Rich Galen

Finally we have the curious case of the open microphone at the G-20 meeting in, as reported "the French resort of Cannes."

The G-20 is a meeting of the finance ministers of the world's major economies. Back in 1973 the finance ministers of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Japan met in Washington. That became known as the G-5. Canada and Italy were added to make it the G-7. Russia wanted to come so it became the G-8.

At this rate, in a few years the G-20 will simply be known as the General Assembly.

Anyway, it seems that U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were chatting each other up waiting for a joint news conference to begin. As Obama doesn't speak French and Sarkozy is not known as being fluent in English the simultaneous translators were on the job.

In order for the translators to translate, they have to be able to hear what the participants are saying so the microphones were on. What no one realized was, the feed into the press room was also turned on and the reporters could also hear what Obama and Sarkozy were saying.

They, like two schoolgirls at the cool kid's lunch table, were talking about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And, they were talking bad about him.

Sarkozy said, ""I can't stand him. He's a liar."

Obama, not wanting to be tossed out of the Cool Kids Club said, "You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day."

Here's the part that bothers me. The American reporters who overheard this exchange decided not to report it as it was a "private conversation." It wasn't until a French website reported the discussion that it made its way back to America.

The press corps will survive this, but it seems to me that those who charge the U.S. media is continuing to protect Obama have a stronger case today than they did last week.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at