‘Relotius gives the inhabitants of Fergus Falls false biographies that fit him as if he were a puppeteer…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) A German journalist who traveled to Fergus Falls, Minn., to write about residents’ reactions to President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory admitted that he made up key details in his story—including being greeted by a sign that read, “Mexicans Keep Out.”
Claas Relotius, who was named CNN’s “Journalist of the Year” in 2014, falsified stories “on a grand scale,” according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.
On Wednesday, it announced that Relotius had confessed to fabricating at least 14 articles out of the nearly 60 he wrote since 2011.
The anti-immigrant sign Relotius talks about was “only in the imagination of the author,” Der Speigel wrote. “Relotius gives the inhabitants of Fergus Falls false biographies that fit him as if he were a puppeteer.”
But this wasn’t surprising to many of the Minnesotans he had claimed to interview, according to the Star Tribune.
“It’s a small town; a lot of us would have known about it,” resident Michele Anderson said of the sign.
Relotuius traveled to Fergus Falls hoping to find residents that fit his anti-Trump narrative. Der Spiegel said that when he couldn’t find any substance to back up his claims, he created his own info instead of finding a new angle.
“There’s so little in the story that’s factual,” said City Administrator Andrew Bremseth, who was featured extensively in the article and said he contacted Relotius about inaccuracies after the story was published but didn’t get a response. “There were people he totally created.”
Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer said the city is trying to move on but is glad the truth has finally come out.
“We take pride in our community; to portray us as being unwelcoming or racist … that’s just infuriating,” Schierer said. “It went from being bizarre … to this is incredibly offensive.”
CNN hasn’t responded to the revelation, but an insider told The Wrap that Relotius “never worked for CNN. He was honored for a piece published by a Swiss magazine—more than four years ago.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, in his long-running battle with the left-leaning network, has often challenged its credibility and referred to it as “fake news.”