"Power interests me, but it does not carry me in his heart," Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, who died on Tuesday, October 3 at the age of 86, used to repeat. This strong man of radio and television liked nothing more than to kick the politicians who paraded in front of his microphone. He made his debut at the ORTF at the age of 29 where he spoke about international politics, a position he held until his dismissal in 1968 for participating in strikes. He then took the reins of the "13 Heures" of the first channel, then that of the second channel. But it is later, in the exercise of the interview that he will show the extent of his pugnacity.
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1980: L'e mpoignade with Georges Marchais
At the helm of "Cartes sur table" with Alain Duhamel, the interviewer receives political figures such as François Mitterrand, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Jacques Chirac or Margaret Thatcher. Georges Marchais, Secretary General of the French Communist Party from 1972 to 1992, also visited the set several times. On January 21, 1980, the questions of the two journalists annoyed the politician. Elkabbach is obviously asking for one too many when he asks her opinion on the wars of the "Soviet Union and its struggle against imperialism". Answer of the person concerned, who sees it as a trick question: "It's been twenty times that I talk with you and you can not get in your little head that I also have a brain". The remark makes the journalist smile. His interlocutor struggles to calm down.
1990 - 2000: the interview for playground
In 1996, Jean-Pierre Elkabbach left France Télévisions to return to Europe 1 where he had worked in the 1980s. The journalist is given a daily interview, as well as a Sunday interview. Feared by his guests, he multiplies catchphrases and well-felt tackles. "Hello Marine Le Pen. You are not ashamed?" he asked his guest, the president of the National Front, in 2015, who did not understand the meaning of the question. The journalist reproached him for not having attended demonstrations in support of Charlie Hebdo.
Same preferential treatment for the Secretary of State for Territorial Reform under François Hollande, André Vallini, who must answer "what color he prefers the wall on which his reform will be smashed"... Within the same government, Fleur Pellerin, former Minister of Culture is offered the "last two Pleiades". The guest considers this gesture "contemptuous". The reason for it? She had made the blunder a few weeks before to confide that she had "not had time to read at all for two years".
2014: a rare interview with Vladimir Putin
"We had really annoyed them day and night, we had gone to Moscow to discuss with his spokesman," Jean-Pierre Elkabbach confided in 2022 at the microphone of France Inter to tell the underside of his interview with Putin. In 2014, he and Gilles Bouleau were received by the Russian president. An interview of more than an hour during which Vladimir Putin describes the journalist of Europe 1 as "aggressive"."Why do you think a war is coming? Why are you trying to scare everyone?" asked Vladimir Putin, in response to his questions. To which Jean-Pierre Elkabbach replies: "Ukraine is not so far away"...
2016: spicy exchange with Bruno Lemaire
Alongside David Pujadas, Jean-Pierre Elkabbach is appointed to lead the debate between the right-wing candidates before the first round of their primary. On the set, Bruno Le Maire says he does not want to leave "the monopoly of political renewal to the left". Unconvinced, Elkabbach asks him "why it doesn't work with [him]". The remark provokes laughter from his competitors, not from Le Maire: "What tells you it's not going to work? Do you already know Sunday's result?" His explanations are cut short by the journalist who invites to "talk about it again on Monday", after the first round. An insinuation that offends Bruno Le Maire, now Minister of the Economy: "I am a candidate in the primary, it simply deserves the respect of you."