German publisher fires editor, apologizes for fake Schumacher AI interview

A German publisher has fired an editor over Michael Schumacher's fake interview. [AP News]

A German publisher has fired one of its magazine’s editors and apologized to the family of Michael Schumacher for publishing a fake interview with the Formula One great that was generated by artificial intelligence.

“This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It does not in any way correspond to the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke,” Funke Magazines managing director Bianca Pohlmann said on Saturday.

Pohlmann said Funke was firing the chief editor of Die Aktuelle magazine, where the so-called interview appeared, and the group apologized to Schumacher’s family.

Family spokesperson Sabine Kehm already told The Associated Press by email on Thursday that it was planning to take legal action over a “fake artificial intelligence interview by German outlet Die Aktuelle.”

The magazine printed a photo of the 54-year-old Schumacher on its front page last weekend along with the words: “Michael Schumacher, the first interview!”

The magazine also wrote “it sounds deceptively real” with the supposed quotes attributed to Schumacher generated by AI. Die Aktuelle is one of many tabloid celebrity magazines in Germany.

It was while skiing in the French Alps at Meribel that Schumacher fell in December 2013 and suffered a near-fatal brain injury. His head hit a rock which split open his helmet. Doctors removed blood clots but others were left untouched because they were too deeply embedded in his brain.

Since being transferred from a hospital in September 2014, the seven-time F1 champion continues to be cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland.

Schumacher retired from F1 in 2012 after three seasons with Mercedes and was replaced on the team by Lewis Hamilton, who has matched Schumacher’s F1 titles record.