Monday, October 29, 2007

This Wasn't The First Time Lesley Stahl Ticked Off A World Leader

Like Sarkozy, Yeltsin Also Stormed Off In a Hissy Fit Back in 1992

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hasn't been in office long, but he's amply demonstrated over the years how he's very much the publicity whore. But only on his own terms.
Lesley Stahl showed how she found that out the hard way on last night's "60 Minutes."
It looked like Stahl sacre bleu it when she asked him about rumors that his wife left him -- again.
Right before the question, we see Sarkozy pimp-slapping his press secretary on camera for even scheduling the interview. So, the guy's already in a foul mood and loaded for bear. And totally disinclined to play out scenes from his marriage with an American reporter, and a woman to boot.

"If I had to say something about Cecilia, I would certainly not do so here."
"But there’s a great mystery. Everybody’s asking," Stahl pleaded. "Even your press secretary was asked at the briefing today."
"Well he was quite right to make no comment. And no comment. Merci."
Then he ripped out his earpiece and left the room, after muttering "Bon courage."

Not exactly worth the shlep to Paris, if you ask me. Given Sarkozy's temperament, Stahl had to have known such a reaction was possible. But maybe that's why she asked the question.
A more-innocent line of questioning by Stahl sent a 1992 interview with Boris Yeltsin off the rails. She's at his dacha while he's playing tennis. He sits to chat and then accused CBS of being in cahoots with Mikhail Gorbachev to doctor a video that made him look soused, as if producers needed any help in that regard.
Yeltsin then storms off, despite on-camera pleas by no less than Don Hewitt to come back. Yeltsin angrily demurred.

Again, sometimes the better story is in what's not said during the interview. And Yeltsin blowing off steam as well as the interview turned out to be one of "60 Minutes" most-memorable moments.
Sarkozy won't qualify on that account, but it was easy to see why Stahl must have had an acute case of deja vu.

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