For some, he is the voice of France that we do not hear, but others see in him a populist danger: king of the audience and of the clash on TV, Cyril Hanouna is adored by his fans but criticized for the slippages of his show “Touche pas à mon poste”.
“The sores lie, the sores bark, but Baba’s caravan passes”, tweeted on November 20 the host-producer of the C8 channel to his “fanzouzes”, his 6 million subscribers.
An attempt for Baba – his nickname, which recalls his Tunisian Jewish origins – to close an intense controversy, with the key to referrals from Arcom, the media regulator, and a complaint for “public insult”.
On November 10, Hanouna had copiously insulted LFI deputy (and former columnist of the show) Louis Boyard.
He had just criticized his friend and boss, billionaire Vincent Bolloré, owner of the Canal+ group, to which C8 belongs.
At the end of October, the 48-year-old host had already caused an uproar by asking for a summary trial for the murderer of little Lola, then by rebuffing the Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti from a distance who blamed him for it.
– “Transgression” –
These sequences earned him broad condemnations in the political class and hearings in the firmament: according to C8, “Touche pas à mon poste” (TPMP) established its “monthly historical record” in November, with 1.83 million viewers in average each evening (2.06 on November 15).
Dull complexion, beard and jet black hair, the child of Lilas, near Paris, had a winding career on TV before becoming one of the kings as a host and influential boss of the production company H2O.
In 2010, he launched TPMP on France 4, then exploded in the public eye after his transfer in 2012 to D8, which became C8.
Inexhaustible energy and flowery patter using Arabic terms (“darka”, “rassrah”…), Hanouna debates divisive social issues at the head of a band of columnists, while amusing his audience, whom he calls ” my darlings” or “my little beauties”. He invites politicians as well as controversial figures like Professor Didier Raoult.
“TPMP lives on the limit, on transgression”, underlines for AFP the communicator Philippe Moreau Chevrolet.
This clash mechanism has earned C8 numerous warnings and sanctions, including an unprecedented fine of 3 million euros for a hoax deemed homophobic broadcast in 2017 in a version of TPMP.
Hanouna was also accused of giving too much voice to far-right candidate Eric Zemmour during the presidential election.
“I received more people from Nupes here than Zemmour (…) if you are a deputy it is thanks to us”, he had defended himself against Louis Boyard.
– “Second face” –
Invited then ephemeral columnist of TPMP, the Italian journalist Paolo Levi describes a character “very endearing at the start, very empathetic when he wants to seduce”.
“I had no preconceptions, I got carried away for this machine to seduce that is Hanouna”, tells Mr. Levi to AFP. “Afterwards, when we enter the system, we see a second face in the background and, at one point, I felt a little manipulated”.
He gave up his post as columnist after a heated debate on the anti-Covid health pass.
“It’s one of the only places on television where you can say what you want, including tough positions, with a popular audience, of the unemployed, of people at the RSA”, confirms Philippe Moreau Chevrolet, screenwriter of the comic strip “The President”, which imagined the animator as a presidential candidate.
This “creates a gap between a popular culture (…) that Hanouna recovers and the rest of the political class or the media which will be in a CSP+, urban bubble”, he believes.