Print the Legend

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” So goes the line from the Jimmy Stewart-John Wayne tale, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Spread all over the interwebules this week was a hilarious account of how a slightly obsessed engineer revenged himself upon local porch-pirates by concocting a tempting fake delivered package and leaving it on his doorstep. Being technically quite adept, he booby-trapped the package with fine glitter, fart-spray and four telephones primed to record the resulting mayhem – which was as hilarious as the Daily Mail always promises, but rarely delivers. Honestly, I think the man could go into business, providing those dummy parcels for customers to outfit with their own cellphones, can-o-fart-spray and glitter with which to discombobulate parcel thieves. The Deity knoweth that local police departments usually don’t get serious about this kind of petty theft: where the law can’t or won’t get involved, there will inevitably be an opening for creative vigilantism.
The other leading story this week gives even more cause for cynical amusement.

That would be the downfall of Claas Relotius, a reporter for the German Der Spiegal newsmagazine, who arrived in Fergus Falls, Minnesota last year, for the purpose of spending three weeks in deepest Trumplandia among hick, stupid, fat Americans and filing one of those ‘conservatives-in-the-mist’ travelogues so beloved by national media organs with delusions of journalistic adequacy. Alas, it would seem that Herr Relotius might just as well have spent his three weeks in his cosy flat, surfing the internet and Google-maps street-view; it emerges that he got practically everything wrong about Fergus Falls, save the population, that it is in Minnesota, and the names of a couple of local restaurants. Not from carelessness, it appears; a couple of enterprising Fergus Falls residents were appalled and vexed in equal measure, and spent time and effort fisking the Relotius article, concluding without a shred of doubt that the man took a few pictures, talked briefly to some locals and flat-out pencil-whipped a fantasy Trumpland Fergus Falls, adorned with names and pictures intended to lend corroborative detail and artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. Also rather obviously, (as has been pointed out by many of the commenters to the article) it was the narrative that his editors and readers back in Germany wished most sincerely to read, confirming all existing biases.

Frankly, this kind of journalistic malpractice is why so many of us now regard the national media outlets with extreme skepticism: after Dan Rather and the 60 Minutes TANG debacle, Jayson Blair, Scott Beauchamp and others examples of bias, favoritism and outright fraud, how could we not? Dan Rather tried to throw a presidential election with bogus documentation, Blair fantasized (and plagiarized) in the so-called national paper of record, and Beauchamp spun a whole cycle of bogus and unlikely military tales. These three and the like all told the tales that their editors and producers wanted to believe, and believed that their readership wanted to hear, if only to confirm their own prejudices, rather than report honestly and fairly. So after ten or twenty years or this – or even more, since it was much more difficult before the internet and widely-disseminated blogs, websites and discussion boards, to even unearth the like of such examples that I have listed – the news media’s credibility is comprehensively shot, and by the conduct of their own operatives. Which is ironic, since I daresay that the national media outlets are all mystified as to how come they cannot push the narrative in the direction they wish any more. Well – the diminishing number of those still in operation are mystified … but those of us who pay attention to such things are not.

(PS – the first three Luna City volumes in Kindle edition are on sale for .99 cents each through the end of December.)

32 thoughts on “Print the Legend”

  1. David’s Medienkritik, dedicated to exposing anti-American bias in German media, has been inactive for years, but recently published on the Relotius firing.SPIEGEL Reporter Fired for Inventing Stories – Some with Anti-American Tilt

    Well – that paragon of high journalism and integrity – Der Spiegel – beacon of honest, objective, and above-all “expert” reporting on the United States apparently has a problem. One of its reporters has been fired for inventing facts – and actually getting caught doing so….
    Mr. Relotius is perhaps just the most overt of Spiegel liars, caught and sacked for being too brazen in his journalistic malpractice. But make no mistake: The lies of omission, spin and bias that have tainted Der Spiegel and Spiegel Online for decades continue unabated on an industrial scale. Some things never change…

    David’s Medienkritik had a brilliant take-down of another German journalist’s ignorant, inaccurate, deceitful characterization of the Amis. Markus Günther: Hypocritical Americans Suppressing Memories of Slavery – Other Injustices

