“Wrong and Irresponsible” – The Fake Interview in Der Spiegel

If you remember, a few weeks ago, the German news magazine Der Spiegel published a major review and analysis of the intimidation, harassment and abuse that T-Mobile USA workers have to deal with on a regular basis (Read the article in English here.

Obviously this was a huge embarrassment for T-Mobile USA and its parent company Deutsche Telekom. It appears that the company felt compelled to respond to the serious allegations made in the article and explain its position. Instead of making a statement for the press or talking to a reporter, however, the company decided to take a different route.

Shortly after the article was published, an apparent Spiegel interview with Marion Schick, Deutsche Telekom’s Director of Human Resources, appeared on the company’s intranet. In this interview, Dr. Schick explains the company’s position and calls the campaign for workers’ rights at T-Mobile “wrong and irresponsible”. On close inspection, it is striking how one-sided the interview questions were – especially for a serious magazine like Der Spiegel. When this "interview" came to Der Spiegel’s attention, the editors investigated who among their reporters had made such a poor interview, but no one at the magazine took responsibility.

It turns out that Deutsche Telekom faked the interview! Company execs seemed to be afraid of independent journalism and wanted their own spin of the story.

Click here for an article in German about the incident. Der Spiegel reporter Dohmen writes: “A quick call to Deutsche Telekom brought clarity. “An unfortunate mistake,” the company explained, “the error will be corrected immediately.”

Unfortunate? Perhaps a better response would have been: "We lied ... and got caught."