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Sometimes I ask myself why a particular high-profile piece of journalism was published.

And in the case of Roger Cohen’s anemic New York Times profile of Anne Hidalgo, I have to conclude it’s sheer snobbery. Plus bait and switch.

Hidalgo represents the currently pathetic to the point of invisibility French Socialist party. Their candidate eked out six percent in the last presidential election, and, even so, Cohen wants us to entertain the possibility that Hidalgo – a possible candidate only – will do far, far, …. far……………. ffffaarrrrr better.

Yet why, since Hidalgo’s chances hover at around … six percent, should we entertain that possibility? Because, like your Visa card, she’s everything that you – New York Times reader – want her to be. You want the first woman president of France to exist, and “HERE COMES ANNE HIDALGO,” announces Cohen’s headline. Subhead: She’s “CHARISMATIC.”


Okay, so I’m on board for this! I, UD, will settle in and read this entire article because I am a snob (I love to speak French!), and like many snobs have a strong interest in many things French. So let’s go!

I was easy to bait, wasn’t I? I mean, given its nullity, its total lack of reason to exist, it occurs to me as I read that the Cohen piece has rather the same status as a lushly illustrated essay in the Sunday NYT Magazine about how to make onion soup. Yet I keep reading.

And as I read, Cohen’s bait – charismatic! maybe she can do it! – gradually shifts to switch. ‘The once-proud “gauche” is in tatters.’ Oh.


But wait!

Ms. Hidalgo has clout and international recognition. Michael Bloomberg is a friend.

Oh, okay, I’m back up on the horse! And what a spectacular electability advisor Bloomberg would be.

‘[A]s Philippe Labro, an author and political observer, remarked, “France today is squarely on the right.” Terrorism, insecurity, fear and perceptions of unrestrained immigration pushed the country there. The left has had no clear answer, not Ms. Hidalgo, not anyone.’

Cohen’s list is curious, suggesting as it does that things like, I don’t know… how to run the economy have nothing to do with the right’s current strength. No, it’s all reactionary stuff: insecurity, fear.


Is it a story worthy of the New York Times that a relatively obscure woman, with zero chance of making it into the second round of an election she might not even enter, recently enjoyed an enthusiastic reception at a gathering of French socialists?

Nope. But it’s a story worthy of UD, New York Times reader. Bait; switch; pander.

Margaret Soltan, September 2, 2021 5:51PM
Posted in: heroines

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4 Responses to “Sometimes I ask myself why a particular high-profile piece of journalism was published.”

  1. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Is the mayor of Paris obscure?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dame Eleanor: Quick: Who’s the mayor of London?

    … And I did say “relatively obscure…”

  3. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    That Muslim guy . . . Khan?

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    You’re right.

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