Some of Germany’s top news networks were bamboozled over claims that a Zimbabwean inventor made a green energy invention that could power other devices without electrical cables, and could even turn a television into a “microsonic” device that could generate electricity solely from radio waves. Despite the technology not existing, the journalist repeated the claim from the inventor that “racism” was the reason the fictitious green energy solution had not spread to Europe yet.
The report, which some critics have labeled as “fake news,” was first published on ARD’s Tagesschau news service, which is the flagship of the public broadcaster. On Friday, the outlet ran what seemed to be a sensational story claiming that Zimbabwean Maxwell Chikumbutso had produced an invention that was truly groundbreaking and could be one “solution” to Germany’s current energy crisis.
The news article, from ARD correspondent in South Africa Jana Genth, was full of holes from the beginning. She claimed in her report that even though the inventor’s television could be turned off, it could still power other devices through “radio waves.”
A video where the man can be seen promoting his device can also be seen here:
The alleged inventor points out that his device converts radio waves into electricity, and showcased how his television could run even though it was not plugged in. Better yet, he claims the television powered by his device can then convert energy to be used by other devices.
“Now, the TV set is a microsonic device that generates energy. Even when the TV is off, it can power other things,” claimed Maxwell Chikumbutso, the alleged inventor.
“The television uses, in a way, free, renewable, and green energy. There are no emissions, consumption, or raw materials. It uses the radio waves and converts them,” Genth writes while quoting the African “inventor.”
She also claimed that Chikumbutso said U.S. researchers had confirmed that the invention worked, but as she later admitted on Twitter, she never made any attempt to reach out to other scientists or researchers to verify the claims made by the Zimbabwe-based inventor, instead relying entirely on the Chikumbutso’s account.
“Despite all my inquiries, I have not had any contact with scientists from the USA who, according to Maxwell Chikumbutso, should have tested and verified his alleged invention. He wants it developed, he claims. That’s how I should have phrased it in the tweet,” she wrote after the story was published.
The journalist only reacted after criticism arose on Twitter, at which point the popular Bild newspaper ran a story just two hours later criticizing the Taggeschau story, writing that Taggeschau fell for a scammer.
In fact, the taxpayer-funded German media outlet did not even need to contact any scientists to ascertain that Chikumbutso was a scam artist; a simple Google search would have revealed that he has made other outlandish claims. Just a few years ago, he said he had produced an electric car invention that does not need to be charged and could simply run on magnetic waves and radio frequencies. To date, he has provided no evidence that such an invention exists.
Chikumbutso claims “racism” was why Europe hasn’t embraced his invention
Three hours after Bild ran their story debunking the original piece, Taggeschau deleted the article without any correction or explanation. However, Deutsche Welle, another taxpayer-funded media giant, also ran an audio version of the piece.
“It sounds like part of the solution to our energy hunger,” promises the narrator of the video in an attempt to hype the invention.
Deutsche Welle even went so far as to claim the technology behind the invention is already being utilized, but provides no evidence as to how and where it is being used.
Deutsche Welle reported that the energy solution had not become widespread, hinting that racism may be the reason. It indicated that “in an interview with Jana Genth, the inventor complains that this also has to do with a large degree of racism.”
Deutsche Welle also dropped the article after a day without any comment, and no correction was issued there either. For readers of the two outlets, they may still believe that a miracle energy solution is available from Africa that is simply not being used due to racism.
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The article was published at a time that Germany is experiencing energy shortages due to gas sanctions on Russia, and inflation is eating into the country’s entire economy. As a result, the media in Germany is rife with articles about the energy crisis and potential solutions. For some journalists, a feel-good story about an African inventor who seemed to create a miraculous new form of energy generation appeared to be too tempting not to run.
Critics pointed to the gullibility and lack of journalistic standards shown at the publicly funded media outlets that ran the story. In Germany, all citizens are required to pay a media fee to support a vast state-run media empire, but in recent months, pushback has grown, especially following a massive corruption scandal that resulted in over 197,000 people signing a petition demanding the abolishment of the mandatory media fees.