Journalist admits fabricating story about town with 'Mexicans Keep Out' sign

A German journalist fabricated a story about his visit to a Minnesota town where he claimed he saw a "Mexicans Keep Out" sign, according to local outlet The Star Tribune

Claas Relotius, a reporter and editor with German news outlet Der Spiegel, admitted to fabricating quotes, characters and entire passages in at least 14 of 60 articles for the publication since 2011, Der Spiegel wrote in an article this week.  


One of the articles details a visit to Fergus Falls, Minn., according to the Tribune. Relotius wrote that there was a sign by the city limits reading "Mexicans Keep Out." He also claimed that City Administrator Andrew Bremseth hosted a "Game of Thrones" quiz night and wore a pistol holstered to his belt, both of which Bremseth says are untrue.

“There’s so little in the story that’s factual,” Bremseth told the Tribune. He said Relotius never responded when Bremseth pointed out the factual inaccuracies to him.

“There were people he totally created,” Bremseth said.

“It’s a small town," longtime Fergus Falls resident Michele Anderson told the paper. "A lot of us would have known about it," she added, referring to the sign Relotius referred to.

Relotius was sent to Fergus Falls four days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE's inauguration to give German readers insight into an American town, the Tribune reported.

Der Spiegel on Wednesday said Relotius had been fired after confessing this week that he made up details and stories in multiple articles, including some that won awards.

"By his own admission, there are at least 14 articles," the magazine wrote, before asking, "Could that figure actually be considerably higher?"

"Claas Relotius committed his deception intentionally, methodically and with criminal intent," Der Spiegel wrote. "For example, he included individuals in his stories who he had never met or spoken to, telling their stories or quoting them. Instead, he would reveal, he based the depictions on other media or video recordings." 

"By doing so, he created composite characters of people who actually did exist but whose stories Relotius had fabricated," it added. "He also made up dialogue and quotes." 

The stories where Relotius reportedly included false information included pieces about the U.S.-Mexico border, inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.