Media: fuss about alleged SMS from Springer boss Döpfner

A media report about alleged internal messages from Axel Springer boss Mathias Döpfner has again caused a stir about the affair surrounding the former "Bild" editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt.

Media: fuss about alleged SMS from Springer boss Döpfner

A media report about alleged internal messages from Axel Springer boss Mathias Döpfner has again caused a stir about the affair surrounding the former "Bild" editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt. According to information from the German Press Agency, Springer circles responded on Thursday that the article consisted of "manipulative SMS scraps".

The weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" published a long report on the Springer boss early in the morning and, according to its own statements, referred to documents that are said to have come from previous years. It is about e-mails and chat messages from the closest management circle of the media group, many are from the Springer boss himself. The newspaper listed quotes. It is striking that several were said to have been sent directly by Döpfner to the then "Bild" editor-in-chief Reichelt. The journalistic brand "Bild" is part of the Springer portfolio.

The quotes that "Die Zeit" lists, including the spelling mistakes they contain, deal with derogatory remarks about East Germany, for example. According to the newspaper report, the head of the group is said to have written in 2019: "The ossis will never become democrats. Perhaps the former GDR should be turned into an agricultural and production zone with a standard wage."

Sympathy for Donald Trump

The quotes published by the weekly newspaper are also about sympathy for Donald Trump's policies. And apparently, according to the report, it is also about criticism of ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). "Zeit" used a quote in which "M" is mentioned. "It is a nail in the coffin of democracy." The quotes are also about an aversion to wind turbines. The newspaper also writes that the head of the publishing house, Döpfner, acted in a partisan way. He is said to have wished for pro-FDP reporting in the "Bild" before the last federal election.

From Springer circles it was further said about the "Zeit" article that Döpfner was a strong-opined publishing boss who, on principle, always challenged opposing opinions and contradictions and repeatedly polemicized about it. You can be measured by what is in the publisher's publications, not by alleged excerpts from personal chats. The intention of the article is recognizable: it should cause unrest and distract from the essentials.

With the article, the Reichelt affair catches up with the media group, which wants to expand primarily in the USA. Reichelt had to vacate his position as editor-in-chief of Germany's largest tabloid in autumn 2021 and leave the group. The background to his end at "Bild" had been allegations of abuse of power in connection with consensual relationships with employees. The journalist himself later spoke of a "smear campaign" against him and had rejected allegations.

In the spring of 2021, the media group initiated internal proceedings against the journalist to review the allegations and initially decided to give him a second chance. A media report in the US newspaper "New York Times" picked up the case again in October 2021, and Springer immediately drew a line and released Reichelt from his duties.

The news magazine "Der Spiegel" reported independently of the "Zeit" report, citing its own information, that Springer had been considering legal action against Reichelt for some time. Julian Reichelt's media lawyer, Ben Irle - who is also quoted in the "Zeit" reporting - said when asked by the dpa that they were examining "the criminal prosecution of behavior and civil claims against all those involved".

Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre asks: "Are you awake?"

The "Zeit" report appeared a few days before the publication of the new book by author Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, which was eagerly awaited in the media industry. The fictional work "Still awake?", which will be published on April 19, is said to be a roman à clef about the Springer media company.

Stuckrad-Barre became part of the New York Times' coverage of Springer in October, which helped trigger Reichelt's departure. Döpfner drew criticism from the media industry with a private short message quoted in the article that he had sent to Stuckrad-Barre. In it, the Springer boss described Reichelt as the last and only journalist in Germany who was still bravely rebelling against the "new GDR authoritarian state". Almost everyone else had become "propaganda assistants". Springer classified the short message as ironic.

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