The arrest of former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was surprise enough for the French media, but journalists commented Thursday that the extent of the coverage even stretches the bounds of legality in France.
French television reporter Thierry Arnaud has been in the business for more than 20 years. Despite the experience, he was surprised by the scene outside 100 Centre Street due to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s indictment.
"I mean, it's an unimaginable magnitude for us this story. This guy was on his way to becoming the next French president potentially," said Arnaud.
That may be why the sexual assault charges against the former IMF head have lead to an international media frenzy of epic proportions.
"The story as itself is interesting, and it's fascinating, and I understand that all the media of the world come here and talk about it, especially French media of course," said Marc Dechalvron, another French journalist.
Of particular interest to the French media is the fact that U.S. news outlets are showing video of Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs, which would not happen on French television.
"It's even illegal in France to show those kind of pictures,” said Dechalvron. “There is a law to protect those who are accused until they are judged."
"The most you would get to see would be the barely distinguishable head and shoulders of some guy sitting in the back of a police car with tainted windows," said Arnaud.
Despite the differences, all journalists were in the same boat in Lower Manhattan. Many were using the Downtown Manhattan sidewalks as makeshift studios and offices while covering the story.
Meanwhile, French cameraman Pierre-Jean Perrin was astounded by the media takeover here.
"I'm used to seeing a lot of cameras, but not that much,” said Perrin. “This is just crazy. It's crazy."
Another French journalist said he had only seen this many cameras at one other event: last month's royal wedding.