Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, is being the victim of “fake news” and conspiracy rumors, which force her to report them to justice. They say he was born under the name of Jean Michel Trogneau, before changing sex and name and that she is not the mother of her children.
These “fake news” were initially published in September in an ultra-right magazine. Since then, there have been more than 57,000 mentions of the case on social media.
Trogneau is the maiden name of Brigitte, who was a drama and literature teacher at a Jesuit college of her husband, President Emmanuel Macron, much younger than her.
Emmanuel Macron listens to his wife Brigitte. Photo: AFP
In the middle of the electoral campaign, when President Macron has not yet declared himself a candidate, this absurd rumor shows how far the networks and their lies can try to destabilize candidacies and campaigns.
Natacha Rey, a plotter
An alleged journalist, who identifies herself as Natacha Rey, promotes these versions. For the first time it was published in “Facts and Documents”, an ultra-right magazine. Rey compares Brigitte to “ET, the alien” and shows hatred for the first lady and President Emmanuel Macron at every opportunity.
The rumors are spread by the plotters, the Yellow Vests and the anti-vaccines.
According to BFMTV, the French cable channel, the first lady will appear in court to denounce them.
Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron are preparing to receive Alberto Fernández in May. Photo: AFP
The origins and threats
The Libération newspaper traced the origins of this rumor of the networks. In them is a pseudo-investigation carried out by the Internet user close to the spheres of the extreme right and conspiracy: Natacha Rey, on behalf of Faits & Documents, a publication close to the essayist Alain Soral.
The article was discovered in October by the conspiratorial blog “Profession Gendarme” that, among articles about alleged pro-LGBT witchcraft classes in California schools or how the Jewish people were “invented”, causes a stir. But it’s Natacha Rey’s interview, by a self-proclaimed outlet on YouTube, that really prompted his December 10 theory.
In the process, the hashtag #JeanMichelTrogneux remains among the most talked about topics on Twitter for several days in a row, supported by various far-right circles, anti-Macron activists close to the “yellow vests” and anti-vaccine activists. Several astonished newspaper articles begin to trace the origin of this malicious rumor.
Brigitte Macron, victim of fake news. Photo: AFP
The risks of the electoral campaign
The newspaper Le Monde warns about the risks in the French presidential campaign. “The episode reveals the fear of the media world that the presidential elections of 2022 could be parasitized, like the last two presidential elections in the United States, by infamous conspiracy theories“, wrote
“In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was accused of being involved in a sordid crime affair. a network of pedophiles in connection with a Washington pizzeria (the “PizzaGate”). In 2020, many conspiracy theories attributed to Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior with children, ”Le Monde described.
For le Monde, “there is something deeply american in the transphobic narrative directed at Brigitte Macron. As the specialist in radical communities Tristan Mendès-France, interviewed by Marianne, recalls, a similar accusation I had touched Michelle Obama ”.
Brigitte Macron during a meeting with boys, during a G7 summit. Photo: Reuters
History repeats itself? “For the few people convinced of the veracity of this story, it illustrates moral perversity and decadent sexuality of the elites: in their logic, the first lady is presented as a child rapist pedophile, a recurring motif of the far-right complosphere. American, Christian and Puritan, según The World. .
The French newspaper considers that “then, the Americanization of French public debates would have begun, and in that wake a series of infamous myths would arrive, which would almost send the rumors of Emmanuel Macron’s campaign on homosexuality in 2017 to an era of relative peace of mind, ”wrote Le Monde.
“The story of Brigitte Macron’s alleged sex change certainly has gained media coverage. But it is above all the expression of a mistake common to conspiratorial activists and journalists: giving disproportionate weight to social media, and especially to Twitter ”he said.
Giant figures of Emmanuel Macron and his wife, at the Nice carnival in 2019. Photo: Reuters
“The former invest a significant part of their time in this, convinced that it is possible to distort public debate playing with the platform’s algorithms to give visibility to marginal theses. Not always aware of these biases, the latter tend to confuse the topics highlighted by Twitter with a reflection of the concerns of the French ”, the French newspaper warned.
Trust in the written press
This explains that social networks inspire a feeling of mistrust, according to a study by Dentsu and the ACPM, the Alliance for French Media Press Figures. For the trust, the people now relies on quality written press.
“Today the first objective is to create trust in brands and create a bond within more qualitative contexts, rather than generate volume of contacts,” explained Pierre Calmard, CEO of Dentsu France.
The pandemic has reinforced the feeling of mistrust on the part of citizens about certain sources of information.
This new attitude has accentuated the demands of consumers regarding the behavior of brands and their communication.
The written press is the one that generates the confidence of the public now. They find seven factors in this: “reliability”, through the constant quality of the content, and “credibility”, which goes through the reputation of an entity as well as its experience, are at the forefront of concerns.
The other values that readers take into account is “The provenance of the environment”, its anchoring and its historical values but also its “transparency” and “proximity”, which evokes more personal and emotional values, such as the center of interest and opinions.
Brigitte Macron at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Photo: archive
“Confidence is one of the great forces of the press. Dentsu has proven it in over 3,600 interviews and one of the most robust methodologies. Trust is not decreed, it is built together ”, assured Stephane Bodier, CEO of the ACPM.
The paper press is the second of the most reliable measures of the French public, behind the general radio. This is due to the editorial experience and the legitimacy recognized by the consumers of the press to transmit the information. After her come the audio media and the digital version of the newspapers.
Globally, traditional media today benefit from a much better status than that of social networks. The latter enjoy very weak confidence, with a negative score of -47 points, behind the blogs and forums in France.
Anti-vaccine myths, toxic electoral information and now the sex of the first lady of France proves it. Disinformation swarms on the screens of citizens, who must make decisions.