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Bild and Spiegel

BILD-Zeitung and der Spiegel are two influential and problematic media. If these two media are now engaged in a public cockfight – what is that? Good news, because it is proof that the big media, contrary to observation, criticize each other and thus control each other? Or is the current process just an entertaining simulation of such a control, by which much larger grievances and also overlaps in content are concealed – similar to the public crocodile tears of the “mirror” on the occasion of the Relotius forgeries?

“With the masterfully formulated disclosure of the forgeries of Claas Relotius, all the similar cases of the failure of the mirror are at the same time concealed, although the other cases of manipulation have much more serious consequences than the forgeries of the editor just caught.”

Two dominant crows in the Clinch

The background to the public conflict between BILD and Spiegel is summarised in this article: According to this article, Der Spiegel has described a “system Reichelt” under the title “Fögeln, fördern, feuern”: this consisted of alleged affairs and abuse of power and unfolded under the BILD boss Julian Reichelt. Reichelt rejects the accusations, but is now temporarily on leave. first, Alexandra Würzbach, editor-in-chief of Bild am Sonntag, takes over as editor-in-chief of BILD am Sonntag. The accusations against Reichelt are not to be evaluated in more detail until they are made concrete.

Reichelt now intends to take action against the Spiegel report under press law, as reported by the [NZZ](https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/bild-chef-reichelt-geht-juristisch-gegen-den-spiegel-vor-ld.1606534 “Nach massiven Vorwürfen: “Bild”-Chefredaktor Reichelt geht presserechtlich gegen den “Spiegel” vor und lässt sich befristet beurlauben”). Before reporting, Der Spiegel should not have confronted Reichelt with the allegations it reported. The”Spiegel " report therefore constitutes an inadmissible form of suspicious reporting. The media magazine “Kress” quotes a statement by Reichelt:

“I will defend myself against those who want to destroy me, because they do not like IMAGE and everything we stand for. Who write about me without listening to me first, because my answers have never suited them.”

Der Spiegel says: “Of course we confronted Mr. Reichelt with the allegations against him about his employer and received an opinion,” says the NZZ.

If the IMAGE demands journalistic care

It would now be easy to fall over Reichelt with great bemusement and to recall all the examples of alleged suspicious reporting by the BILD newspaper. The hypocrisy that the BILD of all people now demands journalistic care is so obvious that this aspect does not need to be deepened here. As an illustration, only a current communication of the Springer Group on the internal handling of the Reichelt case should be referred to here, which actually had to be answered with public derision:

“Axel Springer has always and very fundamentally to distinguish between rumors, clues and evidence. (…) To pre-judge on the basis of rumours is unthinkable in Axel Springer’s corporate culture.”

The IMAGE as a " medieval royal court”

On the one hand, the conditions in the BILD editorial offices described in the Spiegel article would be scandalous if the reports were correct. On the other hand, these descriptions sound about the way I always imagined everyday life at BILD. New employees could not have been completely surprised by this. Of course, the alleged untenable conditions should not be defended!

For example, the Spiegel article describes that volunteers and interns were invited to dinner by the editor-in-chief via Instagram. Young employees were sometimes promoted quickly. Their crash would have been similar at times. Internally, the system has also been described with the words “bird, promote, fire”. What tabloid employees said about Reichelt is reminiscent of a”medieval royal court”. Those who stand up in the favor of the “ruler” are praised and sometimes promoted very quickly, “concubines included”. But he who sinks in reputation, he or she will be “banished, cut, tortured or exposed”.

German media landscape: The Simulation of control

On the theory of the simulation of a mutual control of large media, which was expressed at the beginning: Der Spiegel can now simulate that it does not bend in front of powerful colleagues such as Julian Reichelt. And the IMAGE now simulates with the insistence on media seriousness vis-à-vis the mirror that it, too, would recognize these journalistic rules in principle. Both together simulate a mutual control and achieve thereby presumably large advertising revenue by the click numbers. So do we just experience how one crow takes another crow to the leather? Or does this “conflict"not much more hide a larger (and opposite) problem: that of the destructive content unity of many large media?

This coherence of content is a central problem of the German media landscape. Due to the great unity of the large German media in numerous political fields, there remains no influential authority that could exert at least moral pressure against this through public criticism of media campaigns. The conflict between the mirror and the IMAGE should not, therefore, hide the far-reaching agreement in principle between the two media when it comes, for example, to whitewashing US wars, defending a liberal economic order or demonising Russia. What is also interesting about the current process is that personal misconduct is criticized here – political campaigns by large media, on the other hand, are far too often untroubled.

In these political media campaigns, there are also no major admissions or even excuses from responsible editors, as can be seen, for example, in Syria: The same newspapers that helped to prepare and accompany the war against the Syrian government for ten years are now complaining about the consequences of this war, and there is no one left who could establish a connection here or sue for the responsibilities of the editors for these very consequences of the war. Only the alternative media take on this task, which is why they are also defamed and censored in order to get rid of this annoying counterpoint, because of which one sometimes has to justify oneself morally.

Slanderers must also be protected from slander

Der Spiegel has recently broken its staff over another editorial: In the case of RT DE. Everything has been said about the shocking political, moral and ethical condition of the BILD newspaper. Now, however, one should also oppose when Der Spiegel plays up to the conscience of the German media landscape. Especially since the previously unsubstantiated accusation is in the room, the “mirror” in the current case Reichelt did not work seriously.

This leads to the question: Do you have to be less serious about accusations against the BILD boss Reichelt, because the Bild is the BILD and its employees have forfeited their rights? No! On the one hand, every person enjoys the protection from slander, even if he or she should have previously made himself or herself guilty of slander. In addition, seriousness and morality are the only means that can be brought into the field against the otherwise house-high superior Springer agitation, these tools should not be damaged.