Der Spiegel, November 7, 2008
Veteran Austrian television personality Klaus Emmerich has triggered a storm of criticism for his racist comments about Barack Obama, the US president-elect.
“I wouldn’t want the Western world to be directed by a black man,” Emmerich said.
Klaus Emmerich has long been a figure in Austrian television news. His journalism career spans 61 years and includes a stint as a correspondent in Washington D.C. for ORF, Austria’s public television station. He is something like the Wolf Blitzer of Austria.
Or, at least, he was. Now, the respected US expert has stained his own report card with a string of blatantly racist remarks regarding the election of Barack Obama in the US. Speaking on a talk show on the Austrian public channel ORF on Wednesday, he said: “I wouldn’t want the Western world to be directed by a black man. When you say that is a racist remark: right, without a doubt.”
Americans are “racists, now as before, and it must be going very badly for them that they so convincingly . . . send a black man, and a black, very good-looking woman, into the White House,” he said.
The Austrian broadcaster distanced itself from his views, saying it was against any form of discrimination. “We have never had any comments from Mr. Emmerich which would indicate he has such opinions,” Pius Strobl, head of communications at the channel told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Following his outburst, the moderator prevented the now-retired Emmerich from having another chance to speak, Pius said.
But Emmerich himself voiced no regret. On the contrary, he even took a harder line in subsequent interviews. Obama’s victory was an “extremely disconcerting development” he told the Austrian Standard on Wednesday, because “blacks aren’t as politically civilized.” Meanwhile, he told Die Presse in an interview published on Friday that Obama has “a devil-like talent to present his rhetoric so effectively.”
Dieter Brosz, a speaker of the Green Party, was one of many riled by the comments. He urged the channel not to give Emmerich a platform again. “Racist remarks have no place on ORF and are to be avoided.”