16 février 2008. Time Magazine s’émeut d’une nouvelle loi decidée par Nicolas Sarkozy qui restreint manifestement la liberté des journalistes.
To gag the Press is crude. Last week club-footed little French President Nicolas Sarkozy proudly consecrated the French Press to UMP (Sarkozy’s political party) service. Into his office for the consecration filed 300 of Paris' most eminent newsfolk.
I don't see. purred Mr. Sarkozy, "why you should have the slightest difficulty in adjusting the trend of what you write to the interests of the State. It is possible that the Government may sometimes be mistaken—as to individual measures—but it is absurd to suggest that anything superior to the Government might take its place. What is the use therefore of editorial skepticism? It only makes people uneasy."
Mr. Sarkozy in the old, crude days of his rise to power used to say that nothing was so good for a hostile editor as threats and intimidation. Such tactics, copied from Berlusconi, were often better than beating, but Mr. Sarkozy has no need of them today. He held in his thin, knob-knuckled hands last week a new National Press Law making it a crime to practice journalism in France except as a licensed member of a nationwide closed shop. La Fédération National des Médias Français, headed by Mr. Sarkozy.
The law covers "all persons who take a share in forming the mental contents of any newspaper or political periodical through the written word or pictures." To get his license a candidate must prove that neither he nor his wife had even one foreign grandparent, must be a French citizen over 21, trained for at least one year in journalism and consecrated to the ideals of Mr. Sarkozy. Exceptionally, he can license anybody to be a journalist, even a foreigner.
Under the law newspaper owners and editors are stripped of power to discharge members of their staffs "for reasons of their own", can and must do so only for reasons of state. Disputes will be settled by a National Press Court, the judges to be appointed by Mr. Sarkozy. From now on every French journalist is legally responsible to and must uphold the State.
"The National Press Law is the most modern journalistic statute in the world!" cried Mr. Sarkozy explaining it to his 300 nervous guests last week. "I predict that its principles will be adopted by the other nations of the world within the next seven years. It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion!"
Reading from the text of the law, Mr. Sarkozy proclaimed that it is the duty of journalists to keep out of print:
2) Matter calculated to weaken the power of the Nation at home or abroad, the community will of the French people, its military spirit or its culture and economy, or that tends to offend religious sentiments .
5) Anything that is unethical on any other grounds."
Docile, the French Press reported the National Press Law under such headlines as INDEPENDENCE OF FREE SPEECH and FREE DISCUSSION WITHIN THE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY. Foreign correspondents in France were reported exempt from the law, but it binds French journalists abroad.
L’original est à retrouver sur le site de Time.