In the debate about his controversial comparison of the GDR and his criticism of German journalists, Axel Springer boss Mathias Döpfner gives in, according to a report. The industry service “Medieninsider” reported on Friday that Döpfner had admitted in a video address in front of the workforce of the “Bild” newspaper that half a year ago, “Bild” boss Julian Reichelt had to be separated from him. “I also regret that in connection with this case a private conversation of mine via SMS is described as uncritical by a large number of German journalists – keyword propaganda assistants – or even compared the Federal Republic with the GDR,” Döpfner is quoted as saying. “That was of course pure, sharpest irony.” Springer confirmed that Döpfner’s new statements were authentic.
Döpfner’s SMS to the writer Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre in March had recently become known and had caused a sensation not only in the media world. With a view to Reichelt’s critical comment on Corona restrictions, Döpfner had written that the “Bild” editor-in-chief at the time was “the last and only journalist in Germany” who was still brave “against the new GDR government”. “Almost everyone else has become propaganda assistants.” Most recently, Springer-Verlag had put into perspective that Döpfner had deliberately exaggerated himself in a private dialogue. Döpfner himself only emphasized in a video to the workforce on Wednesday that a private and polemical SMS should not be equated with a public statement. However, Döpfner had not signaled any regrets.
Döpfner is particularly criticized for his statement because he has been President of the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and thus chief lobbyist of the media since 2016. Several representatives of small and large publishers described Döpfner’s words as inappropriate or unacceptable. Occasionally there were calls for resignation. The BDZV declined to comment and recently stated that the 58-year-old media manager had made private statements as the Springer boss.
Springer-Verlag released Reichelt from his duties on Monday with immediate effect. Even after an internal investigation into allegations of abuse of power in the spring of 2021, Reichelt is said not to have clearly separated private and professional matters and to have had a relationship with a “Bild” journalist. “He lied to us and we let ourselves be deceived,” said Döpfner, according to “Medieninsider.” (Apa / reuters)