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The cat’s away and Der Spiegel will play

Tuesday, 8 January, 2013

When it comes to mendacity in media, no one does it better than the German weekly, Der Spiegel. The popular magazine is a case-study in agitprop but it outdid itself as 2012 ended with the publication of an premature online obituary for the 41st President of the United States, George HW Bush. The author was none other than the publication’s rabidly anti-America correspondent Marc Pitzke. Naturally, Der Spiegel has deleted the obituary, but the web never forgets. In his bitter, biased fabrication, Pitzke wrote of the “almost elegiac” early obituaries that that appeared following the “death” of President Bush. Thus, is journalism debased.

But there was more to come.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center topped the Pitzkean own goal with the announcement that it had elevated Der Spiegel‘s online columnist Jakob Augstein to the list of the world’s top 10 anti-Semites. Augstein is the son of Der Spiegel founder Rudolf Augstein and one of his rusty, trusty reliables is blaming Israel and the US for all evils, especially the violence in the Middle East. It’s a tired meme, but it never fails to garner applause in Germany. Frightening, but unsurprising.

Der Spiegel While such an accolade may please a core of radical readers and writers, it’s of little avail to the bottom line. According to the Meedia portal, Der Spiegel circulation is starting to resemble a death spiral. The magazine that boasted of million-plus weekly sales watched with horror as its recent “Sex, Lies and the CIA” title sold just 262,659 copies at the newsstand. True, the cover was particularly shabby, but bad taste and propaganda paid well in the past for Der Spiegel so the editors must have assumed that it would work again. Not so, however.

As it loses influence and money, Der Spiegel can be expected to become even more poisonous in its struggle for survival, but with the help of the fabulist Marc Pitzke and the virulent Jakob Augstein it’s well on the way to the dustbin of history.

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