Hi there faithful readers!
As I recently posted, Jens Söring has a new book coming out: “Return to Life”. The obvious thing someone with a new book does is tour the country promoting it. Would Söring dare? After all, the other obvious thing an author with a book to promote can do is boost their social-media presence, as I’m doing right now. Yet Söring, after facing uncomfortable questions, deleted all of his social media in mid-2020.
Nevertheless, Söring does seem to be trying to put together a media comeback of sorts. This will allow us to see whether German media makers have learned their lesson about Söring. Will they uncritically recycle the false claims in the “Media Pack” prepared by his lawyers and PR agents? Or will they act as responsible journalists interested in a fair and balanced depiction of the facts?
Let’s have a look. Söring’s first stop will be at phil.cologne, the pop-philosophy fair held in Cologne. There, Söring will be appearing (g) with Germany’s most famous pop philosopher, Richard David Precht, about “Living and Surviving”. The blurb about Söring reads:
“Mit neunzehn kam er in die Isolation, mit dreiundfünfzig in die vermeintliche Freiheit, bis heute beteuert er seine Unschuld.
“At nineteen he was placed in solitary confinement, at fifty-three he was supposedly going to be free. He still claims his innocence today.”
The media people at phil.cologne do get the most important thing right: They didn’t simply state that Söring was innocent. Yet there are problems here as well. First of all, simply saying “He still claims his innocence today” is misleading by omission. It implies Söring has always claimed innocence, which of course isn’t true because of … all the confessions.
Söring was never placed in formal solitary confinement, as far as I can tell, certainly not for any long period. I’m not sure what phil.cologne thinks his “supposed freedom” means — he is a free man now; the only restriction on his freedom is he can’t return to the USA, which he probably doesn’t want to do. He also may not be able to get a visa for some other countries, since most countries aren’t interested in hosting double-murderers.
Truth Score: 5/10.
The next stop in the tour is NDR, where Söring will appear next to Andre Rieu (spangle wearer), Kerstin Ott (singer) and Okka Gundel (sportscaster) in a talk show hosted by Jörg Pilava and Bettina Tietjen in the North German Broadcasting show “NDR Talk“. Here, NDR fell for Söring’s line. The blurb for Söring’s appearance initially stated that he was “sentenced for a double-murder which he had not committed”. Of course, this is represents the production team for the show simply swallowing Söring’s version of events whole.
Truth score: 0/10.
I complained to the NDR, as did others. As a result, the NDR removed the statement of Söring’s innocence — without indicating this on the website.
The problem is, they replaced one piece of fake news with another. Now the website reads:
“33 Jahre lang kämpft Söring für eine Revision…”
“Söring fought to have his appeal heard for 33 years…”
No, he didn’t. The equivalent of a Revision in the USA is the direct appeal — the first appeal a criminal defendant is allowed after he is convicted of a crime. Since 1963, it has been the law in the USA that every person convicted of a serious crime is entitled to file a direct appeal, if necessary with a state-paid attorney. Söring’s appeal was heard and decided in 1991.
Truth score: 0/10.
His appeal/Revision was rejected. Unanimously. Not only that, Söring went on to file several habeas corpus appeals, the American equivalent of the German Wiederaufnahme. These were heard by the state district court, the Virginia Supreme Court, the federal district court, and the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit of Virginia. Söring lost them all.
A lot of German journalists embarrassed themselves by swallowing Söring’s claims wholesale while he was in prison. Now, with my FAZ articles and the Terry Wright report (available here in English and here in German) available to everyone for free, journalists can easily check Söring’s claims against the original records and evidence.
The fact that they still aren’t doing so is not a good sign for German journalism. I’m writing a piece about this in German for a newspaper, will post a link here when it’s up.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post misquoted the phil.cologne blurb as saying Soering became “supposedly free” at thirty-five. That was my error, thanks to commenters for pointing it out!