DSK's long-silent wife launches Le Huffington Post

January 23, 2012 - 3:15 PM
France Huffington Post

Editorial director of the French version of the Huffington Post's news website Anne Sinclair, right, and co-founder of "the Huffington Post" Arianna Huffington, left, chat as they give a press conference for the launch of the website, in Paris, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — She was the silent, supportive wife during the scandal that forced her husband, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, into the spotlight of public scrutiny after his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York — later dropped.

Now, Anne Sinclair, once France's diva of TV journalism, has stepped back into the spotlight, announcing her return to the work force Monday, this time with Le Huffington Post, the made-in-France version of the news and opinion Web site.

For colleagues who ask how she stood by her man amid humiliating revelations, she has but one reply: mind your own business.

The 63-year-old Sinclair made her reputation as a journalist interviewing politicians and stars on her "7 Sur 7" TV show for 13 years. She later started up the Internet site of the leading French TV station.

On Monday, she joined Arianna Huffington, HuffPost's founder, at a packed news conference to announce the launch of Le Huffington Post, the first foreign-language version of the site, and her appointment as its editorial director.

More foreign-language HuffPosts are to follow in coming months, in Spain as early as March, in Italy in April, then in Brazil, Greece — where Huffington was born — and Turkey.

The small French version, with a team of eight journalists, is associated with the independent daily Le Monde, where its offices are located. Huffington would not divulge the operation's budget.

Despite the ambitious sweep of the project, Sinclair, a woman of independent means, will work without salary at a job she says "fell from the sky."

"Here, I'm not the most geeky person of the team. That's clear," Sinclair said during the introductions. But she said it's a pleasure to be back on the job — at a peak news time with the euro financial crisis, spring presidential elections in France, followed by the U.S. presidential voting.

Sinclair has spent the last eight months in the shadows as the stoic, silent wife in the sex assault scandal that began with the spectacular May 14 arrest of Strauss-Kahn — known here as DSK — after he boarded an Air France flight in New York for Paris.

Charged with sexual assault based on accusations by a housekeeper at Manhattan's Sofitel hotel, Strauss-Kahn was jailed on Rikers Island, then forced into a gilded prison, a luxury townhouse in Manhattan, an electronic bracelet locked on his ankle. As months passed, DSK's bid to become the Socialist candidate in French presidential elections this April and May disappeared, like his IMF job.

Sinclair's wealth cushioned the blows, from paying bail and rent for the extravagant townhouse — but raised questions about why she hung in as sordid tales came out.

Sinclair — long a role model among French women — vowed at Monday's news conference that there would be no conflict of interest in her new job.

"All important information will be treated normally. And everything that should be page 1 will be page 1," Sinclair insisted.

What if the news is about her husband?

"I wasn't expecting that question," she quipped. "I don't think it will be the essential news of 2012, but if it were we would handle it ... in a professional manner."

Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil lawsuit in the U.S. by the hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, but that could take years to reach court.

His name has surfaced in an ongoing investigation of a prostitution ring in Lille, in northern France, implicating police and other officials. However, he has not been questioned. French prosecutors refused to pursue an allegation by a young French writer of attempted rape in 2003.

The developments are a lot for any wife to digest.

Journalists who broached the topic Monday got no response. Sinclair noted that an interview in this week's Elle magazine says all she intends to say, for now.

She may one day recount her experience, and her choices, "But if I want to, when I want to and how I want to," she told Elle.

Her message in that interview was clear: mind your own business.

Her husband emerged in China in his own bid to rebuild a professional life, a speaker at a business conference in Beijing.

Sinclair feels no need to explain herself.

"That women may feel disappointment in me, I'm sorry but that's their problem ...," she said. "All the dikes that protect one's private life were broken" during the DSK affair in New York, she said.

"To be the object of speculation, permanent harassment to know what's happening in my household has something Orwellian about it. It's totalitarian," she told Elle.

Huffington may have provided a partial answer, referring to Sinclair as a "force of nature."

Later, she said that Sinclair can serve as an inspiration for women.

"It demonstrates to millions of women who have suffered their own defeats and obstacles and setbacks that they don't have to retreat, Huffington told The Associated Press. "

"They can come back and rejoin whatever it is that their passionate about, get back in the arena."