German TV reporter fired after caught smearing herself with mud to fake that she helped clear up flooded town

The reporter was caught in the lie by an onlooker who secretly filmed her

Lamiat Sabin
Friday 23 July 2021 16:26 BST
German TV reporter smears herself with mud to fake that she helped clear up flooded town

A German television news reporter has been sacked after smearing herself with mud to make it appear she was involved in the cleaning up of towns devastated by floods.

Susanna Ohlen no longer works for RTL, the channel confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

Footage that was secretly recorded by an onlooker, before it was posted to social media, shows Ms Ohlen – who has her back to the camera – picking up some mud from the ground and smearing it on what appears to be her face and clothes.

In the news segment for Guten Morgen Deutschland that has since been deleted online by RTL, she was reporting on the clean-up operations following the extreme floods that completely destroyed many towns and cities in Germany last week.

At least 173 people in Germany and 32 people in Belgium have died in the floods. It is feared the death toll may still rise as there are at least 176 people still missing from both countries, CNN has reported.

No deaths have been reported in the Netherlands, which was also hit by floods.

Viewers of Guten Morgen Deutschland are shown a street in Bad Münstereifel, in the west of Germany, with the camera panning over mounds of rubble and washed-up items from people’s homes and businesses.

The RTL report had said, according to the German newspaper Bild: “RTL presenter Susanna Ohlen lends a hand in the clean-up work in Bad Münstereifel and shares shocking recordings online.”

In her report, the mud-smeared Ms Ohlen – who was holding a spade and wearing a bucket hat, wellington boots, thick industrial gloves and a shirt with her sleeves rolled-up – called on viewers to join the clean-up operations.

Susanna Ohlen is seen scooping up mud from the ground

An RTL spokeswoman said on Thursday afternoon: “Our reporter’s approach clearly contradicts journalistic principles and our own standards. We therefore gave her leave of absence on Monday after we heard about it.”

Ms Ohlen, who has worked for RTL since 2008, apologised for her actions on Instagram, saying that she had made “a serious mistake”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in