19 March 2015

The Varoufakis Stinkefinger

It all started on Sunday when Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis appeared on German public broadcaster ARD’s Günther Jauch talk show. Confronted with footage from 2013 where he apparently flips the bird at Germany over its Eurozone policies (the Stinkefinger as it’s known auf Deutsch), Varoufakis claimed that the video had been doctored.

Fast forward to Monday and the entire German media was up in arms over the alleged Stinkefinger and Varoufakis’ subsequent denial. Bild branded Varoufakis “The Liar” in big white letters, and emblazoned it on a full-page Stinkefinger for maximum effect.

Finger was faked

Yesterday ZDF comedian Jan Böhmermann (also responsible for the viral V for Varoufakis video) waded into the debate, releasing a video purporting to show how he had faked the Varoufakis Stinkefinger.

This has led the Guardian and other UK outlets to report that Varoufakis’s finger salute had been faked – while failing to realise that the claim it had been faked was itself fake.

Faked Stinkefinger claim faked

ZDF has now confirmed that Böhmermann’s intervention was, indeed, satire – and everyone is left with egg on their faces. The Eurozone crisis has now descended to such lows that on the day of the EU leaders’ summit, Varoufakis’ middle finger is still dominating the agenda.

Böhmermann himself has this morning released a video statement about the whole episode, highlighting just how ridiculous this is all becoming:

We would never ridicule the essential journalistic debate about a two-year old, out of context middle-finger or those seriously engaged in this debate.

Jan Böhmermann, 19 March 2015

Meanwhile the situation in Greece remains precarious. This morning, European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned on Deutschlandfunk radio that:

Time is running out…In the short term, [Greece] needs €2-3bn to maintain its current obligations.

Martin Schulz, European Parliament President, Deutschlandfunk Radio, 19 March 2015

For once it’s the Germans who have mastered the art of satire and the Brits not getting it…