Relotius in Wikihausen

A comment by Mathias Bröckers.

Since Markus Fiedlers and Dirk Pohlmann’s series „Geschichten aus Wikihausen“, is has become common knowledge that the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is once again calling for donations, is not a balanced encyclopedia in terms of politics, but massively manipulated. Even the „Süddeutsche Zeitung“ recently had to take a close look at the dark side of Wikipedia, the corrupt system of viewers and administrators, and at the same time – entirely in the style of Wikipedia – to speak badly of the research of Fiedler and Pohlmann as „obscure“ and „not objective“. And not to mention that this research already revealed four years ago using the example of the Wikpedia entry on the historian Daniele Ganser and his work on the Nato secret army „Gladio“ and on 9/11, how Ganser was deliberately defamed there as a „conspiracy theorist“ and did not succeed in correcting this. The fact that when Wikipedia deals with Nato, Israel or 9/11, the same authors are always at work with manipulations and defamations is also not mentioned in the „Süddeutsche“ – and to speak with Fiedler and Pohlmann, who uncovered the clear names of these manipulators operating under the pseudonyms „copilot“ and „Feliks“, was apparently not possible for the Munich quality journalists – and so they only copied from the Wikihausen stories what suited their transatlantic agenda.

So far, so typically one could say and another example for the decline of the so-called quality press on the one hand and on the other hand also for the failure of the online encyclopedia, which relies on democratic swarm intelligence. Last Friday, the Swiss „Tagesanzeiger“ uncovered another case that the trade magazine „Meedia“ describes as „one of the biggest manipulation operations“ at Wikipedia. In view of the above-mentioned years of mass defamation by Nato apologists and furious philosemites, this may be considered slightly exaggerated, but it is undoubtedly spectacular, because it concerns the master forger of the former news magazine „Spiegel“ Claas Relotius and the Wikipedia entry about him and his case, which was manipulated and beautified in a concerted action. The research of the „Tagesanzeiger“ revealed that a group of users had systematically deleted, embellished and rotated the entry about Relotius under pseudonyms such as „PreRap“, „Snapperl“ or „Klußmann“.

The Tagesanzeiger writes, „They are bold and clever. The manipulator group, which should not be perceived as a group, is gradually whitewashing passages about Relotius‘ forgeries. (…)“ The tenor: The whole industry is forging, Relotius is simply the most brilliant of many writers in journalism. No comparison is too small for the manipulators to include it in the online dictionary. Thus Relotius is played down as „Karl May of our days“.

And put in a row with great writers like Tom Wolfe or Truman Capote. Just as Relotius was known for inventing the most incredible protagonists for his stories, the protagonists of these forgeries also seem so spectacular that the suspicion must arise that Relotius himself had now also forged his Wikipedia entry. Since one of the IP addresses of the meanwhile blocked manipulators, which happened to be known, is located in the vicinity of the municipality Seevetal, where the place Tötensen is located, where Claas Relotius comes from, this is probably more than just an unfounded conspiracy theory. And it is quite understandable that the fallen reporter angel thinks he is a genius writer of the caliber Karl May, who simply made a mistake in the genre and ended up in journalism instead of adventure literature. Such mistakes can perhaps undermine young people, but more interesting is the question of how a former news magazine developed into a landing place where young would-be writers could take off as award-winning journalists. This development is not new, because already 17 years ago Spiegel published a gigantic fake reportage as a book with the title „9/11 – Was wirklich geschah“ – a story of „real“ events edited in the style of a dozen authors. After one of the co-authors, the editor Ulrich Fichtner, had compared my book (engendered by my WTC-Conspiracy-Serie on Telepolis) „Verschwörungen, Verschwörungstheorien und die Geheimnisse des 11.9.“ („Conspiracies, conspiracy theories and the secrets of 9/11“) in the „Spiegel“ as a „September lie“ from the left with the „Auschwitz lie“ from the right, Walter van Rossum invited us to a discussion at the WDR radio station.

When I read Relotius‘ self-critical account of the counterfeit series in „Der Spiegel“ – written by his superior Ulrich Fichtner – I remembered this debate. And I found the reading of the transcript of the programme extremely revealing. For it is precisely this fake reportage style that Fichtner is presented with here in 9/11: the real-life suggestion, acting as if one were looking over the shoulder of „terrorists“ in preparing the attack, the whole scenic dramaturgy with atmospheric sprinkles and the „We were there and know the truth“ gesture, which then does not shy away from selling these prose melange under the title „9/11 – Was wirklich geschah“ as document, as news, as journalism. So what the creative author Roletius was accused of is exactly what his superiors and foster fathers like Ulrich Fichtner did after September 11, 2001 – with the only difference that they didn’t come up with Osama and the 19 Hijackers as the sole perpetrators themselves, but took them from the White House unquestioningly and knitted a great story out of them. It didn’t matter that the true facts were completely unclear and decisive questions open – if the narrative is right, the facts are secondary and the crap gets on the front page!

This, the young author Relotius a little exonerating context, could certainly find mention in his Wikipedia entry, after all, the original newcomer has only done what the alpha animals had done in the department leadership. But since it’s about „9/11“ and „conspiracy theory“, there’s no way around censors like „kopliot“ or „Feliks“. After all, we are not here in a free encyclopedia, but in Wikihausen…

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Mathias Bröckers most recently wrote „Newtons Gespenst und Goethes Polaroid – Über die Natur“. On 2 July his book „Don’t Kill The Messenger – Freiheit für Julian Assange“ was published by Westendverlag. He blogs on broeckers.com

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Thanks to the author for the right to publish.

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Picture hint: nitpicker / Shutterstock

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