This book analyzes the relationship of the French press to political power. The bedrock concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is reversed for French journalists in libel cases; they enter courtrooms presumed guilty. Royal holdovers live on: Louis XIV’S system of indirect control through revocable favors persists in the form of state financial aid to the press. The weekly Le Canard Enchaîné is a journalistic court jester that plays the same role as the fops at Versailles, telling truth to power in joke form on topics that “serious” journals avoid.
Also introduced: “surplus freedom” a novel approach for gauging self-censorship by comparing the degree of free expression a legal system permits to what publications actually exercise.
Charles R. Eisendrath’s assignments for Time Magazine included Paris, London, and Buenos Aires, where he was able to witness comparative press systems firsthand.
His work has appeared elsewhere in the World Press Encyclopedia, Columbia Journalism Review, and Journal of Contemporary French Civilization as well as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Morning Edition on National Public Radio. This book, his fourth, was written after joining the University of Michigan. Father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife, Julia, in Ann Arbor.