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He told them what they wanted to hear

It turns out that one of Germany’s best-regarded reporters, Claas Relotius, has been doing for Der Spiegel what Jayson Blair did for the New York Times.

I have given this post the tag “Deleted by the PC Media”. That’s because we don’t have a tag called “Invented by the PC Media”. Like Blair before him, if Mr Relotius could not find the right juicy detail to enliven a story his custom was to make one up. He was at it for years. This article about the Relotius case in Der Spiegel by Ullrich Fichtner has not yet appeared in English, but the miracle of Google Translate allows me to make a guess as to how Relotius got away with it so long:

In his story about Fergus Falls, Relotius, in a hurtingly haughty way, is styling contemporary history. To have a hearty prelude, he tells us that at the entrance to the village right next to the welcome sign, a second sign was set up, “half as high, but hard to miss … On this sign, driven from thick wood into the frozen ground, stands in large, painted letters: ‘Mexicans Keep Out’ – Mexican, stay away. ”

The shield, which gives the whole story the keynote, never existed, it was only in the imagination of the author. Nevertheless, he passed the invention on as a matter of fact to hundreds of thousands of readers, just like that. And he insulted the inhabitants of Fergus Falls. It seems so, in the overall view, that people who are no longer children tell him nothing. There are exceptions, but Relotius gives the inhabitants of Fergus Falls false biographies that fit him as if he were a puppeteer. He also goes along with grotesque lies, such as that the children of the John F. Kennedy High School painted their models for the American Dream as follows: “They painted,” writes Relotius, “not a single picture of a woman. One class painted Barack Obama, two painted John D. Rockefeller.

Schoolchildren in 2018 are so enchanted by the example of John D Rockerfeller that they choose him to represent the American Dream? It seems unlikely that they would even have heard of this capitalist except as a bogeyman. But evidently it did not seem an unlikely thing to happen in Trump’s America to Der Spiegel‘s readers. Relotius told them what they wanted to hear.

Update: In the comments Rob Fisher pointed out this “Fisking” of Relotius’s article by two residents of Fergus Falls:

There are so many lies here, that my friend Jake and I had to narrow them down to top 11 most absurd lies (we couldn’t do just 10) for the purpose of this article. We’ve been working on it since the article came out in spring of 2017, but had to set it aside to attend to our lives (raising a family, managing a nonprofit organization, etc.) before coming back to it this fall, and finally wrapped things up a few weeks ago, just in time to hear today that Relotius was fired when he was exposed for fabricating many of his articles.

11 comments to He told them what they wanted to hear

  • Dalben

    I suppose it’s not worth trying to sue him for libel, unfortunately.

  • Mr Ed

    A German media outlet spreading lies based on stereotypes doesn’t usually bode well.

  • Flubber

    I take it no one watches the psychotic spazzz out that is CNN then?

  • CaptDMO

    And I’m SURE that this is the only communications professional guilty of Yellow Journalism, lies-by-omission, and non-existent “sources” as well as COUNTING on disingenuous “protections” laws, to boost the alleged value of their “work”.
    “If ONLY someone could get to the king the editors and let them know what’s REALLY going on!!!!!”
    Trust me, the editors, and the boards, know what’s going on.
    Plausible deniability has ALWAYS been a bonus of hiring mercenaries.
    Of course, I could be wrong.

  • Paul Marks

    Germans do not seem to be very good at propaganda – the stories written by this “journalist” are obviously false, he could have lied in a far more subtle (and effective) way, as the BBC and so much of the English speaking “mainstream media” does. Perhaps it is says something good about Germans that they lie so badly – lying well is not a virtue.

    Still I thank this German – for reminding the world of John D. Rockefeller, a man who did a vast amount of good in the world by making better products (sometimes marketing new products – for example his kerosene replaced whale oil) and vastly reduced prices by his production methods. If only his descendants had not been the utter waste of space that they were.

    Women and the American Dream?

    Laura Ingalls Wilder? No the left do not like her – a “racist” because you thought that savages were savages )the lady did not give a damn what colour someone’s skin was – but she did not pretend that nomad raiders were not nomad raiders, as the modern left, with their “noble” savage fetish, do).

