PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has rejected the idea that an author close to him was offered a top diplomatic position because of the old boy's network.

Macron has named Philippe Besson as consul general of the French Consulate in Los Angeles. The 51-year-old Besson has no diplomatic experience and published a eulogistic book last year depicting Macron's winning presidential campaign.

His appointment is being criticized as cronyism, but Macron defended the decision Thursday. The president told critics to "come to their senses," saying he is not in the habit of handing out jobs as rewards.

Macron said: "I want and will continue to open up all positions of responsibility within the administration, in particular for top government administrators' positions, to people of talent and merit coming from other horizons."