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Merkel ally insult of Romanians, Chinese an internet scoop

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In the “old days” of journalism, before the rise of the internet, an alert journalist might pick up on a politician’s gaffe in the middle of an election speech or somewhere on the campaign trail and publish or broadcast a story with the potential to change the dynamic of a race.

 

Nowadays, it could be instead the political opponent or citizen journalists armed with cell phone cameras or small hand-held cameras who can upset the applecart with a YouTube videos, blog or website report documenting a serious verbal blunder.

 

It’s a lesson that Juergen Ruettgers, the conservative state premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has now painfully learned.

 

Ruettgers apologised late on Friday for insulting both Romanian workers and Chinese investors at a campaign rally in the depressed working class city of Duisburg late last month (story here) as the row over his remarks escalated. Ruettgers, who has a track record of statements criticised as xenophobic, suggested at the rally in Ruhr River industrial city that the Romanian work ethic was inferior to Germany’s and he also made derogatory remarks about Chinese investors.

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