Over the past two weeks, the Internet and mainstream media combined to make a mess of the truth on the news France was waiting for: the arrival of the baby of Carla Bruni and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. On Twitter, the ex-supermodel gave birth over
PARIS - Carla Bruni-Sarkozy gave birth on Wednesday for about the 12th time in just the past few weeks. Of course this time, the heureux événement (happy event) was real. She and her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are the proud parents of a baby girl. French journalists and bloggers might be forgiven, however, if they first met the news with a healthy dose of skepticism. Twitter, after all, had been abuzz in France with false announcements of the "first baby," who's been the butt of a running-gag for several weeks now.
On several occasions, paparazzi tried to storm the Muette Clinic in Paris' 16th arrondissement only to find out that Carla Bruni hadn't actually arrived yet. That's exactly what happened on Sept. 28, when news spread that the presidential family had reserved a whole floor of the hospital. Turns out it was a false alarm -- a Twitter prank, actually.
Once again, the Internet came off looking like the reign of rumors. Never mind that often the rumors are sparked by journalists themselves. When it comes to events that are both public and private, and about which information is scant, the clumsy race for the scoop seems inevitable these days.
The Belgian radio station RTL announced the baby's birth on Oct. 8. It would have been a heck of scoop if the announcement hadn't preceded the actual birth by 11 days. What was RTL's source? Europe 1, another radio station, which got the news from a Flemish daily called De Standaard, which got the news from Europe 1. What? It turns out that at Europe 1, a radio impressionist named Nicolas Canteloup performed a comic sketch about the event. Not getting the joke, De Standaard reported the fake birth announcement as straight news. "According to the papers, I've already given birth three times," Carla Bruni told a friend.
The Internet feeds on the press, which in turn feeds on the Internet, thus creating an uncontrollable loop. On Oct. 9, a blogger named "tomsias' tweeted: "Pal Sarkozy is proud to announce that Vadim Sarkozy was born on Sunday, 4:20 p.m." The message listed the baby's birth details - . 2,920 kg, 51 cm (6.44 lbs, 20.09 inches) – and ended by saying "the mother is doing well." The news was widely repeated, although there was nothing genuine about it. By now, firing off an erroneous fact in order to later make fun of those who will re-tweet has become a mainstay amongst Twitter's self-anointed comediens.
This time, however, the prank got out of control. Agathe Lecaron, one of French radio station RTL 2's presenters, repeated the news. In her defense, she admitted she hadn't double-checked the facts. Later she admitted it had all been false. But the name ‘Vadim" given by the prankster would live on: feminine websites, like plurielles.fr, devoted articles to that rare Slavic first name, meaning "glorious reign."
Vadim Sarkozy, born on Twitter, lasted a few days, thanks to several rumors sometimes created by well-known users such as Bruno Roger-Petit, who tweeted no less than four times in three weeks the same cryptic message: "He is born."
And so he is – only he is a she. That's been confirmed by the President himself.
Read the original story in French
Photo – americanistadechiapas