The Der Spiegel mess should feel familiar. It’s happened before.Talented young media thing decides to make up plausible stories demonizing conservatives because who’s going to know any better?
On Friday night, forty of the young conservatives ditch Lott’s speech and pack a sweaty hotel room on the second floor. On the door someone has taped a sign that reads: “The lost ones–in here.” Again, the bathtub is filled with beer, and a thick cloud of marijuana smoke hangs above the crowd. A red- headed guy whose name tag only says “Greg” tries unsuccessfully to program the pay-per-view to show an X-rated movie. Almost everyone in the room says they supported Phil Gramm or Pat Buchanan in last year’s election. “Look around, you’ll see we’re wandering,” says Chuck Reingold, a College Republican from California. “I didn’t even sign up for the conference this year. What’s there to learn? You see that? That’s why I come now.” Reingold points to the bed. A short, busty woman is standing on the foot of the bed to kiss a very tall man. One hand is wrapped around his torso, the other is holding a cigarette with an ever-extending and fragile ash. When the two come up for air, the woman tucks her cigarette-free hand into the man’s front pocket. She is, it turns out, a 22-year-old Marylander, and a big fan of the Republicans’ chief moralizer, Bill Bennett. “He has some good morals to impart, and I really like his book,” she says. “Is that an okay answer? I’m not really sure what else to say.” As the night drags on, two people begin snorting what looks like cocaine in the bathroom
That was Stephen Glass at the New Republic pretending to write about CPAC. And he got away with it.
It was only when he wrote a ridiculous tech industry piece that he got taken down.
So the current Der Spiegel takedown shouldn’t be too surprising. Like Glass, Claas Relotius, who worked for Der Spiegel, made up stuff about conservatives. His work made for entertaining reading while servicing the prejudices of his editors and his audience.
It was also made up.
“After three and a half hours, the bus bends from the highway to a narrow, sloping street, rolling towards a dark forest that looks like dragons live in it. At the entrance, just before the station, there is a sign with the American stars and stripes banner, which reads: “Welcome to Fergus Falls, home of damn good folks.”
Claas Relotius succeeded because, like Glass, he tapped into the prejudices of the establishment. He’s playing on those prejudices from the very beginning. There’s the dark forest representing your subconscious belief that conservatives are scary monsters.
Here there be dragons.
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