French journalist reprimanded for asking politician if PM under ‘Jewish influence’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — France’s national watchdog on broadcasters reprimanded a journalist who asked a politician whether the country’s prime minister was “under Jewish influence.”

The Superior Audiovisual Council, or CSA, criticized Jean-Jacques Bourdin, a presenter for the BFMTV television station and the RMC radio broadcaster, over an interview he conducted last month with ex-French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, the Le Figaro daily reported Sunday.

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During the Feb. 16 interview, Dumas said of Prime Minister Manuel Valls: “He has personal alliances, everyone knows he is married to someone – a distinguished person – who has influence over him.”

Following up on Dumas’ statement, Jean-Jacques Bourdin asked Dumas: “Is Valls under Jewish influence,” to which Dumas replied, “Probably, I would think so.”

Valls, whom many Jews regard as a hero for his strong-worded rejections of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and prosecution of inciters of hate, is married to Jewish violinist Anne Garvoin. In 2011 he said during a public appearance that his marriage connected him “in an eternal way” to Israel and the Jewish people.

The council said that Bourdin’s question “served to banalize and advertise discriminatory behaviors,” Le Figaro reported. It put BFMTV, RMC and Bourdin on notice, but did not impose any fines.

But NextRadioTV, a commercial group comprising both sanctioned broadcasters, defended them as “careful not to promote discriminatory behaviors” and warned that the council’s decision to put them on notice “risks weighing down on freedom of expression.”