Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, tried to silence his critics when he appeared on French TV in an hour-long interview on Monday.
He was meant to answer questions about recent political and economic developments, in particular quell doubts regarding the unpopular proposed pension reforms.
But instead, he spent much of his time fighting allegations of illegal financing for his 2007 election campaign.
The scandal has undermined his government's credibility and threatens to destabilise it.
It began as a family feud involving an enormously wealthy woman, her live-in companion, and an angry daughter.
With the secret recordings made by the butler a scandal of epic proportions has evolved that reaches to the very top of the French government.
What did the butler hear, and what will be the effect on a president attempting to implement widespread reforms?
Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with Samuel Laufer, the chair of Youth Abroad in the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), Jacques Reland, the head of European Research in the Global Policy Institute, and Nick Hewlett, a professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Tuesday July 13, 2010.