Der breuer’sche Barolo

“Mr. Breuer’s Barolo,” in this case not a decent Italian red wine but possibly a secret project at Deutsche Bank in 2002 to deliberately bankrupt media magnate Leo Kirch’s empire and profit from breaking up and selling off his businesses. Leo Kirch claimed this happened until he died. Now supposedly an email has turned up containing evidence of at least some perjury. “Project Barolo” would have been the name of the secret undertaking, which took place when Rolf E. Breuer was the head of Deutsche Bank. The found email from a London investment division was cc’d to Mr. Breuer and dated January 2002.

ZDF heute journal’s Sina Mainitz said the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported prosecutors are now investigating whether four former members of Deutsche Bank’s management board [Vorstand] and the C.E.O. Jürgen Fitschen lied in the Kirch trial when they said they never made plans to break up the media empire. Mr. Kirch’s conglomerate collapsed after Mr. Breuer accidentally let slip in a February 2002 interview that Deutsche Bank thought the conglomerate, a Deutsche Bank client, might no longer be solvent. Mr. Kirch’s ability to obtain new loans was curtailed and his companies began filing for bankruptcy in April 2002.

(Dare   BROY ahsh eh   bar OH lo.)

Trennungsjournalismus vs. Journalismus der richtigen Zusammenhänge

“Separation journalism vs. journalism of correct connections.” A NiemanLab.org book review said Jay Rosen wrote that U.S. journalist ethics have been about getting the separations right and should move on to getting the connections right.

Bob Garfield made a seemingly related comment about journalistic problems with lack of context in the 02 Aug 2013 episode of National Public Radio’s “On the Media” when he said, “Journalism is pretty terrible at covering ongoing conditions. It tends to be very good covering the acute. Poverty and de-industrialization, they’re just hard to cover because they require constantly paying attention to things that are changing only very incrementally, right?” I think he went on to indicate the longer term was only two weeks though.

The wonderful Seymour Hersh mentioned the recognizing relevance problem—after substance’s having been neglected too long in favor of style—in a talk at Boston University from what may have been the first year of President Obama’s first term because health reform hadn’t passed yet.

“[T]here’s no knowledge. I can’t tell you how many times… just last weekend, a senior official was interviewed live, maybe to camera, but the interview was broadcast live on a major show by somebody who didn’t really understand what he had said. He gave away something, and the person wasn’t smart enough, though a very eminent person, wasn’t smart enough to jump on it. So you have a lack of acumen too, because it’s all gone stylish. And so there you are.”

Lacking the information you need doesn’t mean you’re not smart. But it’s everyone’s tragedy if it’s not remedied.

Speaking of style/substance and context’s deep undercurrents: In the 1990’s my fellow German history majors and I were instantly suspicious of German television news anchors who smiled. In addition to exceeding what was necessary in the exquisitely minimalist atmosphere of the time, and implicitly giving permission to models that ultimately drove news into entertainment, they appeared to be knowingly or unknowingly siding with encroaching private media empires that were trying then to undermine the decent public television channels you could still find in Germany. Some of those entrepreneurial, debt-fueled private channels have since gone broke while others resemble empires. There have been changes at the top as well: British media mogul Robert Maxwell was found floating dead next to his yacht, and Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch died of old age after suing Deutsche Bank for accidentally bankrupting his company by managerial loose talk. For a time, Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s interest in purchasing German media scared people so much they hoped Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi would get them instead. Today I think the smiling-news-anchors “tell” no longer applies—you can be a very good German news anchor now and occasionally smile on television!—but persistently mugging for the camera might remain a bad indicator. Sounds terrible in the context of 2013 U.S.A., criticizing someone for smiling!