    German journalist Markus Guenther believes that the United States and its people are hypocrites. Why? Because – according to yet another supreme German media “expert” – the people of the United States conspicuously suppress their own injustices while busily memorializing distant tragedies. In an article entitled “Commemorating and Suppressing,” (that appeared on the Passauer Neue Presse and Maerkische Allgemeine websites as well as in the “Politics” section of the Donauwörther Zeitung,) Guenther argues that, while Americans busily erect monuments to the victims of Communism and virtually everything else, they allegedly refuse to acknowledge the darkest chapters of their own history. He specifically brings up the legacies of slavery and the fate of the Native Americans. As “proof” that Americans are hypocrites, he claims that there is no museum documenting the plight of the Native Americans and no statue dedicated to the victims of slavery in Washington.

    The article goes on to refute the ignorant German.

  2. they allegedly refuse to acknowledge the darkest chapters of their own history. </i

    I’ve been to the grave of one of my great great uncles who died in the Union army in the Civil War to free the slaves.

    I am unable to visit the other as he is buried in a grave marked “unknown” in Memphis National Cemetery. I’m going to visit next June to see if I can figure out which it is from his unit (55th Illinois Volunteer Infantry) and the date of his death, June 2, 1863.

    Germans have plenty of their own problems with Muslim Immigrants, if they would recognize it.

  3. In a world full of hypocrisy, Germany certainly takes the biscuit. Posturing on “greenery” … while getting fat marketing over-priced lumbering gas-guzzlers across the planet. Shutting down perfectly safe nuclear power plants and replacing them with nasty brown coal fossil fuel electric plants … while talking big about their commitment to stopping alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    But let’s give respect where it is due. At least Der Spiegel had sufficient sense of shame to fire their fraudulent reporter. If only that German residuum of honor was also felt by the Clintons, the FBI, and the Department of Justice!

  4. The stunning thing about the Relotius story is not that a journalist lied, but that his editors actually believed his gross fabrications. “Spiegel’s” competitor in Germany, “Focus,” has been covering the scandal with glee, never bothering to look in the mirror in the process, of course. For example, it describes six of Relotius’ grossest fabrications in this story:

    In the blurb about Fergus Falls it quotes a “chief editor” named Fictner at “Spiegel,” who I’m sure was “shocked, shocked,” by the affair, as follows,

    “In his story about Fergus Falls, Relotius tailored his report in a harmful and arrogant manner. To get the ball rolling, he told how he saw that a second sign had been set up right next to the welcome sign at the entrance to the town, half as high, but plainly visible. On this sign, made of thick wood driven into the frozen ground, stood in large, painted letters, “Mexicans Keep Out – Mexikaner bleibt weg.”

    Can you imagine the degree of ignorance of the United States of anyone who could believe such a story, set in Minnesota, no less, the home of the Farmer/Labor Party?! In fact, the editors at “Der Spiegel” live in a hermetically sealed ideological echo chamber, and yet firmly believe that they know way, way more about America than the Americans themselves. Meanwhile, in another story, the equally clueless editors of “Focus” tell how a Sherlock Holmes on the “Spiegel” staff by the name of Juan Moreno “uncovered” Relotius’ fabrications through careful detective work, persisting in spite of the stubborn disbelief of his bosses, heroically convincing them in the end:

    In fact, what “heroically convinced” them wasn’t super sleuth Moreno, but an expose by citizens of Fergus Falls themselves that became too big a story for “Spiegel” to blow off. Any reasonably well-informed child could have informed the “layers of editors and fact checkers” at “Spiegel” that they were blockheads for swallowing such fairy tales.

    What’s really sad about this story is that the MSM in Germany will continue to relentlessly print similar smears of the United States in the context of the rest of the leftist narrative that passes for “truth” in that country. Perhaps they will rely less on outright lying and more on the “more professional” journalistic technique of simply ignoring anything that doesn’t fit the narrative, but that remains to be seen. Unfortunately, there is little in Germany comparable to the talk radio, conservative news outlets, or widely read and influential bloggers that exist in the United States to push back against the narrative. You have to sympathize with the German people. When it comes to fighting back against the suicidal tendencies of their elites, they have little to rely on but their own instincts. I know of not a single major German “news” outlet – Spiegel, Focus, the Frankfurt, Berlin, and Munich newspapers, etc., etc. – that portrays the flooding of Germany with culturally alien “asylum seekers” in other than a benign light, and opponents of that ongoing disaster as ideologically suspect right wingers, if not outright Nazis.

