Mathew D. Rose: First German Politicians, Now German Media in Credibility Meltdown

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Yves here. Germany appears to be a bit further along in same trajectory that America is on.

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance writer living in Berlin

Germany’s two major parties, Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the coalition Social Democrats, are plumbing new lows in popularity and credibility So too are the nation’s media. The conflation is obvious: both are increasingly perceived as two sides of the same coin, acting in the interests of financial institutions and large corporations and their own economic advantage to the detriment of the public weal.

While the Christian Democrats, despite Ms Merkel’s purported popularity, is for the first time facing the possibility of winning less than 30 percent of the vote at the next Bundestag elections, the once powerful Social Democrats are already under 20 percent in some recent polls. At this rate they could well end up behind the populist, anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD); something that occurred in two of three state elections last month.

In the past ten years the number of members of both major parties has sunk round 20 percent. In the same period the circulation of newspapers and news magazines has fallen a similar amount. Television, including state television, has allegedly lost just ten percent in the same decade. But even here the numbers are deceptive. The average age of viewers of state television is currently well over 60. When I first arrived in Germany thirty-five years ago state media (television and radio) had a monopoly. Today my children do not even know that it exists and use other media via the internet. I am surprised how many friends, colleagues and acquaintances have given up watching the evening news on state television, once an event that most Germans partook of, frustrated by its tendentious reporting.

German media’s loss of credibility was recently underscored by two recent studies. Although one was carried out by state television, which is still battling to justify a recent hike in rates, and was very favourable towards its own programme, there were a couple of rather surprising results. 60 percent of those asked were of the opinion that German news media – including state media – was not independent from political and business interests. Only ten percent saw the the media as neutral. The rest were uncertain.

The media coverage – better said propaganda campaigns – concerning austerity, the political upheaval in Ukraine and Greece bashing have become a watershed in the German public’s perception of its media. Even the advisory board of the state media group ARD heavily criticised the reporting around the events in Ukraine during and after the Maidan protests, describing it as biased, undifferentiated and fragmentary. This description would well cover the whole of reporting in German mainstream media, also in the case of Greece and austerity. Much of the coverage concerning Russia and Greece has been underlined by inveterate German racism. Many Germans, probably not most, have however moved on and are no longer receptive to this sort of manipulation.

Those who found their biases confirmed by the news media, many on the right of the German political spectrum, have been alienated by a further defamation campaign of mainstream media: against the anti-Islamic movement Pegida and the populist political party AfD. The reporting has not been critical; it has been visceral.

How odd it has been to see the second state television channel, ZDF, attacking Pegida and the AfD as neo-Nazis, but on the other hand in a moment of Eastern Front nostalgia presenting Ukrainian troops with Nazi symbols on their helmets and uniforms fighting the rebels in the east of the country. There is a great deal to criticise concerning Pegida and the AfD, but what has occurred has been counter-productive, much as the American elite discovered in its early portrayal of Donald Trump.

The second study was published by the NGO Transparency International entitled “Corruption in Journalism. In a survey three years ago 53 percent of Germans considered their journalists to be corrupt or very corrupt. In its report Transparency asked German journalists their opinion on the issue. 63 percent of those journalists queried if corruption was a problem in journalism thought this was true (from a “wholehearted yes” to a “more or less”). Then there is the difficulty in defining corruption in journalism. In Germany, in politics and the media, the term is very loosely interpreted. Even Transparency had difficulty with this aspect of their study.

One does not know where to begin, but here are a few examples of what is not considered corruption in Germany:

Many journalists work on the side as “consultants”. A recent example came to light when one of the principle political journalists at Springer’s broad sheet “Die Welt” offered to advise the AfD concerning media, of course at a very stiff fee. When the AfD declined the offer, the same journalist began writing vicious attacks against the party. He did lose his job.

Then there are the business journalists specialised in a certain corporate sectors, who are then asked by one of the companies they cover to moderate their presentation, receiving a fee, often well over their monthly salary for two hours work. One can guess what the next article looks like.

Many German political journalists’ dream is to become a generously paid press spokesperson for a federal or state minister. The best way to achieve this is by publishing obsequious reports about the minister concerned. One never knows when reading an article in a German newspaper or a report in German television or radio, if it is a news report or a job application.

