Allegedly pocketed funds raised for a Syrian orphan who does not exist
‘CNN Journalist of the Year’ Claas Relotius was recently fired by Der Spiegel after it was discovered he “systemically faking interviews and articles.”
Vijeta Uniyal covered the story at length here.
Der Spiegel has announced they will press charges against Relotious. From the NYT:
The announcement came as the United States ambassador waded into the scandal by accusing the newsmagazine of anti-American bias and calling for an independent audit.
Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, wrote a letter to Der Spiegel on Friday that appeared to try to tie the fraud committed by the reporter, Claas Relotius, 33, to the newsmagazine’s editorial methods.
Some of the most notable articles that Mr. Relotius admitted faking are set in the United States, such as profiles of a religious activist who travels the country to witness executions, anti-immigrant militiamen in Arizona and a town of Trump supporters in Minnesota.
The criminal complaint soon to be filed by Der Spiegel alleges Relotious created a fundraiser which he claimed would benefit two Syrian orphans. Only one of the orphans exist and the remaining funds went directly into Relotius’ pockets, claims the magazine. NYT ctd:
On Saturday night, the magazine announced in one of the many articles documenting Mr. Relotius’s misdeeds that the editors would be filing a criminal complaint against him after it emerged that he had set up a private donation drive ostensibly to help two Syrian orphans that he had profiled.
According to Der Spiegel, only one of the two orphans exists, and the aid money went to the reporter’s private bank account.
Mr. Relotius has not been available for comment since the scandal broke, but according to the newsmagazine’s editors, last week he explained the fraud this way: “It wasn’t about the next big thing. It was the fear of failure.” He also said, “The pressure not to fail grew as I became more successful.”
As Vijeta concluded in his original coverage of the story:
The mainstream media is now busy portraying Relotius as a ‘lone wolf’ and mentally disturbed. “I am sick and I need to get help,” media reports quoted him saying. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is that he gave his media bosses and liberal readers exactly what they were clamoring for. The accolades and awards showered on him for these fabrications are a testament to the mainstream media’s desperate urge to see its deep-seated prejudices validated.
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