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Famed French TV anchor caught out in Hemingway plagiarism scandal

Text by Jon FROSCH

Latest update : 2011-01-06

French journalist and famed TV personality Patrick Poivre d’Arvor is no stranger to controversy and scandal. But new accusations of rampant plagiarism in his biography of Ernest Hemingway have stirred up a media storm.

Famed journalist and writer Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, who has more than 30 years of broadcasting experience under his belt and is a household name in his native France, has been accused by a leading French newspaper of plagiarism in his upcoming biography of US writer Ernest Hemingway (to be released January 19).

Poivre d’Arvor is no stranger to controversy, the most infamous being in 1991 when was found to have faked an “exclusive” interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. PPDA, as he is nicknamed in France, used press conference footage and inserted his own questions through editing. The journalist blamed the fiasco on his colleague and editor, Régis Faucon, and suffered no punishment.

Scandal after scandal


The fabricated Castro interview came at a time when PPDA was already squirming after a bizarre incident in 1990 during the first Iraq war, in which he smuggled an 18-month-old child from Baghdad into France.

The TV journalist also received a suspended prison sentence and a large fine in the 1990s for receiving the proceeds of embezzled funds.

As a result of managing to bounce back onto French TV screens from these seemingly career-ending scandals, opinion in France seems to be that he will survive this latest revelation.

They may have a point: when PPDA was replaced as TF1 television's evening news star by a considerably younger female journalist, Laurence Ferrari, surveys showed that audiences missed PPDA. Luckily for them, the journalist who consistently polls as French viewers’ favourite - and who was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 2003 – continues to host a weekly programme on public TV channel France 5.

'Cut and paste' from a US autobiography

The plagiarism allegation emerged in respected French weekly newspaper l’Express, it argues that Poivre d’Arvor lifted “dozens and dozens of paragraphs, copy-and-paste style” from a biography of Hemingway by Peter Griffin that was published in the US in 1985 and translated into French in 1989.

L’Express said Wednesday that Poivre d’Arvor, who is an extensively published author of autobiographical texts, “dressed things up by changing syntax and using synonyms” and published on its site a side-by-side comparison of the excerpts in question. The article, scathingly headlined “Patrick Plagiarism d’Arvor”, specifically alleges that the two books have the same “structure, transitions, historical digressions, descriptions of scenery, and parts of letters”.

France24.com was unable to reach Poivre d’Arvor, but the journalist told l’Express: “I spent a year and a half writing this book, and I find this suspicion of plagiarism very insulting”. Meanwhile, publishing house Arthaud has scrambled to vouch for the author, releasing a statement that the version of the text referred to in the press was a work in progress not “validated” by Poivre d’Arvor.

Excerpts from PPDA's and Peter Griffin's books appeared side by side in French newspaper L'Express.


Date created : 2011-01-05

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