The managing director of Correctiv met officials from the German Government immediately before the supposed "secret meeting" in Potsdam.


German Government ‘regularly met news outlet’ that reported ‘secret meetings’ of AfD over migrants

The managing director of Correctiv met officials from the German Government immediately before the supposed "secret meeting" in Potsdam.


Correctiv, the non-profit investigative newsgroup that broke the story about a “conspiratorial” Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) gathering, turns out to have had secret meetings with the Federal Government, including the German Chancellor.

The German outlet claimed “deportations” of migrants were discussed at the “clandestine” get-together, although it later backtracked on that story.

Jeanette Gusko, the managing director of Correctiv, met officials from the German Government immediately before the supposed “secret meeting” in Potsdam, according to the news portal NIUS. That is a German media venture set up last year “to shake up the Liberal orthodoxy of the establishment press”, the UK’s Telegraph reported.

NIUS said she specifically participated in two previously unreported appointments in November in the Federal Chancellery and Leipzig.

Just eight days before the Potsdam conference at Lake Lehnitz, Gusko met in person with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

This was unearthed by the Federal Government’s response to a written inquiry from Matthias Moosdorf, an AfD member of the Bundestag.

According to NIUS, Government leaders and Correctiv staff members have met 11 times over the past four years.

The Government did not reveal the content of those closed-door sessions. It asserted that private discussions between journalists and public authorities, safeguarded by press freedom, are considered confidential and for research purposes.

The Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported on several meetings and disclosed that, on June 2, 2020, there was one between Government officials, Correctiv and Facebook representatives to discuss the “fight against disinformation”.

Correctiv has been under increasing scrutiny after it turned out its report about the meeting in Potsdam, which spurred vehement condemnation of the AfD and “the far-right”, was not entirely accurate.

Anette Dowideit, the deputy editor-in-chief of Correctiv, said on January 28 that pivotal accusations regarding the issue did not occur “as generally reported”.

She said the Potsdam event was not “secretive” as such and no participant ever referred to “deportations of migrants” or to the Wannsee Conference, the 1942 meeting of high-ranking Nazi officials to plan the deportation and murder of Jewish people.

Such terms were “an interpretation” by the wider media, Dowideit claimed, despite the original article literally using those descriptions.

In January, NIUS revealed that, since its founding in 2014, Correctiv has raked in more than €3 million in taxpayers’ money, €1.2 million of which came from the Federal budget.

The German Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Green MP Claudia Roth, also chimed in. She claimed €199,000 was allocated to the portal for the Correctiv project Qualify Local Journalism, Strengthen Democracy in 2022 and 2023. These funds are not listed on the news outlet’s website.

According to NIUS, in 2023, the Ministry of Family Affairs provided €61,000 for the Live Democracy programme and in 2022 and 2023, the Ministry of Research and Education transferred a total of €266,000 for a research project into disinformation called noFake.

Again, on its own website, Correctiv is rather vague about where it gets its funding from.

Alongside State Government funds, Correctiv also received large sums from the Halle federal treasury, from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and from the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, NIUS said.

Foundations linked to political parties have also contributed considerable amounts of money, and these foundations receive funding from taxpayers, it reported.

Funding transfers came from the Greens-friendly Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (associated with the Christian Democratic Union, CDU), and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (connected with the Free Democratic Party, FDP), NIUS stated.

Five-figure amounts also arrived from State-owned or semi-State-owned companies including Telekom AG and Deutsche Bahn, which are partially controlled by the national Government, the news outlet claimed.

The apparently close ties between the Government and the news group seems to undermine its stated position that it is “oriented towards the common good” and “independent”, as described on the Correctiv website.

Gusko, who met Scholz on November 17, 2023, has said she is an “advocate of social justice”, a “leader for system change” and a “feminist” who has been well-connected to the Chancellor’s party, the SPD, “for years”.

Government representatives also reportedly met with Correctiv staff during Angela Merkel’s (CDU) tenure as chancellor from 2005 to 2021.

According to Berliner Zeitung, Correctiv CEO David Schraven in June 2020 visited the Ministry of the Interior for a private “exchange of ideas”.

Schraven and Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit met twice to discuss so-called disinformation campaigns, it is reported.

In November 2022, he also apparently met Andreas Görgen, Roth’s ministerial representative.

As a result of the media reports of the Potsdam “secret meeting”, several participants have taken legal action.