What the papers said 7 April 2017


The chemical attacks in Syria dominated headlines– though there was also space for digs at Airbnb and the Socialist Party.

Le Monde’s top story was the US response to the chemical attacks in Syria.

“The US lashes out against Moscow,” is the headline. Although the focus is on Russia, there was already a hint of the news. A photo shows the US ambassador to the United Nations suggesting that direct action against Syria might be possible.

In another US-related bit of news, Le Monde’s second headline is “The irresistible rise of Airbnb”, about the US-based home sharing company.

In France, the number of Airbnb listings has almost doubled in a year, with 8.3 million travellers renting a place in France through the site, Le Monde reports.

That rise comes despite an overall drop in tourism in France last year – and despite plenty of grumbling from the hotel industry, as well as from some city governments, who say that Airbnb takes away from available housing.

No room in the Socialists’ house

Le Monde managed to combine the Airbnb story with the presidential elections in a front-page cartoon.

The cartoon shows hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the street, carrying suitcases and backpack, apparently looking for a place to stay. He’s seen walking past the headquarters of the Socialist Party, shown here as a crumbling mansion. The head of the Socialist Party, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, is seen inside.

“We told you, we have no space for rent!” Cambadélis yells to Mélenchon. “Sure, sure,” Mélenchon says, as he walks away.

The title of the headline is “The success of Airbnb” – though the real subject is the fracturing of the political left in France.

‘Baptism by fire’

Right-leaning Le Figaro has a page-one editorial about US President Donald Trump’s reaction to the Syria chemical attacks.

“Donald Trump may have truly become president of the United States on April 5, 2017,” the editorial starts, referring to the day of the attacks which killed dozens of civilians, including children.

Le Figaro’s argument is that the attacks will finally force Trump to take his role as a world leader seriously.

Trump was “repulsed, appalled” by images of the attacks, and he is “measuring his responsibility, the complexity of the world, and the response that it demands”, the paper says.

The editorial was written yesterday, before US airstrikes had been announced, so Le Figaro ends by wondering exactly how Trump will respond.

The headline for that editorial is “Baptism by fire”, and now we know how appropriate it was.

‘The politics of the punch line’

Left-leaning Libération had a slightly different take. Their editorial says that Trump seems to be moving in the right direction, finally.

But as with Le Figaro, the editorial was written yesterday, so Libération was still wondering where Trump’s reaction would lead.

“Will he just pursue the politics of the punch line, where one Tweet follows another without any coherence?” Libé writes.

The editorial ends with a warning:

“A resurgence of purely national thinking will only have one victim: the Syrian people.”