The following post doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas.
Well, wait. I can imagine that there are conservative critics of the mainstream press — especially in its most elite forms — who would see the following headline as a kind of Christmas present. And later on in this post, there will be a religion-and-politics angle to this scandal. So hold that thought.
But let’s start with the end of tale, care of this NBC News headline: “German reporter stripped of CNN 'Journalist of the Year' awards for fabricating stories.”
Hey fans of great journalism movies: We are talking about a kind of sequel to “Shattered Glass,” only with a reporter who was working for an elite news publication — Der Spiegel — as opposed to a liberal journal of editorial opinion, commentary and news. Here’s the top of that Associated Press, as featured by NBC News:
BERLIN — A German journalist who was found to have fabricated numerous articles is being stripped of two awards he received in 2014 from CNN International, the broadcaster said Thursday.
In a statement to The Associated Press, CNN International said the independent panel of judges who awarded Claas Relotius the Journalist of the Year and Print Journalist of the Year awards four years ago decided unanimously to remove them following revelations about his fraud.
German magazine Der Spiegel, where Relotius worked as a freelancer and later full-time, said Wednesday that he had fabricated interviews and facts in at least 14 articles.
The publication, one of Germany's leading news outlets, said the 33-year-old had committed journalistic fraud "on a grand scale" over a number of years, including fabricating elements of an article about an American woman who he said volunteered to witness the executions of death row inmates.
Now it’s time for the flashback to a feature at Medium that got lots and lots of attention — in America and, perhaps, in Germany. The headline: “Der Spiegel journalist messed with the wrong small town.”
The key is that one of the most celebrated newsrooms in Europe decided to probe the dark heart of Middle America in the age of Donald Trump. You know: How do solid, faithful, ordinary Americans in the heartland make peace with their support for a demon? That sort of thing.