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Interview politicians, “it’s like milking stones”

The Hamburg journalist Sven Michaelsen is one of the best interviewers; since 2007 for the South German.

What he has been getting out of (im) possible idols with his questions for 35 years is a pleasure – which does not mean what actor Helmut Berger did: He pulled his penis out of his pants during the conversation ..

Michaelsen compares himself to a trampoline that the stars need to jump in the air.

When working, he adheres to the principle that Robert Mitchum liked to mumble: “If you want my interest, interest me!”

Today is – again – a book that he has published that drives away dark clouds. The subtitle reads: “When famous artists hate, love and blaspheme.” Thus the book title becomes clear: “You have stepped over the bank, you trickle!”

An insulting creation by the playwright Botho Strauss.

The book is wonderful reuse of old interviews. Interlocutors include: Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Kirk Douglas, Thielemann, Handke, Neuenfels … and one delights – that’s how we are – about it: Tony Curtis wore embarrassingly tight underpants, the Monroe smelled like bed, even when she put Chanel on, Callas was a pain in the ass, Bogart put little emphasis on personal hygiene, etc.

But it is also about the very intellectual. Take Thomas Mann – his wife Katia called him “monster”.

And Adorno?

No thanks, his apartment was full of crochet doilies.

KURIER: Does it make a difference whether you interview an artist or a politician? Sven Michaelsen: Artists who deserve this name are manic seekers of truth. With them, it is enough if the interviewer takes on the role of a midwife. Interviewing politicians, on the other hand, is like milking stones. They are not interested in truth, but in opportunity and popularity.

The most devastating experience of your professional life?

… was an interview with the German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. He thinks journalists are slimy vermin and lets them feel his abysmal contempt every second. To believe that one can get over power-deformed people like him through so-called critical follow-up is a soap bubble that bursts within minutes. The credo of these people is: Why tell the truth when there is something that will get me more votes?

How do you like the interviews about the federal election on September 26th?

The cognitive value of political interviews on television is usually limited to the visual: When does the person show signs of nervousness or painstakingly suppressed anger, of triumphalism or narcissism? On German television, interviewers like Marietta Slomka are clearly superior to their male competitors.


This may be due to the fact that women who are used to rule are anxious not to be caught making a patriarchal gesture of rule.

How do you experience Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on TV?

For Germans, television interviews with Sebastian Kurz are a mixture of operetta and sophisticated Burgtheater. You are so fascinated by physiognomy … those Kafka ears! .. and an unctuous tone that you have to force yourself again and again to pay attention to what the man is saying.


Sven Michaelsen failed because of Robert DeNiro. Whatever he asked – DeNiro thought for a long time and replied, “Good question. Next question. ”Michaelsen broke off the“ Interview ”.


“You are probably over the bank
stepped in, you trickle! “
Piper Publishing House.
224 pages.
18.95 euros

COURIER rating: ****



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