BERLIN (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron, accused by critics of being out of touch with ordinary people, denied in an interview with a German magazine he was aloof, saying that he was merely trying to stamp out cronyism between politicians and the media.
The 39-year-old former banker was caught on video earlier this month saying during a visit to a struggling company that workers protesting his economic policies would do better to get a job in a nearby aluminum factory battling to find employees.
That prompted the far-left and far-right, who have sought to cast Macron as out of touch with the common man and a president for the rich, to say he had shown “contempt”.
But Macron told Germany’s Der Spiegel: “I am not aloof. When I travel through the country, when I visit a factory, my staff tell me after three hours that I am ruining the schedule.”
He added: “When I am with French people, I am not aloof because I belong to them.”
Macron said being surrounded by journalists was not akin with being close to the people, adding: “A president should keep the media at arm’s length.”
He has said he planned a “Jupiterian” presidency – dignified and weighing his pronouncements carefully – a departure from his often-mocked predecessor Francois Hollande’s man-of-the-people style.
Macron said on Friday in a surprise move that he would give his first long live TV interview on Sunday evening.