2022 Man of the Year: Mathias Döpfner

Mathias Döpfner, chief executive officer of Axel Springer SE and president of the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2019 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
December 28, 2022

We never thought we’d care about what happens at POLITICO, a Beltway gossip blog located many, many floors below the Washington Free Beacon. But then we learned about Mathias Döpfner.

Towering over the competition at a Glenn Youngkinesque 6 feet 7 inches, the chief executive of the German publishing house Axel Springer caused a stir when his company acquired POLITICO in 2021. The uproar came mostly due to an email Döpfner sent weeks before the 2020 election to his executive team:

"Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?"

Döpfner went on to detail all the reasons Trump was worth praying for. In fact, Döpfner said Trump was right about nearly everything important, including standing up to China and Russia, advancing peace in the Middle East, and making NATO freeloaders pay up.

And that’s not all. Unlike other rightwing German strongmen, Döpfner is staunchly pro-Israel. Following a wave of anti-Semitic riots in Germany last year, Döpfner ordered an Israeli flag be flown outside his company’s headquarters. When some of his staff objected, Döpfner let them have it:

"I’m being very frank with you: A person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job."

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the team, since Israel’s right to exist is one of the principles that Axel Springer employees must commit to in writing, along with support for a free-market economy. While he won’t make POLITICO employees sign the written agreement, he made it clear that he still expects them to adhere to the code. Wunderbar!

At this point, you’re probably thinking: "Wow, the only thing that would make Döpfner cooler would be if he owned so much nude art that he had to build a museum to hold it all!"

Boy, do we have great news for you. "While other new billionaires invest in yachts," the Washington Post wrote in a profile of the German businessman, "Döpfner built an art museum to house his collection of female nudes by female artists, said to be the world’s largest."

A take-no-prisoners, free-market Zionist with a warehouse of nudes? This is a man after our icy, neocon hearts.

Döpfner, if you ever work out of the POLITICO office and need a break from the Playbook squishes, we’d love for you to join us upstairs for a scotch and some stimulating political discussion. If they ask for your ID at the door, just tell them: I’m Mathias Döpfner, Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.