Watch out Macron! French media ‘obsessed’ with unofficial candidate as election looms

Eric Zemmour points gun at reporters during an arms fair

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Eric Zemmour is not a candidate for the 2022 French presidential elections, but he has been receiving more media attention than the real candidates. A media personality himself as a former TV pundit with more than a decade of experience, Mr Zemmour lost his daily job intervening on CNEWS in mid-September after the CSA (Superior Council of Audiovisual media) stated that a news channel could not have a potential candidate working 5 days a week on-screen.

But according to a count made by Libération, even without this TV position, Eric Zemmour has been the most tweeted hypothetical candidate by several official news channels since September.

432 times by BFMTV, 170 times by LCI and 145 times by his former employer CNEWS.

Pauline Bock, from Arrêt sur Images, an online magazine that analyses media and journalism trends, told Express.co.uk: “there are no reasons to what can be qualified as an obsession of the media for Zemmour.”

“Around June, it was revealed he had secured some funds and had had meeting with mayors — strong signals for the media,” she recalls.

“Everyone jumped on the bandwagon after this. The media are definitely playing their part in making him a bigger topic than he should be.”

An early poll released in July by economics magazine Challenges estimated if Zemmour ran in the election, he could land 5% of the votes in the first round. Another poll published in the same magazine in September mentioned he would do 7%.

On October 6, a new poll credited him with 17% in the first round and 45% against Macron in a hypothetical second round.

A broader poll initiated by Le Monde and released at the end of October credits Mr Zemmour with 16%.

“The media are the ones asking for polls even though we don’t know whether he is a candidate or not,” analyses Pauline Bock.

“We know it is going to influence the opinion.”

With such a large media coverage in the past two months, it seems only logical that Zemmour keeps getting better polls.

But according to Ms Bock, the media are only seeking more Zemmour’s coverage as he is synonymous with clicks and audience.

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“He is constantly on trending topics, it’s like he is this big rock going down a mountain.

“Once it started you just can’t stop it anymore.

“The media started to roll it and now it’s rolling so fast that they just feel like they have to keep running behind it to try and get some of the attention.

“He sometimes drives half of the news stories. The media feels like they just can’t stop looking.

“Most journalists don’t have a choice. Covering him comes from this need to look for an audience and for buzz.”

Ms Bock added: “There is a will from above to cover Zemmour because he draws in clicks and is very visible.

“But in doing so, you make him even more visible. It’s a vicious circle.”

Mr Zemmour has been convicted twice (in 2011 and 2018) after he shared racist and Islamophobic views on air.

However, his momentum is still going.

“Even if he only keeps entertaining the idea that he would run, he is driving the news agenda,” concludes Pauline Bock.

“That’s what any pundit would love to do. He does not even have to run anymore. He won already.

“All we talk about is how much worse than Marine Le Pen he is.

“He makes her look better as well.

“He also makes very violent assertions sound more normal every day. He literally normalises racism, islamophobia and violence.”

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