De Morgen – the Belgian newspaper which this weekend sparked outrage after publishing pictures of Barack and Michelle Obama looking like apes, is owned by the wealthy Van Thillo family, and led by Duke University graduate Chrisitian Van Thillo, the firm’s CEO.
De Morgen was founded in 1978 after the merger of two socialist newspapers, the VolksGazet (People’s Gazette) and Volksruin (Forward). The PressEurop.eu website says the paper was “modelled on the French daily Libération” and “terms itself an ‘independent and progressive quality daily'”.
The paper, says PressEurope, “has rocked the Belgian press with its somewhat provocative editorial line” and is the “second-ranking quality daily in Flemish”. Its circulation as of 2011 was around 70,000 readers per day.
Its parent firm, the multi-million Euro conglomerate De Persgroep Nederland (Press Group) is owned by the wealthy Van Thillo family in Belgium. The group is regarded as one of the most “powerful” media organisations in the Flanders region of Belgium, and ranks in third place for size in the media industry in the country. De Persgroep also owns the largest daily newspaper in Belgium, Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News), founded in 1888 by liberal writer Julius Hoste Sr.
Christian Van Thillo, the CEO of Persgroep chaired the European Commission’s ‘EU Media Futures Forum’ in 2011, an entitly set up to debate “on how best to incentivize quality content and journalism while seizing the benefits of the digital revolution”. Thillo has an MBA from Duke University in North Carolina.
In 2011, De Persgroep achieved a turnover of 930 million Euros and says on its website of its newspaper arm: “The Persgroep has for decades been a leading newspaper publisher in Belgium” and describes its brands, including De Morgen, as “strong new brands that determine the social and political debate”.
The company’s CEO, Van Thillo, has described the group’s values as “passion, people, powerbrands, profit, and progress”.
Breitbart London reached out to De Persgroep for comment on the Obama image published this weekend. One member of staff would not comment, but said De Morgen itself would have to issue a statement.