Claas Relotius, a journalist for the German magazine Der Spiegel and former CNN Journalist of the Year, was forced to resign after it was discovered he fabricated his stories “on a grand scale” for many years.
Relotius admitted to completely inventing over a dozen pieces by fictionalizing sources, characters, and quotes, following an internal investigation by the magazine.
“I am sick and I need to get help,” he reportedly told colleagues at Der Spiegel.
Relotius had previously been outed for writing an article that tried to portray a small town in Minnesota that supports President Trump as a bunch of racists.
Der Spiegel says top journalist faked stories for years
Der Spiegel is Germany’s Mother Jones. https://t.co/5duoHSJFIU
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 19, 2018
CNN Journalist of the Year
Relotius has been showered with several awards for journalism, including the Deutscher Reporterpreis in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018, CNN’s “Journalist of the Year” in 2014, and the European Press Prize in 2017.
Here he is accepting the CNN award for excellence in journalism.
Der Spiegel is very anti-Trump
The German magazine has been virulently anti-Trump since he became President.
In 2017, they led rock legend Steven Patrick Morrissey by asking him “If there was a button here and if you pressed on it, Trump would die … would you push it or not?”
Earlier that year they published a cover image which showed President Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.
For the magazine to admit that one of their top writers, a journalist who also engaged in anti-Trump propaganda, fabricated stories, is a remarkable confession.
Relotius fit right in with this article
Relotius penned an article titled “In a Small Town, Where they pray for Trump on Sundays,” which was designed to portray residents of Fergus Falls, Minnesota as a bunch of backward, racist supporters of the President.
In the opening paragraphs, Relotius describes a sign that was placed next to the city’s official welcome sign and allegedly contained a racist message.
“Four days after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, there is a second sign next to the welcome sign at the entrance to the town,” he wrote. “On this sign, driven out of thick wood into the frozen ground, stands in large, painted letters: ‘Mexicans Keep Out.'”
A pair of investigators, however, have dismissed the article as “endless pages of an insulting, if not hilarious, excuse for journalism.”
The piece, they say, only bears truth when it discusses basic elements of the town, including such aspects as population and the names of businesses.
Nearly everything else was made up.
“Obama was there for bankers, gays and students, but not for ordinary people, and that’s over: Trump will kick everyone in the ass,” one made up quote reads.
The attempt was clear – Relotius set out to convey that there are small towns of racist homophobes who love the President.
One of the investigators, Michele Anderson, charged that Relotius was banking on the fact that Der Spiegel is not exactly high-demand reading in that small town, and assumed they wouldn’t be able to translate his work anyway.
“He invented entirely fictional stories about individuals or events in our community,” Anderson wrote, “and only really visited to take photos that would support the story he had already made up.”
This is the very definition of ‘fake news.’