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The Schlesinger system is everywhere

Patricia Schlesinger has not done herself any favors with her long silence.

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The Schlesinger system is everywhere

Patricia Schlesinger has not done herself any favors with her long silence. And now that she's talking, she's making things worse. The interview that the former ARD chairwoman and director of the RBB, who was fired without notice, gave to "Zeit" is a document of the hubris and self-righteousness of a woman who has failed and been thrown out, from which everything seems to bounce off.

The affair surrounding the suspicion of favouritism, expense fraud and private enrichment is not one scandal, but two: one concerns the question of what the ex-broadcaster boss did, the other the - in the long term more decisive - question of why she did it could do. Working through individual misconduct is a matter for compliance departments and the Attorney General's Office and will take months.

The underlying problem is a far greater challenge. It affects the politics that for decades has allowed public service broadcasting to lead a life of its own that makes such excesses possible. Revelations, not only at RBB, but also at NDR or WDR, make it clear that the supposedly close controls at ÖRR do not exist.

This has grown into a cumbersome juggernaut that costs eight billion euros a year because its financial requirements are regulated by a commission that, by law, does not look closely. Because the supervisory bodies are full of inexperienced amateurs from trade unions, clubs and associations.

BR director Katja Wildermuth speaks of “unique events at RBB”. A statement that Kayhan Özgenc, editor-in-chief of "Business Insider" finds "very courageous" at this point in time. He would also receive information about other ARD stations.

Source: WELT / Tatjana Ohm

If Schlesinger had followed through on her announcement that she would do everything possible to help clarify the situation, the newspaper interview would have been an opportunity. But reflection and self-criticism seem far from the ex-ARD boss. She uses the stage to portray herself as an unrecognized innovator and a leader assassinated by disloyal employees. Not only at the RBB, the ratings bottom of the ARD, many should shake their heads.

For ARD as a whole, the signs are pointing to a storm. But it is still unclear whether the publicly expressed desire for reform by the station bosses is serious or just a pose. In any case, it is striking that many who have remained silent for far too long about the RBB scandal are now at the forefront of the movement. What is needed now is politics, which offers the historic opportunity for real reform. Because the many revelations show that the “Schlesinger system” is everywhere.

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