US, French newspapers burnt in Rice grilling

10th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 9 (AFP) - The respected US and French dailies The Washington Post and Le Monde were left with egg on their faces Wednesday after mistakenly reporting that a son of French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier was chosen to question US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Paris.

PARIS, Feb 9 (AFP) - The respected US and French dailies The Washington Post and Le Monde were left with egg on their faces Wednesday after mistakenly reporting that a son of French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier was chosen to question US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Paris.

The two newspapers said that a Benjamin Barnier got past a vetting process to ask a question of Rice about Iraq's Shiite majority possibly forming a theocratic government.

Both reported that Benjamin, a 24-year-old student at the Paris political sciences institute where Rice gave a key speech Tuesday, was Michel Barnier's "son" - who is also named Benjamin, but aged only 17.

Benjamin Barnier and the institute confirmed to AFP Wednesday that he was not in fact related to the French foreign minister, who met Rice after she held talks with French President Jacques Chirac following the speech.

"It's flattering.... But it's not the case. I am not his son," Benjamin Barnier, the student, said.

He explained that several US journalists had spoken to him after his question to Rice, but that the Washington Post reporter had been absent when he explained he was not Michel Barnier's son.

He said the Washington Post had checked with the French embassy in Washington that Michel Barnier did indeed have a son named Benjamin, but that the coincidence in his sharing the same name tripped up the fact-checkers.

Le Monde's report simply cited the Washington Post article.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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