Le Figaro (French pronunciation: [lə fiɡaʁo]) is a French daily newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. It is the oldest and second-largest national newspaper in France after Aujourd'hui en France and before Le Monde. Its editorial line is right-wing and has generally been supportive of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Its circulation was 320,003 in 2008 (366,529 in 2001).
Le Figaro is owned by Groupe Le Figaro, whose publications include TV Magazine and Evene. The company's chairman is Serge Dassault, whose group has controlled the paper since 2004.
The paper was founded as a satirical weekly in 1826, taking its name and motto from Le Mariage de Figaro, a play by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. (The motto, "Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n'est point d'éloge flatteur" translates as "Without the freedom to criticise, there is no true praise".) It was published somewhat irregularly until 1854, when it was taken over by Hippolyte de Villemessant. By 1866 it had gained the greatest circulation of any newspaper in France; its first daily edition, that of 16 November 1866 sold 56,000 copies. Albert Wolff, Émile Zola, Alphonse Karr and Jules Claretie were among the paper's early contributors.
On 16 March 1914, Gaston Calmette, the editor of Le Figaro, was assassinated by Henriette Caillaux, the wife of a former Prime Minister of France, after he published a letter that cast serious doubt on her husband's integrity.
By the start of World War II, Le Figaro had become France's leading newspaper. After the war it became the voice of the upper middle class, and continues to maintain a conservative position.
In 1922, Le Figaro was purchased by perfume millionaire François Coty. In 1975, Le Figaro was bought by Robert Hersant's Socpresse. In 1999, the Carlyle Group obtained a 40% stake in the paper, which it later sold in March 2002. As of 2004 , Le Figaro is controlled by Serge Dassault, a conservative businessman and politician best known for running the aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, which he inherited from his father, its founder, Marcel (1892–1986).
Highly controversial both inside and outside the newspaper is its ownership by a person who also controls a major military supplier, as well as being a mayor and senator from the ruling UMP party, and whose son Olivier Dassault is a member of the French National Assembly for the same party. In response, Dassault remarked in an interview on the public radio station France Inter, that "newspapers must promulgate healthy ideas", and that "left-wing ideas are not healthy ideas."
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