Susanna Ohlen RTL German reporter fired caught smearing mud on face faking helping clear up flooded town during news report. Issues apology on Instagram only to be condemned.
Define fake news? Define journalistic integrity? When a reporter falsely inserts herself as hero in a community’s misery …
A German TV reporter was fired after she was caught smearing herself in mud before filming a report in a flood devastated town this week.
Susanna Ohlen, 39, muddied herself to pretend she had assisted in the clean up effort in Bad Munstereifel following heavy flooding that claimed at least 128 lives in Germany.
RTL.de had published an article titled ‘Cleaning up after the flood: RTL presenter lends a hand in Bad Munstereifel’, which featured Ohlen (since yanked down).
And it nearly worked. Hero journalist inserting herself into a community’s misery.
— Eddie Graf (@Eddie_1412) July 22, 2021
At what cost a breaking news story?
Unknown to Ohlen, the journalist was filmed by an onlooker caking herself in mud prior to the cameras rolling. The video soon went viral. And that was the beginning of the end.
Said the German channel in a statement: ‘Our reporter’s approach clearly contradicts journalistic principles and our own standards. We therefore gave her a leave of absence on Monday after we heard about it.’
Clandestine footage show Ohlen in a blue shirt, hat, and boots, bent down, picking up some mud, and smearing it on her clothes (‘more more Ohlen, smear just a little bit more!’) while surrounded by flood damaged houses and debris.
Ohlen is seen bends down a second time, this time wiping the mud on her face (‘Perfect! Now we’re ready to go live! Action, smile, 3, 2, 1… blast off!’)
Ohlen had worked at RTL since 2008 and presented Good Evening RTL, Good Morning Germany, and Point 12, among other ‘venerable’ programs.
Which is to wonder what other parades the journalist or her employers pulled off over the years …?
Ohlen has since apologized on Instagram, in what she described as a ‘serious mistake.’
Apologizing for the cameras
Response to Ohlen’s mea culpa didn’t sit well with social media commentators who in the climate of ever ‘fake news’ and low tolerance of corporate media reporting was quickly dismissed.
“Does anyone seriously believe that?’ posted one commentator
‘If you were really sorry, you’d have apologized sooner,’ accused another. ‘You’re only doing it now because the recordings are there.’
The faux pas and Ohlen’s mea culpa non gratis comes after Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France were hit by days heavy rainfall and fooding last week that led to at least 196 lives lost and one reporter’s career ruined.