Le Canard enchaîné
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Le Canard enchaîné (French pronunciation: [lə.ka.na.ʁɑ̃.ʃɛ’ne] ; English: The Chained Duck or The Chained Paper) is a satirical newspaper published weekly in France. Founded in 1915, it features investigative journalism and leaks from sources inside the French government, the French political world and the French business world, as well as many jokes and humorous cartoons.
The name is a reference to Radical Georges Clemenceau’s newspaper L’homme libre (“The Free Man”) which was forced to close by government censorship and reacted by changing its name to L’homme enchaîné (“The Chained-up Man”); Le Canard enchaîné means “The chained-up duck”, but canard (duck) is also French slang for “newspaper”; it was also a reference to French journals published by soldiers during World War I. It was founded by Maurice Maréchal and his wife Jeanne Maréchal, along with H. P. Gassier. It changed its title briefly after World War I to Le Canard Déchaîné (“The duck unbound”, or “out of control”), to celebrate the end of military censorship of the press. It resumed the title Le Canard enchaîné in 1920. The title also conveys a double meaning, “canard” being a possible salicious rumour or whisper and “enchaîné” simply meaning linked, hence “the inside whisper”. It continued to publish and grow in popularity and influence until it was forced to suspend publication during the German occupation of France in 1940. After the liberation of France, it resumed publication. It changed to its eight-page format in the 1960s.
Many of the Canard’s early contributors were members of the Communist and Socialist parties, but it shed its alignment with those groups in the 1920s. Its current owners are not tied to any political or economic group. It now avoids any political alignment, and has gained a reputation for publishing incriminating stories and criticizing any political party with no preference. It is also fairly anti-clerical and lampoons the nobility. The Canard does not accept any advertisements.
Format of a typical issue
The Canard pages are peppered with satirical cartoons. Here, René Pétillon mocks wealthy businesspeople who offshore both their production and their capital
The Canard has a fixed eight page layout. Pages 1, 2-4 and 8 are mostly news and editorials. Page 2 is anecdotes from the political and business world. Pages 5–7 are dedicated to social issues (such as the environment), profiles, general humour and satire, Cabu’s “Beauf” comic strip, and literary, theater, opera and film criticism. One section, called l’Album de la Comtesse, is dedicated to spoonerisms.
The Canard is notable because of its focus on scandals in French governmental and business circles, although it does also cover other countries.
Some of the information published by the Canard clearly comes from very well-placed sources, likely including ministerial aides. Charles de Gaulle was a frequent target; he was known to ask, “What does the bird have to say?” (Que dit le volatile?) every Wednesday – the day Canard would roll off the presses. There are often verbatim and off-the-record quotes from major politicians, including the president and prime minister, usually aimed at another politician.
It also publishes satirical cartoons and jokes. The factual and jocular columns are cleanly delineated.