The XX Factor

The Internet Cares About French Presidential Affairs

The oft-repeated cliché about the French is that they don’t care when celebrities have affairs, and they find the American pearl-clutching over presidential mistresses to be provincial. But in the past few days, it seems that some French people care very much: Rumors have been rampant in the European press that both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni were both having affairs. According to the Times of London , these rumors began as an offhand joke on the Web site of the French publication Journal du Dimanche about Sarkozy having an affair with a staffer. Gossip sites picked up this jokey item as a serious piece of news, and the notion that the first French couple have an open marriage spread across continents . It’s worth noting that the mainstream French media has ignored the entire kerfuffle, but the rumors bothered Carla Bruni so much she gave the following quote to Sky News about her husband : “He would never have affairs.”

Maybe the elite French folks who run the newspapers still don’t care if their president is having an affair-but the lowly Internet gossip types certainly do.