German auto journalists are famous for their venality. A couple of years ago it came out that Mazda’s public relations head, who had worked previously for a number of automobile companies, had calculated a budget for bribes of at least 15,000 Euros a year per journalist. This did not disturb Mazda in the least. They first pressed charges against their PR manager when it came out that he was skimming immense sums off the top for himself and an accomplice. Mazda had apparently assumed the full amount was being used to bribe journalists. There was no investigation of the journalists involved.

There are the paid luxury travels, sumptuous gifts and meals. All of this is considered part of the job. Corruption of journalists might not be on the same financial scale as companies expend for politicians, but it is just as prevalent.

There are those German journalists who may be corruption free, but most identify themselves with the powers that be or know that their jobs are at stake should they report otherwise. They no longer see themselves as a critical authority, but as one academic explained, as pedagogues, instructing Germans what and how to think, which is simply a polite way to describe a propagandist.

The difficulties of mainstream media in Germany may solve themselves The circulation of most print media is plummeting and many will surely disappear in the next five years. It is just a question of time until someone raises the question if state media is truly worth the billions it receives. The traditional support that it enjoys at the moment is literally dying off.

With a discredited political class and press, both in the service of big money, the political foundation of Germany is crumbling. How can politicians, who for most German citizens are not credible, communicate with voters, when the media, which is supposed to disseminate their disinformation, equally lacks credibility? The political and moneyed class in Germany assume that the political system has always functioned for them and therefore will continue to do so. This may be true in the short term, but it certainly is having its problems.

The American journalist A. J. Liebling once claimed “”Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” In the case of Germany the political class owns state media and much of the rest belongs to a few conglomerates such as Springer and Bertelsmann. Their main concern is not a free press, but profit and forcing politicians to adopt policies in the interests of big business.

In Germany, the wealthy and the political class are losing control of the political discourse because they have perverted it. News media is no longer a democratic flow of ideas and opinion, but a propaganda instrument for their particular interests. Thus German media has managed to alienate a good portion of the population. It is no wonder that the nation’s post-war political system is in upheaval when the democratic consensus has been unilaterally terminated.

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  1. ger

    The propagandist, having sacrificed their brainwashing media of paper and tv, have turned their attention to taking over the last independent source of truth … the internet. Buyer beware, as you may be financing a dire future.

    1. djrichard

      There’s a reason that Jeff Bezos bought the WP and has money in It’s not because of the growth opportunity of those media outlets.

  2. Larry

    This puts cold water on my notion that a disinterested state media would serve as a counter to for profit media that works more like propaganda than news. I had assumed that journalists with safe salaries and positions would stick to their better ideals, but I suppose there is no reason to count on the goodness of anybody when there is potentially more money to be had.

    While this article is certainly damning, I do wonder if German media produces worthwhile reports and documentaries. I think of something like PBS and Frontline, which does from time to time produce excellent series. That is probably the best that one can hope for for a publicly funded media enterprise.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’m wondering where German state media gets its funding. I wondering if they accept ‘sponsorships’ like PBS does. You can’t watch PBS for 5 minutes without hearing about the Koch brothers.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        My English friend claims there is more advertising on American public TV than on British commercial TV. Not sure if that’s true or just hyperbole.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think a funded state media is a counter to a for profit media, but only if it is genuinely independent. In Japan, for example, the politicians have pretty much established full control over the mainstream news channels. In the UK, the once proudly independent BBC has, after years of outright assault by the oligarchy, become largely tamed, although it is still much better than the privately owned press. In Ireland, the state owned public broadcaster is still very much ‘establishment’, but a very important bulwark against private TV stations and newspapers which blatantly follow their owners business interests. I assume the same mixed situation is found in most countries.

      1. Nick

        State or even directly taxpayer-funded press is rarely if ever truly free. But a lot of that just has to do with general social conditioning as well. Chances are those reporters grew up in the society and went to the same schools as the other “journalists,” so, as Chomsky/Herman point out, they don’t need to be told what to say, they already know what you’re allowed to say and what you’re not allowed to say.