  5. I read about Fergus Falls when this story broke and thought- “Well, this isn’t the first time Germans have underestimated small town USA.”

  6. “[A]rtistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative”. W. S. Gilbert? I could have sworn I read that (unattributed!) in a novel by Trevanian. I always gave T. credit for that nice turn of phrase.

  7. Yes – WS Gilbert – it’s a line by the character Poo-Bah in The Mikado.
    The faked Hitler diaries were swallowed book, line and sinker by the magazine Stern – not Der Spiegal.

  8. I know Fergus Falls. It is a delightful little community. In one of its parks you can see The World’s Largest Otter, a big cement totem that was part of an area construction fad in the 1960s. Politically it leans conservative but with the sort of pragmatism that small communities far from metropolitan areas and ridiculously far from The Coasts tend to adopt. For his many flaws Garrison Keillor, at least in his early work, captured the spirit of such places well.

    There has been an influx of immigrants to rural areas of Minnesota in the past twenty years. Lots from Mexico. A surprising number from Somalia. You’d be naive to assume there was not a bit of friction. There always is. My grandparents came from another little town up that way, Hawley Minnesota. There was literally a part of town on the “other side of the tracks” where the Finns lived and while they were tolerated they were a couple of generations ago anyway, a distinct community. They’d not be seen at Hawley Lutheran Church for instance.

    But the people of Hawley and Fergus Falls and those of all the small midwest towns I know are good folks. Imperfect, sure. But not the cartoon Bubbas portrayed by this pipsqueak German reporter.

    I’ve had overseas guests including some from Germany. I take them places where they will actually learn about small town America. Friday evening cocktail hour in the side yard. A Demolition Derby. Once I took a German guest to a political rally during a Presidential election.

    Too bad this guy did not have a tour guide to make a few intros. When I travel overseas I probably don’t see the whole picture either but I’m not being paid to do so.


  9. “Too bad this guy did not have a tour guide to make a few intros.”
    He wasn’t there to attempt to write an accurate story.

  10. Once I took a German guest to a political rally during a Presidential election.

    Many years ago, I was the host at the American College of Surgeons convention for a well known Dutch professor of Surgery. My wife and I were given the task of being their hosts for social events. We took them to restaurants in San Francisco, where the convention was held that year. It was a lot of fun.

    Finally, the convention was over Friday but they were staying another day so we invited them to go to a pep rally Friday night before the USC-Stanford (or Cal) game which was Saturday. I told them they could see a bit of Americana. He later told me it was the most interesting thing he had seen in multiple visits to America. There was the school band and the cheer leaders and song girls. He said that he was interested to see people drinking and militaristic music and marching. He told me “In Germany, in such a setting, we would be in some danger.” He thought it fascinating that Americans were just happy and there was no anger or threatening.

  11. Mike K

    Your examples parallel mine to a tee.

    The political rally I mentioned was when George W. Bush came to town to speak at a local manufacturer. Our German friend was astonished that I could get tickets to attend. It was as these things go, pretty tame stuff (pre Trump of course) but he was still a bit uneasy as well as impressed. He indicated that parties in Germany never do anything like this… not wanting to be perceived as going Full Nuremberg most likely.

    Later we took him to that Demolition Derby. We sat close enough to get mud sprayed on us. Germans love their automobiles with a passion that goes beyond Agape clear out into Eros. The very concept of junkers was alien enough…but purposeful, gleeful destruction of cars! Undenkbar!

    Another German visitor dropped in unannounced one time. Distant relative but we were happy to have him. He saw the shaved head crew cuts my boys were sporting soon after school got out and wanted one too. Having his hair buzzed down to the appropriate style out on our front porch was another of those impossible to plan cultural exchanges.


  12. I had a fair amount of contact with Germans in Latin America, both as coworkers and as fellow tourists. I found the Germans, when compared to other Euros, to be the most compatible with this Ami. Brits were cold and compared to other Euros,less able to adapt to Latin America. If there was a Euro complaining about Latin America, odds were it was a Brit doing the complaining. French were arrogant chauvinists.

    This also applied to my experiences in the US with the above nationalities.

