Editor fired over 'tasteless' Schumacher interview

Anne Hoffmann used artificial intelligence programme to generate fake quotes from the seven-time Formula One champion

By AFP

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Michael Schumacher announces his retirement from Formula One during a press conference at the Suzuka Circuit venue for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix in Suzuka, Japan, October 4, 2012. — AP file
Michael Schumacher announces his retirement from Formula One during a press conference at the Suzuka Circuit venue for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix in Suzuka, Japan, October 4, 2012. — AP file

Published: Sat 22 Apr 2023, 2:42 PM

The editor of German magazine Die Aktuelle has been sacked after using an artificial intelligence programme to generate fake quotes from seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, the media group Funke announced.

Anne Hoffmann had stirred up a storm of controversy when on Wednesday the magazine published the interview — the first since Schumacher suffered a serious brain injury in a 2013 skiing accident in the French Alps.

Schumacher's family, who have carefully guarded the 54-year-old's privacy since the accident, said they were planning legal action.

Bianca Pohlmann, director of the Funke magazine group, apologised to the family on Saturday.

"This article was in bad taste and misleading and should never have appeared," said Pohlmann in a statement.

"It does not meet in any way the standards of journalism that we -- and our readers -- expect of a group like Funke.

"The editor in chief of 'Die Aktuelle', Anne Hoffmann, who has been in charge since 2009, has been relieved of her role as of now."

The article included quotes attributed to Schumacher, discussing his family life since the accident and his medical condition.

Schumacher has not been seen in public since the injury and little information has been given publicly on his condition.

Reports suggest Schumacher has memory, movement and speech problems and is being cared for at home near Geneva.

"'Private is private', as he always said," Corinna Schumacher, Michael's wife, said in a 2021 Netflix documentary.

"Michael always protected us and now we are protecting Michael."

Schumacher's seven Formula One titles is equal best alongside Lewis Hamilton. The German recorded 91 Grand Prix victories, second only to Hamilton's 103.

Michael's son, Mick, 24, is also a Formula One driver and currently a reserve driver with Mercedes.


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