F.y.i., here is NiemandLab.org’s interesting Rosen-brainstormed collection of ideas about contemporary deliberate U.S. journalistic separations:

  • Editorial functions are separated from the business side.
  • The news pages are separated from the opinion pages.
  • Facts are separated from values.
  • Those who make the news are separated from those who cover the news.
  • Truth-telling must be separated from its consequences so that journalists can “tell it like it is.”
  • The newspaper is separated from other institutions by its duty to report on them.
  • One day is separated from another because news is what’s “new” today.
  • A good journalist separates reality from rhetoric.
  • One’s professional identity must be separated from one’s personal identity as a citizen.
  • How one “feels” about something is separate from how one reports on it.
  • The journalist’s mind is separate from the journalist’s soul.

(TRENN oongz joor nah LEEZ moose   VAIR seuss   joor nah LEEZ moose   dare   tsoo ZOM en heng eh.)

Fantastillionen

“Lots of money,” an “unimaginable fortune,” but no one knows how much yet. The Münchener Abendzeitung reported reports, firmly denied, of account balances totalling several hundred million euros. Uli Hoeneß, the president of German soccer’s version of the NY Yankees, FC Bayern Munich, submitted a Selbstanzeige in January 2013 for unpaid taxes on funds in one or more Swiss bank accounts and has already paid an initial lump sum of about six million in unpaid taxes. He said he didn’t report himself before January 2013 because he was betting the tax agreement with Switzerland would be ratified that provided amnesty, anonymity and a low tax rate for “tax sinners.” Tagesschau.de reports that it’s still unclear where the untaxed monies came from, whether from his bratwurst factory or from other sources.

ZDF heute journal found footage of Hoeneß on talk shows such as the charming Günther Jauch’s in autumn 2012 recommending low taxes for rich Germans because otherwise, he said, they would move to Austria, Switzerland or “who knows where.”

CSU chair Horst Seehofer confirmed on Saturday, 20 Apr 2013, at a CSU meeting in a Munich Hofbräuhaus cellar, that the district attorney was looking into the matter. The CSU had been going to propose Hoeneß as a political candidate, and he probably would have been confirmed.

The Münchener Abendzeitung commented on 20 Apr 2013:

“The question remains whether Hoeneß can now hope for the same support from the Bavarian state government as Franz Beckenbauer, to whom Bavarian finance minister Ludwig Huber once gave tips about tax flight into Switzerland while Huber was still in office?”

Achtung: Focus Magazin’s publisher is on the board of FC Bayern Munich.

(FAHN tossed ill ee own en.)

DeuBa

Syllabbreviation for the Deutsche Bank. Whose co-chief, Jürgen Fitschen, has apologized for phoning Hessian governor Volker Bouffier (CDU) after the Frankfurt district attorney’s 500-man razzia on 12/12 (but before the Munich district attorney’s 10-man razzia on 12/20, the latest Leo Kirch-related search of DeuBa premises) to complain that the Frankfurt district attorney’s 500-man razzia may have damaged the Deutsche Bank’s image. Fitschen’s phone call has been roundly condemned by German politicians in a [2011 Anglicism of the Year].

One expert has speculated that Fitschen fell on his sword so that duarch Anshu Jain can remain unfired. I’m wondering how the press learned about the phone call.

Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Klaus Ott said the Deutsche Bank was warned by the Frankfurt D.A. last summer. “There was a sort of yellow card, a dark-yellow card, half a year ago, and the Deutsche Bank knew that if they didn’t cooperate there would be a search.”

Update on 03 Apr 2014: A blogger reviewing Michael Lewis’s new book on high-frequency trading mentioned an interesting relationship between the Securities and Exchange Commission, Deutsche Bank and the global financial crisis of 2008:

“The SEC’s head of enforcement, Robert Khuzami, was general counsel for the Americas for Deutsche Bank from 2004 to 2009. And who did Lewis reveal to be one of the biggest instigators of the subprime short and related CDO sales? Gregg Lippmann of Deutsche Bank, patient zero of this strategy. Any serious investigation of CDO malfeasance would implicate Khuzami.”
—Yves Smith

(Doy! Bah!)

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