    My late brother-in-law, who emigrated with his family from Germany at age 12,also gave me a positive impression of the Germans.

    As such, I was shocked at the German anti-Americanism that David’s Medienkritik chronicled. One of the most-remembered German anti-American utterances came from Herta Däubler-Gmelin in 2002, when she compared George W. Bush to Hitler and characterized American justice as “lousy.”It turns out that Herta Däubler-Gmelin’s father was jurist-an attorney- in the SS who did his part to send Slovakian Jews to the camps.Do You Remember Herta Däubler-Gmelin?

    In the meanwhile, information has emerged about Däubler-Gmelin’s family history that casts her 2002 remarks in a revealing new light. The fact that she was born in 1943 in what her official Bundestag biography calls”Preßburg” could already have given one cause to pause. “Preßburg” is the traditional German name for the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. In
    1943, Slovakia was a satellite state of Nazi Germany…

    The real power in Slovakia was vested in the German envoy Hanns Ludin. After the War, Ludin would be found guilty of war crimes and executed. Ludin’s principal deputy was one Hans Gmelin. A Nazi party member and squadron-leader or “Standartenführer” in the paramilitary SA, Gmelin wasa jurist by training. He was one of the many jurists that the Nazis dispatched to the occupied territories and German satellite states in order to implement their “new European order.” He was also the father of the future German minister of justice, Herta Däubler-Gmelin.

    Documentary evidence discussed in an April 25, 2005 article in the Schwäbische
    Tagblatt indicates that Hans Gmelin was directly involved in the deportation of Slovakian Jews to the Nazi death camps. As author Hans-Joachim Lang notes:

    Whether Eichmann was announcing his arrival [in Bratislava] or railway officials came by to discuss “questions relating to the shipment of Jews” or the Reich Central Security Office was welcoming the Slovak government’s “making available of railway equipment,” initials on the documents always confirmed who had been informed: for example, “Gm” for Gmelin.

    An estimated 70,000 Slovakian Jews, representing over three-fourths of the pre-War Jewish population, died in the Nazi camps.

    Her father spent 3 years in prison after the war. Given that Herta Däubler-Gmelin’s father facilitated the transport of Slovakian Jews to the camps, not many would consider that an onerous sentence. If anything,the sentence was too lenient.

    I suspect that Herta Däubler-Gmelin’s condemnation of George W. Bush, and her “lousy” characterization of American justice, were attempts to show that her Daddy and Germany weren’t the only guilty parties. Herta Däubler-Gmelin is not responsible for her father’s actions during World War II, but from her criticisms of the US, it appears that she feels some responsibility for her father’s actions during WW2, or that she resents the punishment meted out to her father. As such, we should dismiss her criticisms of the US.

    Which is what I tend to do for most German criticisms of the US.

  13. I read the expose by the Fergus Falls folks, and noted that a) they were good liberals who b) took more than a year to rebut the libels, even though they could have done so within a month.

    I wonder if they look at themselves in the mirror and think, “If this anti-Trump article could get everything so wrong, perhaps we should view similar stories with as much skepticism.”

  14. Yeah, a lot of other people commenting have wondered that as well: would they have been OK with Herr Relotius just slanting his article sufficiently to conform with the Standard Lib Deviation … but he had to go all-out with the fabrication, fabrication which was so obvious and so completely debunkable. I’ll give them credit for being outraged at having the place they lived in being so thoroughly and obviously calumniated, but I do wonder, if they would have been OK with being his ‘native guide’ and leading him around to all the expected sights if he had written a less fraudulent article.

  15. Apropos the “layers of editors and fact checkers” at Der Spiegel, they chimed in right on cue with the following:

    According to the first paragraph:

    “Any text that appears in the weekly SPIEGEL, whether printed or digital, is read by many colleagues before its publication: by at least one department head and one editor-in-chief, by staff in editing and the legal department. But the heart of quality control is the in-house documentation. The more than 60 colleagues – physicists, historians, biologists or Islamic scholars – ensure that names, dates and facts are correct, they verify every word and every number. Hardly any other news medium makes such an effort to live up to the claim: What we write is true. In the days of Fake News, documentation is something we take very seriously.”

