An AFP photographer was barred from a National Front conference on Friday after the party accused the news agency of deliberately publishing “ugly” pictures of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
“You sell photographs of her that are aberrations,” Le Pen’s cabinet chief, Charlotte Soula, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the world’s oldest news agency and the second-largest in the world after the Associated Press.
“We’re not throwing a girly tantrum here,” she said. “These pictures are so ugly that they border on outright insults. We’re convinced you are going it deliberately.”
AFP’s senior management responded by saying that it “refuted all allegations” of being unbalanced in its coverage of the National Front leader and that its photographers “apply the rules of impartiality, which are a cornerstone of our mission, as do all of the agency’s journalists”.
The conference, being held at the National Front party’s headquarters in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, was supposed to be a review of the “big failure” of the first six months of Socialist President François Hollande’s term in office.
Subsequent coverage of the event in the French media, however, focused on Le Pen’s displeasure at her treatment by AFP’s photographers.
Marine Le Pen, 44, took over the National Front’s party leadership from her outspoken father and party founder Jean-Marie in January 2011.
Her image as a softer — as well as more photogenic — leader than her father has been partly credited for the party’s strong performance in the first round of the 2012 presidential election, in which the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic party took a surprising 17.9 percent of the vote.