Truth be told?
I often watched the TF1 weekend newscasts — Friday evening through Sunday evening — just to observe the lovely Claire Chazal.
Every week I would marvel at her pretty, low-key makeup (no glossy red lips and over made up eyes for Claire). I always wanted to know what she was wearing and how her hair would be un-arranged, arranged. I couldn’t get enough of the elegant Claire Chazal.
On Sunday night one of my favorite French fashion icons and, it would be unfair not to add, professional journalists, said goodnight and goodbye to us.
She was fired after 24 years of crisp and professional reporting by, we were told on France’s all news television station BFM, a text message from the manager of TF1.
Claire, one does feel as if it’s acceptable to call her by her first name since she has been part of our lives for so long, has been criticised for being “too respectful and easy” when interviewing politicians, tossing soft ball questions and allowing them to make political points without tough follow-up clarifications.
In what was billed as a scoop/exclusive confession interview with Dominique Strauss-Kahn after he was charged with sexual assault and attempted rape of a Sofitel Hotel chamber maid in New York, she was chastised for allowing him to refer to the incident as a “moral fault” on his part and letting his response to go unchallenged. (I did watch the interview and despite my respect for Chazal as a journalist, it was embarrassing and he, as always, came off as arrogant and condescending.)
One of France’s most obnoxious journalists who shouts at his interviewees and constantly interrupts them was one of her cruelest critics.
But, as always, television is all about ratings and Claire’s were slipping. Her time was up.
In a poll wherein the public was asked if they liked and respected Claire Chazal some 80 percent responded, “oui.” With that ever delicate follow-up question: “Will you miss her?” Some 60 percent of those questioned replied, “non.”
Some claim she is a relic of the past, the sort of journalism that appealed to an older audience. Studies seem to indicate we — or more likely that golden 18 to 49-year-old demographic that marketers worship — want more bullying and aggressive reporting and interviews.
I cannot help but wonder why there isn’t a place for both types of reporting. Serious, aggressive, probing journalism on the troubling issues of our times and perhaps a certain respect for the office of the president with a civilized comportment while posing hard questions.
Another criticism of her was that she was reluctant to warm up to the latest trend in television news presentation: Standing up and walking around. She preferred to present the news behind her desk.
To read more about her, click here.
She has been replaced by Anne-Claire Coudray, who at 38, is 20 years younger than Madame Chazal.
Coudray’s style is characterised as “breezier” than her predecessor.
This is how Claire Chazal signed off her final newscast last Sunday. You will note she is standing up, elegant and professional as always.
Now, those of us who will miss her are waiting for her next role.