    Rose Wilder Land or Isabel Patterson? No I do not think the left would like them either – although they did not care about skin colour either.

    “No, no, no – we want an IMMIGRANT women, and one from an ethnic minority”.

    I have the perfect candidate – AYN RAND, an immigrant (from Russia) and from a Jewish family.

    I am sure the German newspaper will love to honour Ayn Rand – after all modern Germans have rejected Nazi anti Semitism and support Israel against what Rand (rightly) called the “savages” – after centuries of Islamic rule the “land between the river and the sea” was less developed (and far less populated) at the start of the 1800s than it has been under the Emperor Maurice at the start of 600s. And there were public slave auctions (in case anyone brings up Roman slavery) in the various lands of Arabia till the 1960s. Still let us have another BBC show pretending that some Roman ruins show the glories of Islamic civilisation (by the way – there actually are a lot of nice things from the various Islamic civilisations, the P.C. brigade are just too lazy to do a proper job).

    “Err Paul we do not know how to tell you this – but being “anti Nazi” in modern Germany has evolved to involve HATING JEWS”.

    Sadly so – like the “anti Nazi” Baader-Meinhof gang, with their “we do not hate Jews – we just hate Money Jews”.

    Somehow the German left have made it “anti” Nazi to hate Jews – but it is NOT just the German left, it is the Western left generally.

  • Chip

    Small beer. The Clinton-funded fable of Russian collusion has been the dominant news story for two years, and still it barrels along.

    A recent poll found a significant majority of Democrats believe the Russians physically changed the 2016 vote count.

    Humans simply are not very smart even when handed the means to access any information they want within seconds.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    Years ago, when I worked in newspapers, I learned very early on that the stuff the journalists wrote was officially called a “story.” It took me a while longer to realise that much of what was written was, in fact, just a story.

    I met one journalist in the course of my work in the business who said she was the only person she knew on the editorial floor who wasn’t yearning to be a novelist. Methinks maybe they are all practicing for their great novel, all the time.

  • Perhaps it is says something good about Germans that they lie so badly – lying well is not a virtue. (Paul Marks, December 20, 2018 at 1:01 am)

    A German media outlet spreading lies based on stereotypes doesn’t usually bode well. (Mr Ed, December 19, 2018 at 9:57 pm)

    I’m with Mr Ed on this: it says something bad, not good, about Germany that their MSM does not have to work on its lying skills because this low level suffices.

    That said, this is a German lying about US flyover country, not about Germany. When Kravchenko (I Chose Freedom) reached the US and saw Hollywood’s films on Stalin’s collectivisation and on the purges, he noticed how utterly the scriptwriters relied on their US audience knowing absolutely nothing – how, in Stalin’s Russia, those films could not have been shown to a random public audience.

    I sometimes have the suspicion that if we could be immersed in German media – and have the knowledge of Germany to let us assess it as we can the UK and US – we would realise we hardly know we’re born as regards being lied to by the MSM (and I say this as one who reads this blog, where the many insolent deceits of our media are chronicled, sometimes by yours truly).

  • Rob Fisher

    There is a lot of detail (a Fisking, almost) of the Fergus Falls article here: https://medium.com/@micheleanderson/der-spiegel-journalist-messed-with-the-wrong-small-town-d92f3e0e01a7

    Nearly everything is completely made up. It’s astonishing.

  • Rob Fisher

    Maybe the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed. Or maybe the blatant lies like this get found out more easily, and it is the subtle twisting of half-truths into narratives that is more of a threat:

    Der Spiegel published a story on my own German hometown a while ago, which was kinda eye-opening for me. I didn’t notice any obvious lies in there, but it left me angry nevertheless because it was obvious that there was a certain narrative and really an actual lack of true reporting with the goal to inform readers. It was really all about telling a “good story”.


  • Eric

    Germans do not seem to be very good at propaganda – the stories written by this “journalist” are obviously false…

    To Americans they’re obviously false. Germans, particularly German leftists, want to believe, and the easiest thing in the world is convincing people of something they want to believe.