Zoom Image

Harald Schmidt: "Let's just make a coalition of CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP"

Photo: Johann Groder / Expa / APA / picture alliance

With a glass of wine, entertainer Harald Schmidt stands in a blue-striped shirt between two more than controversial men: author Matthias Matussek and former Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maaßen. This recording of the summer party of the "Weltwoche" in Zurich has caused criticism in recent days – probably not surprisingly for Schmidt, who has now commented on the incident in the "Zeit".

"Of course, I can calculate the excitement I'll get when I go there," said the former talk show host. "But I don't care." According to his own statement, however, the visit was not about provocation: "At the end of the day, I'm an author," says the 66-year-old. "I use what I experience on stage. I go where I expect material.«

Summer party of a right-wing populist newspaper

But why did he allow himself to be photographed with two men who have repeatedly attracted attention with right-wing populist statements in the past? There is no concrete answer to this question in the pre-announcement of the »Zeit«. Schmidt said, however, that he had to "take 40, 50 photos" on evenings like that. Sometimes he knows these people, sometimes he doesn't – whether he recognized Maaßen and Matussek – who used to work for SPIEGEL – remains open.

The presence of the two at the party is at least not surprising. Roger Köppel, the editor-in-chief and publisher of »Weltwoche«, has been a member of the Swiss National Council for the right-wing conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) since 2015. However, the 58-year-old does not want to run in the elections in October. »Eurotopics« , an online press review of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, attests to the newspaper's "right-wing populist course" under him.

In any case, Schmidt apparently does not find the joint photo with Mattusek and Maassen dramatic: "Well, if you don't want to be seen with anyone who has made a bit of a strange development, you are no longer allowed to go to the football stadium," says Schmidt. In the meantime, a photo is enough "to get the community going. Me with half empty glass. I didn't think I'd reach this status."

In the past, Schmidt had already caused a stir with cryptic statements about his vaccination status, among other things. He told SPIEGEL in 2022 that he was fulfilling "all certificate requests worldwide" even before they had even been expressed. As someone who is generally very secretive and not a chatterbox, I have to keep my vaccination status to myself."

»I think Olaf Scholz is good«

Schmidt has positive words for the current chancellor: "I think Olaf Scholz is good," he said. He appreciates Scholz's method: "Rest in the box. Let's see how it goes. And then intervene a little from time to time.« With regard to the high AfD poll ratings, he is relaxed: He is "not responsible for fears that people have." But: "We have an 80 percent bourgeois majority in Germany. Let's make a coalition of CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP. They'll have to pull themselves together a bit." He apparently has a very pragmatic idea of politics: the main thing is to "just work things off".

Among the critics of Schmidt's appearance at the summer party was presenter Klaas Heufer-Umlauf. In the podcast "Apocalypse & Filter Coffee" by Micky Beisenherz, he said, among other things: "There's not much humor left with such a picture." And: "That he voluntarily sets off at home, goes there, knowing exactly who is there and is looking forward to a wonderful evening with good conversations with Hans-Georg Maaßen and other discarded people." Heufer-Umlauf had previously worked for the »Harald Schmidt Show« himself. Now he said: "You doubt yourself, that you once had some kind of admiration."