The editor of Paris Match magazine has been sacked over a cover showing far-right presidential contender Éric Zemmour in a clinch with his assistant.
Hervé Gattegno was fired a month after displaying photographs of Zemmour, 63, in a compromising position with his 28-year-old assistant Sarah Knafo in the Mediterranean Sea off the French Riviera, on the front cover of the weekly magazine.
Zemmour was angered by the Paris Match scoop according to The Times, announcing that he was taking legal action for a breach of his privacy.
The cover did little to stop Zemmour – who is married with three children – from surging in the French polls off the back of his attacks on immigration and Islam.
Pictured: French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour (left) and his advisor Sarah Knafo pose during a photo session in Paris on April 22, 2021. The pair were photographed in a clinch, with the photograph being put on the front cover of Paris Match magazine
The ‘French Donald Trump’, as some have called him, is yet to announce that he will be standing for the presidency next year.
Even so, election polls show he sits neck-and-neck with far-right rival Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, with around 16 percent of the vote.
Whoever emerges victorious from their contest is expected to go on to face President Macron next year.
According to journalists working at Paris Match, the cover annoyed Vincent Bolloré, the main shareholder in Lagardère, the conglomerate that owns the weekly.
The 69-year-old billionaire import-export tycoon from Brittany, who acquired the media empire, is reportedly well acquainted with Zemmour, having employed him as a pundit on CNews.
Under Bolloré’s leadership, the rolling news channel has veered to the right, with Zemmour being the star attraction with his far-right views including an anti-Islam stance and warnings that increasing immigration would see religious conflicts and vicil war in France.
The pundit left last month to prepare for his expected run at the presidency.
Pictured: Now-former Paris Match editor Herve Gattegno seen arriving the trial of the so-called Bettencourt affair, on November 3, 2015 at the Bordeaux’s courthouse. Gattegno has now been fired as editor of Paris Match
Paris Match’s now-former editor Gattegno, 57, also edited Lagardère’s Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
It is reportedly common knowledge that Gattegno is close with Macron and former president and right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, who was in power from 2007 to 2012.
Under his editorship, Le Journal du Dimanche has become known as ‘Macron’s Pravda’. However, Gattegno is said to not be a fan of Zemmour, and recently described him as ‘a prophet of doom’.
Speaking to French news outlet Le Figaro, one journalist at Paris Match said: ‘Hervé Gattegno was a controversial figure but he has always positioned himself firmly against the extreme right.’
The journalist said Gattegno was fired for attacking Zemmour and for sending a paparazzi to take the photographs in the south of France, but others have suggested that Gattegno had already fallen on the wrong side of Bolloré.
The editor, it has been posited, already knew he was going to lose his job as editor of the two publications.
Ms Knafo is reported to wield an increasing influence over Zemmour, with Le Monde writing in an article this week that she was his partner, right-hand woman and campaign director.
The Le Monde article, however, made no mention of Zemmour’s wife Mylène Chichportich, or their three children.
The news of Gattegno’s firing came as a new opinion poll on Friday saw Zemmour edge Marine Le Pen out of the qualifying spot for a second-round duel against President Emmanuel Macron in next April’s presidential election.
Ms Knafo (pictured) is reported to wield an increasing influence over Zemmour, with Le Monde writing in an article this week that she was his partner, right-hand woman and campaign director
The political talk show star’s meteoric rise in opinion polls has upturned long-held expectations that the second round is sure to be a repeat of the 2017 contest pitting Macron against Le Pen, whose party has dominated the far-right for decades.
The poll published on Friday for Le Monde newspaper by Ipsos Sopra Steria was only the second survey which put Zemmour in the run-off vote, with 16-16.5 percent in the first round vs 15-16 percent for Le Pen.
Macron was still seen leading the first round with 24-28 percent. The latest poll did not predict the winner of the second round, but other polls have forecast Macron as the likely ultimate winner.
Ipsos Sopra Steria pollsters noted that Zemmour, who holds convictions for inciting hatred and once said women ‘don’t embody power’, is a more divisive figure among voters than Le Pen.
Only 20 percent consider he has what it takes to be president, compared with 30% for Le Pen. While 21 percent of men over 60 back Zemmour, his support women under 35 is only 8 percent.
The poll was conducted among 16,000 people interviewed between October 7 – October 13.