That, the newspaper theorized, might be a vehicle through which the hackers release their digital booty ahead of the Sept. 24 election, which will be a referendum on Ms. Merkel, the de facto European Union leader (and, it happens, one of the strongest Continental voices for continued Russian sanctions).
Whatever the case, if the data does leak, Germany will face a test like the one America faced last fall. More specifically, the German media will face a test like the one the American media did.
I had to wonder: Will it do better than we did? And should we have done better in the first place?
The Clinton campaign, its supporters and even some in the media itself have complained since last summer that American news organizations were all too ready to make themselves the weapons of a hostile foreign power, by happily reprinting emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton adviser John Podesta, which intelligence officials say were the fruit of Russian hacking. The charge has taken on still more potency with the investigations into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. (They say they didn’t; Russia denies involvement in the hacks.)
The view has its adherents here, including the chief editor of the influential German magazine Der Spiegel, Klaus Brinkbäumer.
“I wouldn’t say the American media failed, but I actually do agree when somebody says that they’d been weaponized and used, it’s sad to say,” he told me over the telephone from his headquarters in Hamburg.
“It was out there very quickly, and very, very soon, and of course there was a plan behind it,” he said, “and I’m not sure every journalist who used this material understood what was behind it.”
Should similarly stolen emails drop into the decidedly tamer media here, Mr. Brinkbäumer told me, Der Spiegel would not use any information it couldn’t independently verify.
“We want to be not as quick as possible but as honest as possible and as sincere as possible — that means there will be no rush,” he said.
The editors at Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper, plan to go further.
“We will have a special teaser, and in the teaser we will have a banner saying ‘Hacked,’ because ‘Hacked’ is more known than ‘Leaked’ in Germany,” Julian Röpcke, the Bild political editor, told me at the paper’s offices in the headquarters of its corporate parent, Axel Springer.
“And then we will have every…