The editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest newspaper, Bild, has been fired after new allegations were made about inappropriate relationships with women. The occasion is an article by Ippen Investigativ about Julian Reichelt, which reporters had been working on for months. The New York Times reported today that that publication was initially personally blocked by their publisher, Dirk Ippen.
But the allegations are now grounds for Reichelt’s bosses, who has been under fire for his association with women for some time, to kick him out. Bild’s three-person editor-in-chief is getting a new CEO.
Reichelt was regularly discredited, partly because of an affair with a younger colleague in a subordinate position. He himself then denied having abused his power and an outside law firm investigating the allegations did not find enough evidence. After being briefly inactive, Reichelt returned to his post after that affair.
The New York Times already wrote last weekend that the chief executive of Axel Springer, the company behind Bild, kept his editor-in-chief a handful. He is said to have texted a friend that they should exercise restraint in the investigation into the allegations, calling Reichelt “truly the last and only journalist in Germany to bravely rebel against the new authoritarian GDR state”. The disgraced journalist regularly wrote critically about German corona policy.
The outside lawyers who investigated Reichelt’s dealings came across an affair that the then 36-year-old editor-in-chief had with a 25-year-old woman, writes The New York Times.
“If they find out I’m having an affair with an intern, I’ll lose my job,” he is said to have said. Still, he wouldn’t have broken off the relationship. He is said to have given the woman a higher position and regularly summoned her to a hotel room in the hotel next door to the editorial office.
“That’s how it always goes at Bild,” the woman is said to have said. “Those who sleep with the boss get a better job.” She said she was told by a male colleague that he was tired of having to take care of the women with whom Reichelt had relationships.
Conflict of interest
The weekly Der Spiegel also wrote an article about Reichelt’s performance this year, under the headline “Vögeln, fördern, feuern”. In other words: Fucking, promoting, firing, as Bild employees would characterize the way their boss works.
The editor-in-chief is said to have invited young female interns and volunteers to dinners via Instagram. They were sometimes promoted quickly, but could quickly fall out of favor again.
Der Spiegel further wrote that Reichelt was guilty of a conflict of interest in 2018: he would have had an affair with an employee of a PR agency. The German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which was about to publish about it, was prevented from doing so, according to The New York Times, by a phone call from Reichelt himself.
Independence of the press
In the meantime, commotion has arisen in Germany about the initial prevention of publication of the article by Ippen’s investigative journalists. In a letter of protest to their bosses, they wrote that there are no legal or journalistic reasons that justify why the piece was not allowed to be published. The German journalists’ union is concerned about the independence of the press.