THE PLANK JULY 22, 2008
German magazine Der Spiegel caused quite a commotion this
week by printing an interview
with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in which he endorsed Obama's Iraq plan by
name. Some tried to downplay
the significance of this endorsement by saying that Maliki had been misquoted
by the magazine. But it turns out that Maliki actually got a copy
of the interview before it was printed and had the option to make any changes. A
writer at Der Spiegel sent us this tidbit of info:
The reason the magazine scores so
many high level interviews is that the editors agree to allow the subjects to
"authorize" the interviews before they go to press. It wasn't just a
slip of the tongue, in other words: Maliki not only endorsed Obama's plans for
withdrawing from Iraq,
but his office then explicitly approved the endorsement before it was printed.
The denials, then, were doubly facetious. Spiegel couldn't say so, though,
without revealing its embarrassing authorization policy.
Der Spiegel has gotten flak in the
past for this policy. According to Ingrid
Kolb, director of the Henri Nannen School
for Journalism in Hamburg:
The long interviews that Der
Spiegel publishes with famous public figures, their so-called talks, are
known for this ... They can go back and forth a dozen times, with each side
bringing their argument a bit more to the point, refining it, improving it. In
a best-case scenario, it serves the interests of both sides.
So much for Maliki's message being lost in translation.