French President Francois Hollande is in a bit of a fix. A tabloid newspaper has made allegations of an affair with actress Julie Gayet. His current squeeze, Valerie Trierweiler, is in hospital suffering from ‘very strong emotional shock’ after hearing allegations that the President had cheated on her. At a press conference today, President Hollande deflected the first question about his alleged affair, saying "private matters should remain private".
So how should President Hollande deal with the international media attention and barrage of questions? The French press, having had the question from their representative batted aside at the conference today, seemed to have accepted the response. Closer magazine, which broke the story, has removed all references from its website, following an approach from Ms Gayet's legal team. The international press are likely to be less forgiving and co-operative.
Whatever the truth of the allegations, and there does seem to be a lot of evidence, there's no doubt that the President has to respond at some point. The more he keeps the media waiting, the greater the speculation that will occur, and the longer his name will appear in the headlines.
Here's my advice to him - "Sortir avec vos mains en l'air" (Come out with your hands in the air). Talk to the press, and make yourself the prime source of information. Tell your side of the story. If you need to apologise, do it now, and make it sincere. If you plan to leave your current partner, get it over with. If you plan to stay with her (of course, that's not entirely your decision), end any affairs, say so publicly, and go away with her for a few days.
Every politician gets to a point where they think they can outmaneuvre the press. They are wrong. Everything comes out in the end. It's better to tell the truth, tell it early and move on.