    Now look through the list of gross lies documented in the Medium article that blew this story wide open:

    Therein you will find set forth like ducks in a row virtually all of the crude, quasi-racist stereotypes of Americans the German media are so fond of cultivating. Americans as xenophobic racists? Check! Americans as prudes? Check! Americans as religious nuts? Check! Americans ignorant of the outside world? Check! Americans as militaristic? Check! Americans as thoughtless polluters of the environment? Check! and the list goes on. In short, Relotius’ “reporting” fits the narrative so well that one would have to be an imbecile not to see through it immediately – that or a denizen of the “layers of editors and fact checkers” at Der Spiegel.

  16. Even prior to our withdrawal and reunification, Der Spiegel was leftist and passively anti-American. Its opinion of the US is that we were arrogant, slovenly cowboys (deplorables if you will), but our military presence was a necessary evil. Some of our junior enlisted troops did there best to confirm that opinion. I spent two three year tours there, the last one ended in 1985, but I have deployed and visited there since, the last time was in 2014. I found that average native born German to be little changed, polite, gracious and friendly toward my family and me. Some of this contact was in Koln, Munchen and Berlin, but most of it was in the smaller rural towns.

    My conclusion was that the German media generally reflects the same basic attitudes toward flyover country USA as our own. Same with their elites as with ours. If anything their media is more uniform in opinion and bias than here. We at least have the WSJ and Fox for alternatives of sorts. The “regular” German is more attuned to current events than the average American, but perhaps a little more circumspect in accepting of media offerings.

    Since I haven’t been there since the election of Trump, I’m curious how this has changed. I would suspect that divisions in Germany have widened and their media have amped it up to ludicrous. This is bound over time to drive factions apart. The practical results of increased immigration/asylum and impact on their social fabric seem to be having significant divisive effects.

    Since I haven’t been there since the election of Trump, I’m curious how this has progressed (pun intended). I would suspect that divisions in Germany have widened and their media have amped it up to ludicrous. This is bound over time to drive factions apart. The practical results of increased immigration/assilium and impact on their social fabric seems to be having significant devisive effects.


  17. Der Spiegel is in the midst of a showy investigation to determine to the nearest millimeter just how high Relotius piled it. They hope that obscures that what they won’t dare do is look at all of the other stories that passed through the same hands. Relotius doesn’t look smart enough to have been the only one to discover this lack of rigor.

  18. Honestly, I think the man could go into business, providing those dummy parcels for customers to outfit with their own cellphones, can-o-fart-spray and glitter with which to discombobulate parcel thieves. The Deity knoweth that local police departments usually don’t get serious about this kind of petty theft: where the law can’t or won’t get involved, there will inevitably be an opening for creative vigilantism.

    Not to distract from the more important discussion here of the malpostings of the MSM, but, the creator of the theft did a partial recant of his original video release, just FYI (better to be aware of what happened if someone misunderstood what did).

    In addition to his own experiences, which are legit, he sought out others to help, offering some money if the item was stolen and recovered. Apparently, this (not unsurprisingly in retrospect) encouraged at least one bad actor to get friends to stage thefts. He found out about it, posted a public apology, and re-released it without the “bogus” thefts.

    This seems likely to, at some point, get perverted to “That was all faked”. So the wider spread the actual mistake and subsequent corrective events were, the better it is for the real, still legit, and hilarious story.


  19. @MCS

    “Der Spiegel is in the midst of a showy investigation to determine to the nearest millimeter just how high Relotius piled it.”

    Yes, and it comes complete with a whole new fairy tale constructed around the bogus claim that the “Sherlock Holmes” I mentioned above, Juan Moreno, is the knight in shining armor who detected the Relotius fabrications. Of course, since Moreno works for them, that implies that they discovered Relotius’ impostures on their own, and immediately published their discovery. The reality is that a couple of citizens of Fergus Falls alerted Der Spiegel to his lies months ago, as the following link to a timeline one of them posted on Twitter shows. The noble editors at Der Spiegel, who are now ostentatiously agonizing over how lies that should have been obvious to any child slipped through their “layers of editors and fact checkers,” only came clean when it became clear to them that their attempts to suppress the story would fail.

  20. Helian: Your link also shows the care the Minnesotans took to obtain a reliable translation. Some of Der Speigel is on line in English, I wonder if Relotius knew in advance that this wasn’t going to happen with this piece?

