“The backing of the AfD, as a large political party which stood behind verbal attacks on the media, legitimized violence against journalists,” said another local reporter who did not want to be named because of fears over her safety. The reporter was referring to the far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party whose, leaders have verbally attacked journalists and given out “Pinocchio” ratings for media representatives they deem to be especially untrustworthy.

The anecdotal observations were later backed up by ECPMF’s large-scale study that was published last May, concluding that efforts by Germany’s far right to portray journalists as liars served as the key justification for subsequent attacks against journalists. “While the media was usually only defamed and rejected as part of the ‘lügenpresse’ before 2014, that term and its association with a more general resentment against the media became acceptable among the wider public,” the authors wrote.