CBS Touts French President's Affair, But Ignores Unpopularity of His Socialist Policies

Reporting on Tuesday's White House state dinner featuring French president Francois Hollande, the CBS Evening News ignored the plummeting approval rating for his socialist policies.

CBS touched on the controversy of Hollande's affair and subsequent break-up with his partner, but ignored a poll showing over 70 percent of the French believing his taxes to be "excessive" and 80 percent calling his economic policy "misguided" and "inefficient." In addition, Hollande's approval rating has fallen below 20 percent for the first time.

For CBS, the only newsworthy controversy was Hollande's affair and its inconvenience to the White House. Bill Plante reported, "if the White House had its way, you wouldn't have any idea that the love life of France's president complicated the plans for tonight's state dinner."

Plante continued that Hollande breaking up with his partner meant that "the White House had to toss out more than 300 engraved dinner invitations, burying both of their names."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

CBS
EVENING NEWS
2/11/14
[6:50 p.m. EST]

SCOTT PELLEY: Today, President Obama welcomed French president Francois Hollande to the White House. Hollande was greeted by a military honor guard. The two men later said that they agree on most issues, including efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. Mr. Obama announced he will travel to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June. Tonight, there will be a state dinner at the White House with a menu ranging from caviar to cotton candy, but senior White House correspondent Bill Plante says the food will not be the first thing on anyone's mind.

(Video Clip)

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: Welcome to the United States, Bienvenue, mes amis.

BILL PLANTE, CBS News senior White House correspondent: A French welcome for President Hollande this morning and if the White House had its way, you wouldn't have any idea that the love life of France's president complicated the plans for tonight's state dinner. The revelation several weeks ago of Hollande's affair with a French actress led to his breakup with his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, France's unofficial first lady. The White House had to toss out more than 300 engraved dinner invitations, burying both of their names. Another anxiety-provoking questions – would Hollande bring a date? No, he came stag. But then, if not the First Lady of France, who would sit in the seat of honor next to President Obama? And who would be a dance partner for the French president? Does it really matter? Capricia Marshall was the chief of protocol during President Obama's first term.

(On camera) What do you do when you find out suddenly that the woman whose name is on the invitation isn't coming?

CAPRICIA MARSHALL: Well, you're flexible, because things change throughout a visit from the moment the President extends an invitation to that visiting chief of state or head of government, and you make sure that you move along with the rest of the details of that visit.

[Music playing]

PLANTE: State dinners are always a high-wire act. Among the greatest honors the nation can bestow on a foreign visitor. Washington watches who gets invited and who doesn't. And they're expensive. Around a half million dollars to feed tonight's 340 guests, some of America's best food and wine.

(End Video Clip)

PLANTE: So, Scott, on both sides of the Atlantic, the official response to the suddenly single status of the French president is a big Gallic shrug.

PELLEY: Bill, we did some checking, some presidents liked these dinners more than others. Ronald Reagan had 35 of them, but George W. Bush had six.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014