German Reporter Admits Fabricating Story About Rural MN Town's Faith, Trump Support
Mayor of Fergus Falls reacts on 'F&F.'
The mayor of a Minnesota town spoke out Friday on "Fox & Friends" after it was revealed that an award-winning German reporter fabricated a story about the locals' faith and support for President Trump.
Writer and editor Claas Relotius resigned from German magazine Der Spiegel, telling his bosses "I am sick and I need to get help." Relotius admitted to fabricating stories, inventing sources and making up quotes for his pieces "on a grand scale."
One such report was completed after Relotius traveled to Fergus Falls, Minn., for a report which was titled, "Where they pray for Trump on Sundays." It turned out Relotius invented a coal plant employee, named Neil Becker, in the article and fabricated quotes from a restaurant worker to support his narrative about the people there.
Reacting Friday, Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer said he believes Relotius' idea of the rural community did not fit with reality, so he "decided to make it up."
"I think it was to support a narrative in his mind and many people's minds that rural communities are backwards. They are dying," he explained, recalling that when he met Relotius he could tell the reporter had "preconceived notions" about Fergus Falls.
"Of course ... I couldn't conceive that he would go and just make it up. I thought 'hey, here is a perfect opportunity to tell our story and to tell the story of many rural communities that are thriving.' That there’s so many positive things happening. But he didn't want to hear that," said Schierer.
Relotius previously worked for other publications in Europe and won awards such as CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014.