hotel room. The U.S media have opted to protect her identity; that's not the case in France. Several French language media outlets have disclosed the woman's name and personal information. Vivienne Walt is Time Magazine's Paris correspondent:

Vivienne Walt: In France, there is really no compunction againstââ?¬ ¦publishing the name of this victim. The first site in France to publish the name, as far as I know, was the French version of Slateââ?¬"called Slate.Fr. They went ahead and published her name and many other details about her. The thinking goes that the more that we know about her, the more that it puts a human face on the story, and she's not just some disembodied person. Which then could rouse suspicions of this all being a political set-up of some kind.

Werman: Is Slate.Fr publishing photos of the alleged victim?
Walt: No. I mean, I have not seen anything on any French site that actually publishes her photo.

Werman: Another big difference in media culture between the U.S and France is that in the U.S there have been images of Dominique Strauss-Kahn wearing handcuffs, being escorted by the police. That's something that wouldn't be shown in France. Why is the so-called perp walk prohibited from being shown in France?

Walt: Well, there's a French law called the ââ?¬Å?Right of the Image,ââ?¬  in which one can have the legal protection of controlling your own image down to the most mundane details. You know, for example, parents need to sign permission for their kid to be in the class photo every year. And this extends to people who are picked up on Class A felonies. And therefore, you cannot show Strauss-Kahn being handcuffed. And the French have been absolutely shocked by this.

Werman: Well, there seems to be a debate in France right now over what the French media has been ignoring. That the private lives of political figures, you know, have just been too often off-limits. Is that likelyââ?¬ ¦is that likely to change what the French media reports on?

Walt: I think this week has completely changed the media. I don't see the media going back from this actually. The French are very proud of having this openââ?¬ ¦romantic, sexual culture, but we now see the dark side of it. And I think what's changed now is the whole notion that you have seduction between powerful politicians and the women around them and have it be somehow a relationship of equals. It never was the case, and it's no longer something which journalists can buyââ?¬ ¦very easily. And I think, if nothing else, this instance has really changed that.

Werman: Vivienne Walt, Time Magazine Paris correspondent. Thanks so much!

Walt: Thank you!.