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French press review 6 December 2017

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French rock star Johnny Hallyday is dead. So is the writer and Le Figaro journalist Jean d'Ormesson. And so, while we're at it, is King Michael I of Romania. President Emmanuel Macron thinks the French public audiovisual sector can do better. And US President Donald Trump looks set to announce the transfer of the Americanembassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


The electronic editions of all the French papers are telling the same story this morning.

"Johnny Hallyday, the idol who sold 110 million disks, is dead," is Le Monde's stark summary.

Le Figaro describes the deceased singer as "France's last idol".

Libération's untranslatable headline mixes fire and fatality, but at least avoids further idolatry.

The man who, according to Le Figaro, "invented an era," lost his fight against lung cancer at the age of 74.

The same Le Figaro article assures us that Johnny is one of "those men who die less because they lived more" - an observation that, frankly, won't stand up to any serious scrutiny but at least suggests the depth of the French nation's love affair with the departed rock star.

Death of another French cultural icon

The print editions of the French dailies were already in mourning, following the death on Monday of the writer Jean d'Ormesson.

He was another French cultural phenomenon, another individual whose departure marks the end of an era, according to Le Monde.

Each of his books and he wrote one every year, sold an average 200,000 copies here in France. But he remained little known elsewhere.

He was a journalist and editorial director of right-wing Le Figaro.

That paper this morning accords him the honour of an editorial, which begins: "He loved Chateaubriand, Homer, Paul-Jean Toulet and Aragon. But also the sun, the sea, beautiful women, politics and the art of conversation. He had all the talents, especially a talent for happiness. He was gaiety itself."

And the article ends with a phrase which is also the title of one of d'Ormesson's best-known works, "Au revoir et merci," goodbye and thank you.

Not forgetting King Michael of Romania

And since we're all already snuffling into our handkerchiefs, let's not forget King Michael I of Romania, who also passed away on Tuesday. He was king during World War II, famously taking his nation out of the alliance with Hitler's Germany in 1944, before being forced to abdicate in 1947 as the Communist Party consolidated its grip on the country.

He died in exile in Switzeralnd at the age of 96.

Macron savages French public-service broadcasters

Also in the news this morning, French president Emmanuel Macron was yesterday hammering the French public broadcasting system, allegedly describing the audiovisual sector as "a national disgrace".

Macron accuses national radio and television of bad management, waste, poor progamming and a series of incestuous relationships with certain presenters and producers.

Le Figaro describes the presidential tirade as being of "unusual virulence".

The government, meanwhile, has been running for cover, saying the comments have been taken out of context and twisted. But, whatever about the actual words uttered, no one is claiming that the president is happy about the audiovisual division.

Prepare for stormy times is Le Figaro's warning to players in the sector.

Trump to keep Jerusalem embassy promise

Le Monde looks at the anticipated confirmation by US President, Donald Trump, of the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The centrist paper says the decision has already been taken, despite warnings from regional leaders that such a move will provoke further violence in a region which is already smouldering.

Some commentators quoted by Le Monde say this evening's announcement of the embassy transfer will destroy American efforts to achieve Middle Eastern peace.

At the heart of the largely symbolic quarrel is the status of Jerusalem, seen by Israel as the real capital of the Jewish state, while Palestinians regard the east of the city as the logical capital of an eventual Palestinian nation.

During his election campaign, Trump promised that he would shift the US embassy if elected. And his camp has been keen to point out that keeping the American diplomatic base in Tel Aviv has done nothing to advance the cause of peace over the past two decades.