    I wonder what explanation he gave for not having a photo of the racist sign? His phone was dead and it was too far to go back? It might have been as far as a mile, more than a kilometer.

    I’ve been closely enough involved with a few incidents that made the papers to know independently what happened. Invariably, what I read had no relation to what actually happened. I suppose the joke is on me, since I will still scan through news articles under the delusion that I will be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. At least I no longer pay for the privilege.

  21. @MCS

    It’s worth mentioning that even during the most recent orgy of anti-American hate in Germany towards the end of the Clinton and the beginning of the Bush Administrations, there were always a few Germans, proprietors of little blogs, etc., who pushed back against and exposed the lies and slander. They were rewarded for their efforts by being smeared as “extremists,” not to mention “Nazis” on occasion. It’s sad so few Americans were aware of them. I remember, and I will always be grateful to them. It goes without saying that then, as now, Der Spiegel was in the vanguard of the German hate peddlers. Sometimes it was difficult to find anything about Germany on their website in the midst of all the furious rants about the evils of America.

  22. Helian: My brother was stationed in a multi-national NATO unit late 80’s-mid 90’s in Germany. He told me about a certain German officer. When someone would start grousing about “Americans”, the officer would point out that we were putting a couple of billion dollars a year into the economy that would be missed when we left. My brother lived off base and never had any problems with day to day dealings and enjoyed his stay. I doubt that Der Speigel understands the concerns of most Germans any better than the NYT does Americans.

    Now that we have largely departed, NATO is all but toothless.

  23. I will still scan through news articles under the delusion that I will be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    I assume you know about the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

    Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

    — Michael Crichton

  24. I do. I forgot the proper name. But as I said, I have passed beyond amnesia to delusions of discernment. I know it’s BS, I’m trying to pick out the undigested grain kernels. I think I will stop here rather than descend any further with my imagery.

  25. The Der Spiegel reporter has been busy in other en devours.

    An award-winning German magazine writer who resigned in disgrace for making up stories is suspected of embezzling cash he collected on behalf of children orphaned by the war in Syria, according to his former employer.

    Der Spiegel said Sunday it had uncovered information that Claas Relotius allegedly solicited contributions after writing an article about Syrian urchins living on the streets of Turkey — but directed donations to his own bank account.

    Those Germans ! He should get a job with one of the German companies that sold goodies to Saddam.

  26. The Euros have always been more than happy to sell the rope for their own hanging. German and French companies sold Iran the parts for their nuclear program as well as expertise. They’re anxious to resume, thus the uproar when sanctions were reimposed. Europe will be in range of Iranian missiles long before the U.S. Not that there aren’t Americans just as willing.

    The same applies to infra-European as well. Krupp collected royalties from Vicker’s for patents on shell fuses used during WWI against Germany.

    In Relotius’ defense, since the subjects of the article didn’t exist, He may have intended to forward the money in some appropriate way and never got around to it. Once the lies start to pile up, there’s no telling where they will end.

  27. A promising young reporter like Relotius who had already won international awards must have realized that being exposed as a liar would destroy his career. In spite of that, he submitted stories full of obvious lies that any “fact checker” worthy of the name should have noticed immediately. He obviously had no fear that the “department heads, editors-in-chief, physicists, historians, biologists, and Islamic scholars” doing the “fact checking” at Der Spiegel would notice a thing. He was right. They didn’t notice a thing until it became obvious the lies would be exposed whether Der Spiegel’s editors liked it or not. It would be far more accurate to describe these people as “narrative checkers.”

    If there really are any “fact checkers” at Der Spiegel, it appears they’ve never heard of Google Street View. I used it to “ride the bus” into Fergus Falls along the most obvious route. I didn’t detect any dark forests or dragons, nor was there even a welcome sign, unless I overlooked it. It turns out the address of the “bus station” mentioned by Relotius is the same as that of a local Tesoro gas station. The bus probably only makes a pit stop there. The actual Fergus Falls welcome sign shown in some of the articles about the affair is next to the Applebee’s near the corner of Kennedy Park Road and W. Lincoln. The bus wouldn’t have passed it unless the driver decided to take the “scenic route.” There is definitely no “Mexicans Keep Out” sign emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes standing next to it. It took me all of half an hour to take this virtual “ride” through Fergus Falls.

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