The News magazine wanted to look inside the two heads of state Volodymyr Zelenskyj and Vladimir Putin. A cover story on April 15 attempted some sort of remote psychoanalytic diagnosis. That went terribly wrong, said the journalist and columnist Christian Ortner five days later Post for the blog “Mena-Watch”.
It is about the description of the psyche of the Ukrainian president, who is known to be a Jew. Pictures used here are familiar from the Nazi era, says Ortner. Horst Pirker, Managing Director of the News publishing group, initially showed understanding and apologized – a month later he complained.
Ortner was astonished by the article: “First of all, we are amazed to learn that Zelenskyj, who is being hunted by Putin’s killer troops in Kyiv, is a ‘histrionics’, something like a male hysteric; which probably also explains his delusions of persecution in front of Putin’s killers.” He poses an enormous threat because, as News reports: “The motive of the histrionic is to fill up his inner emptiness; what he has to do like a vampire incessantly, lying and blinding to prove to himself how great he is.”
With the vampire who “lies and blinds”, the magazine moves into linguistic depths that people otherwise particularly liked to venture into in the Third Reich, Ortner wrote: “Because to compare a Jewish politician with a ‘vampire’ who smacks of blood good Christian people sucks, in the history of the German-speaking press, for example, the Stürmer, the Völkische Beobachter and similar publications dared, since 1945 this beautiful tradition has unfortunately gone somewhat out of fashion due to the circumstances.
Remarkably, Zelenskyj’s supposed tendency towards vampirism is based on his ancestors, who were murdered in the Holocaust: “The driving force here, as I said, can be the psychological trauma of the Jewish ancestors (…).”
The news story was already causing outrage on social media, even before Ortner wrote his article. Finally, Pirker declared: “I will immediately have the accusation of anti-Semitism checked by a competent party.” Christian Ortner described this as “a really excellent idea”. Only apparently did Pirker come to different conclusions in the end. The news manager filed a lawsuit against Ortner and Mena-Watch before the Vienna Commercial Court. Pirker does not want to let the fact that his medium is “directly and bluntly” accused of anti-Semitism.
“Mena-Watch” is an “independent Middle East blog” that also deals with anti-Semitism. Ortner is a guest columnist there. Ortner is not alone in his criticism. Journalism professor Maximilian Gottschlich, for example, sees in the “sublime linking of diagnosed or suspected mental disorders with Selenskyj’s repeatedly mentioned Jewish biography” ultimately “a victim-perpetrator reversal that runs like a red thread through the history of anti-Semitism”.