When we’re not besieged by news about how still IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on suicide watch, how his various French supporters claim the whole thing is a conspiracy (he won’t get to run for President anymore), that he was upset about being on a ‘perp walk’ (that’s the practice of parading celebrities in front of the media when they’re booked at a police station; the former French cultural minister Jack Lang said it was like ‘lynching’); that Strauss-Kahn loves his daughter and is not a gorrilla, we notice how some members of the media are gleefully hounding his alleged victim. To the effect that the woman, an immigrant from Guinea in West Africa, is now in hiding. At some point, her lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro was forced to deny that she had an “agenda” and that she did not know who Strauss-Kahn was.

The tabloid New York Post, based on circumstantial evidence, ran a cover story today claiming she is HIV positive; a claim which her lawyer denied. How The New York Post introduced this false claim:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have more to worry about than a possible prison sentence.

Ben Stein, a rightwing American columnist:

I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman’s word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker’s is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it’s done.

But the tone in US media–where Strauss-Kahn does not guarantee ratings, especially on TV–pale next to the commentary by the French media. There the media has identified the alleged victim by name.  Apart from repeating the HIV positive claims of The Post, they also include gems :

In the paper “Le Parisien,” an Indian taxi driver–interviewed in front of the hotel where the alleged assault took place– said that she has “large breasts and a nice ass.”

The original reference:

Un chauffeur de taxi indien décrit à quelques journalistes postés devant le Sofitel ce que se disent les employés de l’hôtel et qui est repris tôt ce matin dans la presse américaine :« le voiturier m’a dit que cette femme de ménage était une trentenaire très jolie, qu’elle avait de gros seins et de belles fesses.

And this from RMC.FR, a radio station:  “The [defense] lawyers were surprised…when they saw a young woman who was very unattractive/not too seductive.”

The original:

Les avocats auraient été surpris, lors de la comparution, de voir arriver une jeune femme très peu séduisante.

If she were, indeed, “seductive,” whatever form of appearance or behaviour that may constitute such a descriptor, I wonder how the media would have jumped to frame her as an agent in her own brutalising.

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