LONDON: CNews, a free channel that has been dubbed “France’s Fox News,” pulled ahead as the most-watched 24-hour news broadcast in France for the first time on Monday, led by anti-Islam pundit Éric Zemmour.
Zemmour, an essayist with three convictions for hate speech, was hired by CNews in 2019, when the news channel switched its format to feature evenings dominated by conservative opinion and verbal clashes.
On his show, Zemmour blamed Islam for “driving France toward disaster” and accused thousands of unaccompanied minors who have migrated to France in recent years as being “thieves, murderers and rapists” who should be expelled.
The 62-year-old’s anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric was condemned by the state broadcasting authority but was conversely met with cheers from millions watching his evening show.
As a result, he emerged as a possible leader for the “patriotic” right as an alternative to Marine Le Pen, the right-wing candidate. Thirteen percent of voters would reportedly back a Zemmour candidacy in the 2022 presidential election.
Zemmour has been accused in recent weeks by several women, including journalists and a town councilor, of sexually assaulting them over the past 15 years. CNews said that it is standing behind its star broadcaster and that he would remain on the air.