Hollande's remark, made during his appearance on the Quotidien program on French TV channel TMC Wednesday night, was part of his answer to a question about Macron's behavior during his Washington trip.
Calling the handshakes and gestures, "strange," Hollande said that "from this point of view, Emmanuel Macron is rather the passive one in the couple." The offhand remark prompted the audience to break out in applause and laughter.
Que représentent les gestes/tapes à répétition entre Macron et Trump?— Quotidien (@Qofficiel) 25 апреля 2018 г.
"C’est un comportement étrange du côté de Trump. Macron est plutôt passif dans le couple" envoie François Hollande.@fhollande #Quotidien pic.twitter.com/G1hqURTJnP
Not everyone was laughing, however. Macron ally and government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux charged the former president with "a touch of homophobia," adding that this "crude humor" does Hollande "no credit."
Social media also rushed to attack Hollande, pointing to some of his own awkward moments during his presidency.
"Who was the passive one here?"
Pitoyable, inélégant d'une bassesse indigne d'un ancien président vis à vis d'@EmmanuelMacron#Hollande: les gestes/tapes à répétition entre Macron et Trump?— Ňadia G. (@NadiaGuessabi) 25 апреля 2018 г.
"C’est un comportement étrange du côté de Trump. Macron est plutôt passif dans le couple" envoie François Hollande.
"A pitiable, inelegant remark unworthy of a former president with respect to @EmmanuelMacron."
Socialist politician Hubert Vedrine noted that while Hollande has shown off his "talent as a comedian, at least Macron has the merit of trying something with the American president."