Springer boss Mathias Döpfner: "You are always smarter afterwards"
Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka / Getty Images
In a video message to the employees of the media company Axel Springer, CEO Mathias Döpfner commented on the dismissal of Julian Reichelt as "Bild" editor-in-chief.
In it, the Springer boss and long-time sponsor of Reichelt defends his personal approach and that of the top management in the, so Döpfner literally, "Julian Reichelt compliance case".
Reichelt was released from his duties on Monday with immediate effect because, even after an internal investigation in spring 2021, he was alleged to have had a relationship with a "Bild" employee on allegations of abuse of power and lied to the board about it.
The New York Times and SPIEGEL published research on the Reichelt cause on Sunday and Monday;
Parts of the research by the "Ippen Investigative" team were also included in the SPIEGEL report.
Döpfner now comments on details in the video to the workforce.
At the very beginning there were four cases of alleged relationships between Reichelt and "Bild" employees who are said to have received professional advantages as a result.
"In the background there were men who clearly organized the procedure," says Döpfner in the video about the allegations at the time. "They were all former employees of Bild, and the motives were very clear: It was about getting Reichelt away, and a very threatening, sometimes almost blackmailing tone was used." Therefore, the law firm Freshfields was turned on to investigate the allegations.
The result was "ambiguous", according to Döpfner, and at least one case could be proven. The executive board and supervisory board of the group had come to the conclusion: "A serious mistake, not an unforgivable mistake that had to have consequences." Reichelt himself was allowed to return to the top of »Bild« after a break of almost two weeks.
The allegations against Döpfner and the top management include, among other things, having known in detail about Reichelt's activities for a long time.
Döpfner now denies that.
The Freshfields minutes cited by the New York Times are "minutes that we have not yet seen, that we have never seen, that we were not allowed to see because that was not allowed for privacy reasons."
It was only two days ago that the top management received two credible testimonies that Reichelt had a relationship with a "Bild" employee.
Shouldn't we have acted faster, already in the spring?
"You are always smarter afterwards," the Springer boss defends himself in the video;
in the rule of law, the presumption of innocence must apply.
Döpfner denies further allegations in the video.
For example, that Springer influenced other publishers to prevent reporting.
"That is untrue, it never happened at any time," says Döpfner.
In fact, the investigative team at Ippen-Verlag had researched the allegations against Reichelt in the past few months;
a publication last weekend was prevented by publisher Dirk Ippen.
Parts of the research then appeared in the SPIEGEL report.
Marcus Engert, a member of the Ippen Investigative Team that used to work for BuzzFeed, affirmed on Twitter that there had been an attempt to exert influence: If it wasn't Axel Springer, the publisher should possibly investigate the question who intervened on his behalf.
Springer boss Döpfner, who is also President of the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and thus the chief lobbyist of the media in political Berlin, had also come under fire in recent days because he opposed the compliance investigation at the beginning of the year In a private message, Reichelt was of the opinion that Reichelt was “really the last and only journalist in Germany who still bravely rebelled against the new GDR government. Almost everyone else has become propaganda assistants «.
In the current video to the workforce, Döpfner justifies this statement by saying that it was taken out of context.
In a private conversation there could be "polemics, irony, exaggeration."
"At least for me, I say and write some exaggerated and nonsensical things in a private conversation," said Döpfner.
But it is important to him that this is not treated like an official quote.
The CEO also says a few words about the corporate culture at Springer.
There is not a cultural problem in the whole Springer house, according to Döpfner, but: »There is this problem with› Bild ‹.« We therefore have to work »much faster, much more fundamentally« on changing this culture.
"We have to be a role model when it comes to a modern, respectful, diverse corporate culture."