Scandal-hit German TV host vanishes

Germany's most prominent television host and controversial Jewish leader has dropped out of sight following his involvement in a drugs scandal.

    Viewers watch Friedman
    'show' in disbelief

    Michel Friedman left the country after Berlin prosecutors said they were investigating him after small amounts of cocaine were found in his home and offices.

     

    Friedman, 48, is believed to be either in Italy or France, according to media reports.

     

    "He's not available," said a spokeswoman at his law office in Frankfurt. "I can't say where he is or when he will be back."

     

    Michel Friedman, a jet-setting lawyer famous for fancy suits and celebrity girlfriends, is the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and hosts a television show where he grills politicians as though they are on trial.

       

    Friedman was renowned for the programme which brought him as many enemies as fans. He has now abruptly abandoned his show.

     

    Friedman has asked the Hessiche Rundfunk public television network that broadcasts his provocative show "Watch out! Friedman!" to cancel his next four programmes and relieve him from his duties until the accusations are resolved, the network said.

     

    Arrogant

       

    Juergen Moellemann, a former economics minister who recently died in a parachute jump, had attacked Friedman's "arrogant manner". Moellemann was vilified in his party, the liberal Free Democrats, for his attack.

     

    Reacting to the  scandal,  commentators said Friedman had projected himself as someone infallible but had fallen now.

      

    As a television host, he made even the most powerful German political leaders squirm for their failings. Ironically he is now in the spotlight because of his own foibles, they said. 

     

    Stern magazine, Germany's top-selling weekly, said Friedman was someone "who has stood as a symbol for the victims" and described him as a fallen moralist. It said no one had dared attack him earlier, but now he was no longer beyond reproach.

     

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