RTLzwei’s decision to produce a documentary on Michael Wendler has been cancelled after a backlash on social media. The broadcaster faced criticism for giving airtime to a discredited pop star who had made controversial remarks about the coronavirus pandemic, including promoting conspiracy theories and comparing lockdown measures to a concentration camp. It was only after the broadcaster received an avalanche of negative attention that it announced it would not be pursuing the project. RTLzwei apologized for the decision stating the importance of avoiding any appearance that the broadcaster is willing to make cuts to extremist comments.
Wendler’s wife, Laura Müller, and himself were set to share their baby joy in the documentary. While criticism of the decision intensified, RTLzwei knew about Wendler’s controversial remarks, but they were never mentioned. However, even after announcing the cancellation, the broadcaster did not provide detailed reasoning behind its decision.
As news of the planned docu-soap project emerged, it drew criticism from many quarters. Even the Geissens, who are RTLzwei viewers, distance themselves from the broadcaster, and RTL Germany confirmed that on their streaming service they would not provide the planned format. Many viewers were also uncomprehending of RTLzwei’s decision to give airtime to someone who had made such controversial remarks during a global health crisis.
RTLzwei has always prided itself on distancing itself from extremism of all kinds and standing for open-mindedness and tolerance. The broadcaster acknowledges its relationship with its audience and has taken its criticism seriously, leading to the decision not to pursue the project.