Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There is NO such thing as off the record

What if a journalist says 'we can talk off the record?' I get asked this all the time in media training sessions. There is no such thing. And it's not even just journalists that you need to watch your mouth around, anyone and everyone can be a newshound thanks to technology. Just ask designer John Galliano. The news has just broken overnight that the fashion house Christian Dior has begun proceedings to sack him for anti-Semitic comments he made in a Paris bar. (Do I need to say that this alleged behaviour is absolutely disgusting?) Galliano's behaviour was filmed in the Paris bar by patrons.

Here is an extract from the report just filed with the New York Times.
"In a brief statement, Sidney Toledano, Dior Couture’s chief executive, said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the words and actions of Mr. Galliano, “which are in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house.”

Dior said it had “immediately suspended relations” with Mr. Galliano and that it had “initiated dismissal procedures.” It cited the “particularly odious comments” contained in a video published Monday.

The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I loveHitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.

Late Monday, the actress Natalie Portman, who recently signed an endorsement deal with Dior for its Miss Dior Chérie perfume, strongly condemned Mr. Galliano. In a statement, she said: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

Mr. Galliano was initially questioned by the police last Thursday after a separate incident at the bar, in the Marais district of Paris. He was accused by two other clients of making an anti-Semitic slur.

Mr. Galliano was suspended Friday by Dior. The fashion house, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, cited its “unequivocal zero-tolerance policy regarding anti-Semitism and racism” after the initial incident was reported.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday, except to say that witnesses, including Mr. Galliano, had been questioned again Monday and then released. She referred all questions to the Paris prosecutor, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

According to French media reports, the police questioned the owner of La Perle, which Mr. Galliano frequents, the bar’s security staff and other clients.

Mr. Galliano’s lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, was not available for comment Tuesday. He has previously contested the accusations of anti-Semitism against his client. READ THE FULL REPORT: New York Times

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