It was not as embarrassing as US President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 open microphone gaffe, “We’ll begin bombing Russia in five minutes,” but French journalist Jean Pierre Elkabbach still felt ashamed enough to stay off-air for a while.
After a debate with Economy Minister Christine Lagarde on his weekly political talkshow on France’s Europe1 radio, M. Elkabbach thanked her for her interesting contribution. Then he told his listeners, “Next week we’ll receive [Socialist MP] Arnaud Montebourg…” Hearing the sign-off tune and believing his microphone to be off, the unfortunate host then added, “and that will be less interesting”. Thousands of listeners heard him say these words, however.
When he learnt of the gaffe he had committed, the journalist immediately contacted the MP and said he would not be there to host the show on 3 October. M. Montebourg jokingly told Le Monde daily, “Just as well, because then he’ll have no opportunity to get bored,” adding that he would enjoy saying on-air what he thought of M. Elkabbach’s attitude.
M. Montebourg and M. Elkabbach were at loggerheads before during the presidential campaign of 2007, when the leftwing MP said that Paris-based commercial station Europe1 had better be called Radio-Sarko, suggesting it was biased towards Nicolas Sarkozy. This elicited a sharp protest from M. Elkabbach.
(Source: Le Monde, translated by Rob Kievit)