Nicolas Sarkozy becomes first French head of state since Napoleon Bonaparte to end his marriage in office
Notice the quadruple-qualification that makes Sarko’s divorce a “first”: “French”; “head of state”; “since Napoleon”; and “in office”.
The journalistic tendency to speak about everything in terms of records broken, and “firsts” achieved has been prevalent in Scotland recently too. Wendy Alexander was apparently noteworthy because she was Scottish Labour’s first woman leader (though Anabel Goldie already leads the Tories). And Jack McConnell was feted as Scotland’s “longest serving” First Minister, a contrived “record” since he had only two predecessors, both of whom left office early in exceptional circumstances.
These “firsts” and “record breakers” are irritating because they are a distraction. They are a lazy hook for journalists to begin the story, eating up word count that could be used to analyse the event itself. Of course there is no precise precedent for Sorkozy’s domestic re-alignment – But is that fact likely to have an impact on how the French will manage the situation? Indeed, does the event have any political significance at all?
Has anyone else noticed any contrived “firsts”?
The Onion: Zambia Elects Black President