Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

Be soft on Juncker, YouTube told interviewer

  • Laetitia Birbes (r) during her YouTube interview with Juncker (Photo: European Commission)

A French YouTuber has claimed she was told by YouTube not to ask difficult questions to European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in a broadcast event last week.

Laetitia Birbes said she was threatened that her YouTube career would be over if she did not steer clear of issues like lobbying and tax avoidance.
 


Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Laetitia - her blogger name - was chosen by YouTube as one of three "YouTube stars" to interview Juncker, along with Poland's Lukasz Jakobiak and Germany's Jonas Ems.

The 32-year old participated last Thursday (15 September) in a programme called Ask Juncker organised by YouTube, a US video-sharing website, Euronews TV channel and the commission itself, which was broadcast live on internet and TV.


In her 15-minute talk with Juncker, in a kitchen setting, she asked the commission president questions about glyphosate chemical products, about his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso's decision to join Goldman Sachs, and about his will to fight tax evasion in Europe.

"Entrust someone who was finance minister for 18 years in Europe's biggest tax haven with the mission to fight tax evasion, isn't it like naming a bank robber as police chief?" she asked Juncker, referring to his past job in Luxembourg.

"It's often said that robbers and poachers are the best members of police services," Juncker quipped in reply, before adding that the question was "superficial" and showed "French condescension" towards his country.

In a video posted on Sunday, Laetitia said she was pressured by YouTube not to ask the questions.

She included a footage of her with a YouTube representative in which she seems to be threatened not to do so.

"That's already a hyper difficult question for Mr Juncker to answer, you talk about company lobbying. At one time, you are not going to antagonise the European Commission and YouTube, and all the people who believe in you," the YouTube representative told her.

Then he added: "Well, unless you don't intend to last long on YouTube."

Birbes says in her video: "YouTube had promised I could ask all the questions I wanted. But then, as we went along, I realised there were important questions that didn't go well.

"At first I realised that YouTube was trying to gently influence me. Then it went further and I felt threatened."

In the footage, the YouTube employee can be heard saying they would have to refer to "Natasha", possibly referring to a Juncker aide called Natasha Bertaud, and that "there is a risk of red flag" to the questions.

"I realised they expected me to ask super smooth questions and that the goal of all that what to make a super big advertisement for Juncker," Beribes says.

"They suggested me to ask Juncker 'What is happiness?' to talk about his Nokia 3310 telephone and his dog Plato," the YouTuber also told the French Rue89 website.

In the interviews by the two other YouTubers, Juncker was asked questions like "Can you give us three good reasons why young people need the EU?" and "what is the most common criticism against you and how do you react to that?" and "Why is Europe not in a good shape?"

In a statement to Rue89, YouTube said that the man filmed with Birbes just "encouraged her to favour respect to confrontation".

"As the video of the interview proves, she had the opportunity to ask all the questions she had prepared," the firm said.

According to Birbes, she was offered a contract by YouTube the day after the interview, but she said she would not sign it because she wanted to stay independent.

She runs a blog and a YouTube channel called Le Corps, la Maison, l'Esprit (Body, House, Spirit), about lifestyle and personal well-being.

Commission edited out Juncker gaffe

A European Commission spokeswoman has defended the practice of editing online transcripts of speeches to remove controversial comments.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban