The Claas Relotius Affair DER SPIEGEL's Reaction to U.S. Ambassador's Criticism

In the affair surrounding Claas Relotius, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has accused DER SPIEGEL of anti-Americanism. Our response to the diplomat's letter to our future editor-in-chief.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell has criticized DER SPIEGEL in the affair surrounding Claas Relotius, writing, "we are concerned that these narratives are pushed by Spiegel's senior leadership and reporters are responding to what the leadership wants." He has accused DER SPIEGEL of institutional anti-American bias and claims that reporters and editors have "routinely included information and stories which could have been proven untrue if they had checked the facts with the Embassy first." Unfortunately, he added, "it is routine practice for Spiegel reporters to not even call us before writing."

We have reviewed the ambassador's letter to future Editor-in-Chief Steffen Klusmann and are providing the magazine's response.

Dear Honorable Ambassador,

Thank you for your letter. I am writing to address your allegations because they relate to a period in which Steffen Klusmann was not editor-in-chief of DER SPIEGEL. He will assume that role on Jan. 1, 2019. I have served as deputy editor-in-chief over the past four years and am answering in the name of the executive editorial team that will be stepping down on Dec. 31.

It is true that one of our reporters in large part fabricated articles, including reports from the United States. We apologize to all American citizens who were insulted or denigrated by these articles. We are very sorry. This never should have happened.

In this case, our safeguarding and verification processes failed. We are working hard to clarify these issues and improve our procedures and standards.

I would, however, like to counter you on one point. When we criticize the American president, this does not amount to anti-American bias -- it is criticism of the policies of the man currently in office in the White House. Anti-Americanism is deeply alien to me and I am absolutely aware of what Germany has the U.S to thank for: a whole lot. DER SPIEGEL harbors no institutional bias against the United States.

You are also suggesting there are other instances in which there has been incorrect reporting about your country. Please inform us of these cases and we will review them promptly.

Sincerely yours,

Dirk Kurbjuweit, deputy editor-in-chief, DER SPIEGEL