The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, accused the magazine on Friday Der Spiegel to invent stories in the coverage he makes about his country and to carry out a perverse campaign against the United States. The controversy has arisen after it came to light that the journalist from the prestigious German weekly, Claas Relotius, 33, had invented testimonies and protagonists in some of his reports. The weekly received a letter from the ambassador, where the diplomat says that the magazine's management is "forcing" an anti-American campaign and that the journalists of the magazine lend themselves to what the management team demands of them.
"Reporters and editors have regularly published information and reports whose falsity would have been revealed if the facts had been verified first with the help of the Embassy of the United States, "the ambassador said in his letter dated December 21 and sent to the future editor of the weekly, Steffen Klusmann. "Unfortunately, journalists from Der Spiegel They did not even call us before writing. It is clear that we have been victims of a campaign of institutional bias. The anti-American coverage of Der Spiegel has increased dramatically in recent years; since President Trump took office, "the diplomat said.
The first suspicions about the professional rigor of the editor arose with the publication of a report published in November related to a US civilian militia that is dedicated to hunt refugees on the border of that country with Mexico.
The accusation that the publication is being carried out a campaign against the United States it has taken place after the weekly itself made a painful and rigorous self-criticism after discovering the editing that Relotius, one of its star journalists, had carried out. The scandal came to light last Wednesday and since then Der Spiegel he has not stopped apologizing, he has admitted the mistakes made and he has also promised that something similar will not happen again in the newsroom. This has been communicated to him, Dirk Kurbjuweit, current member of the collegiate management of the magazine, to the ambassador. Kurbjuweit will occupy a position of high responsibility in the direction of the weekly from next January 1.
"In fact, one of our reporters has largely invented the reports, including the reports about the United States. We apologize to all American citizens who have been insulted and denigrated by these reports. We are very sorry for that. This should never have happened. Our security and control systems have failed. We are working hard to clarify these issues and improve our procedures and standards, "the journalist writes in his response to the diplomat.
The journalist also admits that the magazine is critical of the current policy carried out by Donald Trump, a fact that does not necessarily, he warns, be confused with an anti-American policy. "If we criticize the US president, it is not anti-Americanism, but criticism of the politics of man in the White House. I find anti-Americanism profoundly strange and I am absolutely aware of what Germany owes to the United States: a lot. In Spiegel there is no institutional bias against the United States, "the journalist writes.
It is not yet clear what were the reasons that moved Richard Grenell to write his letter to the magazine, but most of the German media remember today that the current US ambassador to Germany is considered to be Trump's most important diplomat in Europe. . A man of his full confidence, but also a spokesman for the dangerous diplomacy that has carried out the tenant of the White House in the last two years. In the month of June, Grenell starred in a diplomatic scandal when he asked, from the pages of Breitbart News, support for new far-right parties in Europe, an idea that earned him the title in Berlin of "colonial officer of the extreme right" .
Since Der Spiegel announced the case of fraud, discussions about the scandal have not stopped and in its latest issue the magazine has taken it to its front page, which illustrated with a motto of its founder, Rudolf Augstein: "Say what it is".
"This house is broken. The worst thing that can happen to an editor has happened to us. For years we had reports and other texts in the magazine that did not describe reality, but were invented in part, "says the magazine. Our colleague Claas Relotius did not rely on research, but used his imagination to create quotes, scenes and people to make many of his stories look better and more exciting. For a journalist, that is unforgivable ", clarifies der Spiegel.