The French-language website called Le Post, run by the prestigious daily Le Monde, publishes articles written by internauts as well as professional journalists.
Early this morning, this portal featured a short presentation of a video sequence in which the CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour asks Nicolas Sarkozy, standing alongside Barack Obama at the recent press conference at the Elysées Palace, if he regretted his use of the term "scum" in a declaration made by the French president back in November 2005, designating rioters in the suburbs. The article was erased from the portal a few hours later, and replaced by a short message that doesn't tell us what happened.
Fortunately, I kept a copy of the offending article, and I can see retrospectively what went wrong. As you will see in a moment, it was basically a transcription error on the part of the French internaut called Chamizam who signed the article.
Christiane Amanpour speaks French, but she actually used English in her question, and her use of the word "scum " for Sarkozy's "racaille " is, to my mind, perfectly correct. Here is the exact wording of Amanpour's question to Sarkozy: "I'm wondering whether you feel today, when you stand next to somebody you clearly admire so much and who has broken so many barriers, that you regret that term, or that you wish you hadn't said it." Curiously, the internaut Chamizam, who presented the video in the Le Post website, claimed that Christiane Amanpour's question could be translated into French as follows: "Monsieur le Président, ne regrettez-vous pas votre propos raciste? " [Mr President, don't you regret your racist expression? ] Clearly, no professional interpreter at the Elysées press conference would have made such a translation blunder. As I see things, somebody has alerted Le Post of this journalistic fault, bordering on slander [the internaut has taken the liberty of introducing the adjective "racist "], and they've simply removed Chamizam's article.
Here, in any case, is the video in question:
In conclusion, I think that Amanpour's question was excellent, in the usual direct and slightly impertinent style of this brilliant Persian woman. And I'm sorry that Chamizam's presentation of the video wasn't simply corrected, rather than being axed. If Christiane Amanpour had wanted to be really nasty, she might have asked the president if he regretted having suggested, back in those days when he was minister of the Interior, that rebellious youth in the suburbs should be treated with a Kärcher cleaner. But that exotic question would have surely made Barack Obama wonder what the hell was going on in France...