Reporter suspended for smearing herself with mud and pretending to have helped with flood clean-up efforts

Susanna Ohlen on RTL
Susanna Ohlen appeared on to report on the flood clean-up efforts. RTL
  • Susanna Ohlen smeared herself with mud before reporting on flood clean-up efforts in Germany.
  • Ohlen said she did it because she was “ashamed” to appear on camera looking clean.
  • Broadcaster RTL has put her on a leave of absence.
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A German reporter has been suspended for smearing herself with mud to make it appear that she had been helping clean up a flooded town.

In a news segment for “Guten Morgen Deutschland” on RTL, Susanna Ohlen suggested she had been participating in the clean-up efforts following the extreme flooding that had devastated the country.

Footage secretly filmed by an onlooker showed Ohlen smearing mud on her face and clothes before filming the segment.

RTL had published an article titled “Cleaning up after the flood: RTL presenter Susanna Ohlen lends a hand in Bad Muenstereifel.” It has now been removed from its website.

Hours after the video was posted on Twitter, RTL said they had suspended Ohlen.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster said, “Our reporter’s approach clearly contradicts journalistic principles and our own standards. We, therefore, gave her leave of absence on Monday after we heard about it.”

Ohlen took to Instagram to apologize and explain that she did it because she was “ashamed” to appear on camera looking clean.

“After I had already privately helped out in the region on previous days, on that morning I was ashamed to appear on camera in front of the other aid workers with a clean upper body,” she said.

“So I unthinkingly smeared mud on my clothing. This should never have happened to me as a journalist. It happened to me as a person whose heart was touched by the suffering of all those affected.”

The death toll from the devastating floods last week in Germany and neighboring countries stands at more than 200 people, with 150 still unaccounted for. The cleanup operation and economic costs are estimated to cost billions, according to AP.