Next Act

12.21.11

DSK's Wife Says She Will Head French Version of the Huffington Post

Recently selected France’s Woman of the Year, Anne Sinclair says in an email that she will become editorial director of the French version of the Huffington Post, raising questions about how the site will cover Dominique Strauss-Kahn's ongoing sex scandals.

After a year in which Anne Sinclair stood by her scandal-soaked husband—the disgraced former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn—things are finally looking up for the French news celebrity.

Yes, the heiress-turned-star television journalist-turned-loyal wife to a powerful man of dubious character was humiliated, dragged through the mud and persuaded to spend a chunk of her fortune on DSK’s legal defense, but she appears to be set to get her career back. She soon may become France’s Arianna Huffington.

Sinclair effectively announced by email this month that she will become the head of the French version of the Huffington Post. Neither the HuffPo nor the main investors in the French version have formally announced who will lead the new venture. But Sinclair recently sent an email to dozens of French blogueurs in which she explained, “I will be the editorial director of this now information organ.”

In the email, portions of which were excerpted by the respected French news website Rue89.com, Sinclair sought contributions for the website, whose editorial team will be “made up of young journalists” and a “circle of experts in the broadest sense of the term.” She also notes that contributors will not be paid, “but we will give them the greatest visibility possible, thanks, I hope, to the force de frappe of the Huffington Post.” The site will go live, she wrote, in January 2012.

The relaunching of the journalistic career of Sinclair—who was akin to a more politically inclined Barbara Walters—is a de facto acknowledgement that her husband is not expecting any sort of a political resurrection. When Strauss-Kahn became France’s minister of finance in 1997, Sinclair essentially put her career on hold to avoid ethical quandaries. Initially, she shifted away from domestic political coverage, but then departed her network altogether a few years later. She briefly returned to political journalism, in the U.S., to cover the 2008 presidential election, after her husband left French politics and moved to Washington to helm the International Monetary Fund.

After the year she’s had, it is easy to understand why Sinclair might want to return to a busy work schedule. Last winter, surveys suggested that she was the odds-on favorite to become France’s next first lady. (Dozens of polls showed her husband leading the unpopular incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy by historic margins, and Strauss-Kahn hadn’t even made a formal announcement that he was running.) By the spring, Sinclair was the humiliated and cuckolded partner of an allegedly violent sex criminal. Rather than abandon her husband, Sinclair, who is the heiress to a vast fortune that her grandfather earned in the art world, funded her husband’s big-dollar legal defense.

Would Sinclair decide to cover the ongoing civil case brought by the Sofitel Hotel maid in a New York courtroom?

After the New York prosecutor’s office folded its case against Strauss-Kahn, Sinclair’s faith in his innocence endured a second criminal allegation in France (related to an alleged assault dating back nearly a decade). More recently, a sex-related epilogue arose when investigators of the “Carlton Affair,” interviewed Strauss-Kahn about evidence linking him to an extensive pimping-and-prostitution ring in a luxury hotel in the northeastern French city of Lille.

It remains unclear whether the content of the French HuffPo will be identical to that of the U.S. version, but its editorial judgment and relative neutrality seem likely to be challenged by the scandals still swirling around Strauss-Kahn. Would Sinclair decide to cover the ongoing civil case brought by the Sofitel Hotel maid in a New York courtroom? What about forthcoming revelations from the investigation at the Carlton in Lille?

Interestingly, Sinclair remains stunningly untarnished in France over her devout stand-by-her-man stance. It may seem surreal from a U.S. perspective, but she recently was selected “Woman of the Year 2011” by a survey conducted for the website Terrafemina (which essentially means “Women’s World”).

Twenty-five percent of individuals polled by the respected CSA polling institute cited Sinclair, with many pointing to her courage under fire. She eked out a victory over more feminist-friendly role models. Christine Lagarde, who was France’s minister of finance until she was chosen to replace Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund, scored 24 percent and Martine Aubry, the bullish head of the Socialist Party, 23 percent. (Interestingly, French woman ranked Sinclair highest, while French men preferred Lagarde.)

But some French journalists were deeply disappointed in Sinclair’s response to her husband’s behavior. One female editor told The Daily Beast, not for attribution, that Sinclair should have acted as her own woman even if she was going to stay byher husband’s side in New York. “During the trial, she could have been classy and said, ‘I’m still a journalist.’ She could have done great things on the historic presidential election there,” the editor lamented. “But I suppose she had other fish to fry.”