German far-right politician cuts short TV interview after Hitler comparison
17 Sep 2019, 00:18 ( 27 days ago)
Bjoern Hoecke, top politician of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, cut off an interview with the German public TV channel ZDF broadcast on Sunday evening local time after the language he used was compared to Nazi terminology.
At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer showed Hoecke short videos in which his fellow AfD politicians were asked to guess whether the quotes came from a book by Hoecke or from the infamous "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler.
Hoecke, a former history teacher, noted that he would "not believe that there is a generally valid definition" for the terminology used by the Nazis and stressed that his focus was on free speech.
Around 10 minutes into the interview, an AfD spokesperson from behind the scenes interfered. "You confronted Hoecke with questions that made him very emotional. These emotions should not be shown on TV like that."
The AfD spokesperson then asked for the interview to be started again. However, the ZDF journalist said after some discussion that they would definitely not do the interview again.
The ZDF journalist stressed that they would be entering "the sensitive area of freedom of the press" if he was "supposed to ask the questions so many times until you are satisfied with the answers".
Following the journalist's refusal, Hoecke, the AfD's top candidate in upcoming elections in the state of Thuringia, warned that the incident would have "massive consequences for the confidential cooperation between politician and journalist" and ended the interview.
Hoecke and his spokesperson had expected the interview to focus more on the campaign and the state elections in Thuringia in October. The clip of the interview and the discussion between the journalist, Hoecke and the AfD spokesperson was uploaded in full by ZDF.
"We have arrived at a stage where politician and journalist cannot talk openly to each other anymore because one has the feeling as a politician that the journalist is no longer neutral, but that somehow he is executing a political mission," Hoecke complained.