Election interference? Czech billionaire accused of changing headline to favor of Macron in French magazine

By M B
3 Min Read

“Anger or chaos?” was the headline France’s Marianne magazine editors chose to publish ahead of the second round of the French presidential election.

However, Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský, the magazine’s main shareholder, saw it differently and changed it to: “Despite anger, avoid chaos,” in a headline change which clearly sympathizes with the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron. Employees objected to this in a statement issued on Tuesday, however, according to the editor-in-chief, it was a simple editorial change.

The revised headline for the magazine issue toi be released today, just days before the second round election vote, caused a stir. The photo remained the same — focused on the eyes of the two candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. But the message is completely different.

According to the editors, this amounts to an interference with the independence of the media.

“This intervention by our majority owner, Daniel Křetínský, represents a serious attack on Marianne’s editorial independence,” Marianne Society of Editors wrote in a statement. “It happened even though (Křetínský) personally, and even twice, promised the journalists that he will respect this basic principle. Until now, he has done so.”

This statement was shared by Marine Le Pen who thanked the journalists for drawing attention to editorial interventions in the media. The editorial staff of Marianne however refused any idea that they want to side with anyone, according to Czech news outlet Irozhlas.

Křetínský’s growing French portfolio

On Wednesday, the editor-in-chief of Marianne, Natacha Polony, released a statement in which she claimed the editorial management decided on the change independently. The Thursday issue will thus be released with the headline: “Despite anger, avoid chaos.”

Polony justified the headline “with respect to the citizens’ extreme dissatisfaction with the system.” She added that this has provoked support for Le Pen whose rise could “cause disorder and deepen disagreements” often evident in French society. When choosing the headline, she considered both the opinion of the editorial board and of the CMI group in which Křetínský is a majority shareholder.

Křetínský also owns a part of the French Le Monde daily and has a 5 percent share in the TF1 broadcast network. Křetínský has not made any comments on the issue.

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