Why this story matters:
Stories of Russian interference to destabilize other countries' politics are abundant these days, and it becomes tempting to see a Russian hand pulling the strings of every single political transaction.
However, journalists ought to resist giving in to this particular temptation before performing all the necessary research; Bild was already suspected of shoddy reporting, and their blunder will make it even harder for them to improve their reputation.
Furthermore, such poor fact-checking practices give ammunition to political factions who deny the existence of Russian interference in Western politics. For example, the pro-Kremlin Russia Today extensively decried Bild's incompetence and gullibility, and we find ourselves forced to agree with them, for once...
Details from the story:
- The staff of Titanic -- a satirical magazine -- created a series of emails between the head of a youth branch of the Social Democratic Party, Kevin Künhert, and a fictional Russian, Juri, who was offering to assist him in undermining the coalition.
- Titanic said the hoax was deliberately shoddy -- for example, they used an outdated email domain.
- Bild has already been caught spreading lies, although this particular care is going to be investigated by the German press council.
- The Social Democrats are considering filing a complaint.