Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s largest newspaper, recently stated in an interview that he is dying of a medical condition, and that he is overwhelmed with regret for his past journalistic conduct. He claims that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. He asserted that he was ordered to place stories in his paper to drive nations towards war, and that corruption of journalists and major news organizations by the CIA is routine and widespread in Western media. He also claims that journalists who do not comply either cannot get jobs at any news organization or find their careers cut short.
Dr. Ulfkotte’s allegations come at a time of extreme political tension, with numerous conflicts currently raging throughout the world, and he is not the first insider to publicly criticize mainstream media’s accuracy and independence. In his book, “Bought Journalists” (Kopp 2014) and in a recent interview with the Russian newspaper Russian Insider, Dr. Ulfkotte explained how he was ordered to plant stories in his paper, including a story that Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi was building poison gas factories in 2011. He further claimed that he was an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas against Iranians in the war between Iran and Iraq, but that the editors he worked for at the time were not interested because Iraq was a US ally at the time.
It is noteworthy that Ulfkotte’s allegations have not been corroborated by a third party. However, Ulfkotte’s comments have reignited the debate over the impartiality and accuracy of mainstream media, particularly as we live in a time where information is widely available through various online sources. Ulfkotte’s statements could lead one to wonder whether any aspect of media can be trusted, or whether reporters are subject to manipulation by intelligence agencies to promote certain political objectives.
Furthermore, Ulfkotte explains that he was better positioned to come forward than many journalists because he does not have children who could be threatened. He stated that he was ashamed of his past, that he had been taught to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public, and that he was filled with remorse for the part he played. Ulfkotte revealed that he ended up publishing articles under his own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service. He explained the pattern of cajolery and outright bribery used by the CIA and other US-allied intelligence agencies, for the purpose of advancing political agendas.
Ulfkotte noted that journalists on international press trips paid for by organizations close to the government are unlikely to submit a storyline not favorable to the sponsor. In the interview, he disclosed that he was asked to hand over the photos he had taken of the gassing of Iranians to the German association of chemical companies in Frankfurt, Verband der Chemischen Industrie. He claimed that this poison gas that killed many Iranians was made in Germany.
Ulfkotte’s accusations suggest that some journalists may be manipulating their audience, and that news is not always as objective as the media claims. It also suggests that journalists could be acting as government tools to propagate a particular agenda. Ulfkotte’s statements, if true, are a direct violation of journalistic ethics, and could have severe consequences for the credibility of media outlets.
In his interview with Russia Today, Ulfkotte stated that his fear was that politicians were actively driving the world towards war. He also expressed concern over the current state of the media, calling it a “banana republic” and not a democratic country where press freedom exists. He said that he did not want to be a part of this propaganda anymore.
These allegations have reignited debates on the role of the media in shaping public opinion, and have once again raised questions about the extent to which the media has been compromised by intelligence agencies. In recent years, the mainstream media has faced widespread criticism for its failure to accurately report on issues of national importance, including the Iraq War and the ongoing conflict in Syria.