Opinion | Vincent Bolloré, the Mogul Behind Marine Le Pen and the French Right

This was just a matter of time. The three main candidates to the right of Macron have been marinated in a common culture of grievance and paranoia. The most moderate of the three, Ms. Pécresse, has spoken of the need to “eradicate areas that are not France”, as part of an attempt to mimic hard-right language as in a February 13 speech at who also complained. about the “great replacement”. This is the basis for an eventual marriage between the partisans of national populism of the Le Pen family and the more polite conservatism of the Republicans.

Bolloré presents himself above the partisan fray, but by building an integrated media apparatus for hysterical and inflamed conservatism, he has reshaped French political life. France, according to CNews, is on the verge of a breakdown of order and civility, one spark away from civil war. American-inspired “wokistes” and “Islamo-leftists”—terms used meaninglessly as synonyms for progressive activists, intellectuals, and politicians—are hatching a plot to emasculate France and its republican traditions. Immigrants are the massive carriers of collapse.

Obviously, it is tempting to see Bolloré as a Gallic Rupert Murdoch, a rogue oligarch who is dragging the entire country into the abyss due to entrenched ideological convictions. This has become the common narrative in the relentless press coverage of the billionaire.

However, the reality is more complicated, and perhaps even more worrying. According to ratings estimates, CNews’ audience and audience counts for Europe 1 radio are relatively low: Bolloré’s media influence lies not in sheer numbers, but in the way his press articulates talking points. far-right that the rest of the media and the political class are only too happy to broadcast.

And Mr. Bolloré himself is more opportunist than reactionary. Throughout his career, he was known for cultivating ties across France’s ideological spectrum, a necessity for someone involved in the high-stakes game of international trade and development. Before CNews, Bolloré’s media assets were appendages to his toughest investments, not pawns in a coherent ideological project. His role as sponsor of the new right is fairly recent.

In 2017, Macron’s victory was heralded as the end of the left-right divide in France. And in a speech to his supporters outside Paris over the weekend, he again vowed to resist “those who seek to sow the poison of division, to fragment, to fracture men.”

But the opportunistic lending of his far-right government says otherwise. In January, to cite just one recent example, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer delivered the introductory speech at a two-day colloquium at the Sorbonne on the dangers of “wokisme” and progressive identity politics. A representative of a government that claims to be a bulwark against reactionary nationalism, Blanquer was followed by Mathieu Bock-Côté, a polemicist who currently occupies Zemmour’s primetime spot on CNews.

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