PARIS: Carla Bruni, the new wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, apologised yesterday for comparing the methods used by a French news magazine to those of the Nazi collaborationists during the Second World War. In her first media interview since marrying Sarkozy earlier this month, Bruni took aim at the website of left-leaning Nouvel Observateur magazine, which had suggested the president wanted to get back together with his previous wife.
"If this type of website had existed during the War, I wonder if it would have denounced Jews," Bruni said in her interview with L'Express magazine.
Nouvel Observateur said the remark was "quite extraordinary and pathetic" and Bruni immediately sought to calm the row.
"If I upset anyone, I am extremely sorry," Bruni said.
"I just wanted to say how badly I view these personal attacks, which degrade reporting," she added.
Nouvel Observateur said last week that Sarkozy had sent a text message to his former wife Cecilia, eight days before his marriage to Bruni, promising to "drop everything" if she returned to him.
He has denied the report and took the unprecedented step for a French president of launching legal action for forgery and use of forged materials - a criminal charge which could result in prison terms for the magazine's editors if proven.
Nouvel Observateur has stood by the story and the stand-off with Sarkozy has underscored increasingly poor relations between the president and the French Press.
In her lengthy interview with L'Express, Bruni leapt to her husband's defence and denied that their marriage was too hasty.
"Things between Nicolas and me weren't quick, they were immediate. Therefore, as far as we were concerned things moved quite slowly," Bruni said, adding, her marriage to the French president was for life and that she would put her pop star career on hold to become first lady.
"I am culturally Italian and I would not like to divorce," the former supermodel said.
"So I am the first lady up until the end of my husband's mandate, and then his wife until death," said the 40-year-old heiress, who once said monogamy "bores" her.
"I know that life can hold surprises, but that's what I hope for."
Bruni said she would put her musical career to one side after the release of her next album - currently in production studios - and that any profits from it would be donated to charity.
"I won't stop myself from writing and composing, but until the end of my husband's mandate, I probably won't record another album. After that, we'll see."
"Just as Nicolas is unlike his predecessors, I would also - while respecting the dignity of the office, like to keep my own personality," said Bruni, who plans to keep her own flat as well as the Elysee apartment.
"I don't yet know what I can do as first lady, but I know how I want to do it: seriously," she told the weekly.
"I want to reassure the French. I am 40 years old, I am normal, serious, conscientious, simple if privileged.