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MSNBC Accidentally Calls French President Nicolas Sarkozy A Prostitute

The network apparently mixed up the outgoing president with Colombian prostitute Dania Suarez. The gaffe is especially ironic given some of Sarkozy's policies.

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MSNBC presumably didn't intend to cast aspersions on Sarkozy's career plans now that he's lost the French presidency to Francois Hollande. But somebody at the network just mixed up his chyron with one meant for Suarez, who was appearing on the Today Show. And the mistake was notable because of an issue that's been controversial for Sarkozy: his strict anti-prostitution law.

Prostitution is still technically legal in France, but in 2003, Sarkozy pushed through a law (known as Law Sarkozy II) that made "passive solicitation" a crime — meaning any person deemed by law enforcement to have "the intention to propose a remunerated sexual service” could be arrested. Police used a variety of methods to determine this "intention" — apparently, just wearing revealing clothes could be enough to get someone arrested. Many have criticized this law, arguing that it stigmatizes sex workers and drives them [pdf] into unsafe, isolated places. But it remains in effect, essentially allowing French police to label someone a prostitute without direct evidence, just by looking at them. So in a way, Sarkozy just got a taste of his own medicine.

h/t Tracy Quan