Yesterday Deutschlandfunk — Germany’s nationwide public-radio service, published an opinion piece (g) by Matthias Dell called “The Murderer and the Media”. In it, Dell discusses the “Söring System” podcast (shortly to be released in English) and takes the German media to task for having explicitly taken Söring’s side for 15 years.

Here are a few excerpts, in my translation:

This story has been haunting the German media for 15 years, starting with an article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in 2007. And since then, it has somehow generally been assumed that Söring’s conviction as a double murderer, which has been repeatedly reviewed by courts and agencies, is somehow unjust.

Podcast “The Söring System” counters with facts

Now a podcast called “Das System Söring” has just sorted out the whole story, countered the whispers about Söring’s claimed innocence with facts, and even spoke to an insider. This was a woman from the Jens Söring’s so-called “circle of friends”. She lobbied for him while he was still in prison, mainly by assembling selective presentations containing supposed proof of Söring’s innocence. These were then sent to the media in concise packages…

German journalism blind to its own prejudices

Anyone who has listened to the podcast comes away with one message above all: the bitter realization that almost all German media have so far conveyed Söring’s version of history solely from his perspective. The reasons for this are complex – and they show some weaknesses German journalism: namely, that too many German journalists are unaware of their own prejudices.

The media were mesmerized by the eloquence of Söring the “diplomat’s son.”. He got scholarships because he is so smart, he quotes Charles Dickens and Shakespeare – how can he be a criminal?

Misogyny and racism

In addition, misogyny plays a role: Söring was also able to make Elizabeth Haysom the actual perpetrator in his version because there are stereotypes like the femme fatale or the witch that everyone somehow knows. Women who bring misfortune to poor innocent men….

What also makes the convicted double murderer’s story catchy is hostility towards the U.S. justice system. Of course, there are many problems with the system — but that hardly entails that Jens Söring did not receive a fair trial under the rule of law.

How will the story be told in the future?

It is exciting to contemplate how Jens Söring’s story will be portrayed in the German media from now on. Will the people who fell for Söring’s narrative have the courage to admit it?

And how will the story be told in the future? Netflix has announced two series about the case, because true-crime stories are so popular. However, a satire based on how the case has been portrayed in the German media up to now would be much funnier.

“Will the people who fell for Söring’s narrative have the courage to admit it?” I’ve been asking this question for years now, and the answer, unfortunately, has been a resounding “no”. Perhaps that will change as more people in the German media realize how much ongoing damage their uncritical coverage of Söring’s case has done to their reputations. But I’m not holding my breath.

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