        In Sweden, the state-run media is technically financed through a special fee that everyone is supposed to pay like they would pay a utility bill so as to keep it truly publicly funded and thus avoid any potential conflict of interest in “biting the hand that feeds” if and when they question the state. But in reality, I think it’s quite rare that people actually pay the fee and even if they do, the government is still directly/indirectly in charge of appointing the management of the stations.

        I met a guy who made a documentary about cooperatives and economic democracy and he said that he made sure to get rid of any discussion of socialism/communism that may have come up in the film while still questioning the “free market” system, but that the state media broadcaster SVT refused to broadcast it claiming it was too “slanted.” That’s a pretty effective filter right there.

        I find that Democracy Now is a good source of news, but of course they can’t cover global stories in way that the NYT can simply due to a lack of resources.

      2. larry

        The BBC News has become very uneven. But Channel 4 News is often good, though it has its lapses. In general, Channel 4 News is better than its BBC equivalent.

  3. Nick

    I live in Sweden and it’s even worse here. I just wish these studies would ask one simple follow up question: do you think there’s an alternative, and if so, what is it? It seems that even if people get their news from online media, most of those outlets are still run by the same types of corporations that run the MSM.

    Another even bigger question that arises when reading these studies is: if more than half of the population thinks that both the political class and journalists are corrupt, then what exactly would it take for people to protest en masse and demand change?

    Convincing the population at large that there is no alternative is undoubtedly a very impressive feat by the PTB.

    1. EoinW

      People will not take to the streets to demand change until they feel they’ve no choice. Naturally the first step is they must want change. Remember citizens in the West care about convenience more than anything else. As long as things they want are handy and easy to get then they will not be motivated to want change.

      This is the divide in US politics now, as those who have slipped through the cracks or fear they are about to supporting the populous candidates. Meanwhile those whose lives are still what they want them to be either back the establishment or default to apathy. Apathy has been a major force in western democracies for decades because it’s more convenient to ignore politics than to take an active interest in politics.

      Why are matters so different in Canada, when our establishment is just as criminal as America’s? First our real estate market never crashed in 2008 and still hasn’t. Thus the exercise of replacing middle class wealth with credit is still succeeding(for now). Second, we’ve a more solid social safety net, in particular universal health care. Debt covers the cost of this and the average citizen is not faced with added expenses – like Obamacare has created for Americans. Finally, because the social system has worked so well there’s been generations of indoctrination, training Canadians to respect authority. Simply put, Canadians are not yet falling through the economic cracks like Americans are. Once their convenience becomes threatened – whether it is being able to afford the latest gadget or feeding ones family – they’ll follow where Americans are leading.

      Perhaps in Europe the social safety net keeps people from feeling it’s all falling apart personally. Certainly the EU is obviously as corrupt as Washington and even more undemocratic.

      On the bright side, our standard of living – the highest in human history – allows for much wiggle room. Relative to the past, things are still very good, even for those struggling. I don’t think Trump/Sanders supporters are living in the gutter and starving to death. But they perceive some of their peers advancing while they fall back and that’s very upsetting. Like someone yelled “fire” in the crowded theatre and all the Washington insiders rushed to the exits first while they got left behind. A European would have to be pretty dumb not to see they are being left behind while the Brussels elites live it up. Will they ever feel the need to take to the streets? That is the question.

      1. JEHR

        In Canada, we still have a fairly independent public broadcasting system in the CBC even when their government funding has been gradually reduced over the years. The new Liberal government reinstated some of the CBC’s monies. I find the local news is especially good where I live although the amount of time given to it has been cut significantly. We citizens have to keep a keen eye on what is happening with our public broadcaster as there are pressures from all quarters to get rid of it or privatize it or use it as a propaganda tool.

        I hear Deutsch Welle on radio during the night which is the German international broadcaster and they have partnered with foreign countries such as those in Africa to produce some interesting programs.

  4. drexciya

    In my experience the problem with the state media (in the Netherlands) is that most of them are striving very hard to get their point of view across. Which is of course, mostly politically correct. We’ve seen the same pro-Ukraine, anti-Putin reporting as in Germany. A pro-“refugees” (the blatant lies are just insulting) stance and demonizing anyone who’s even remotely critical of the way the “refugee” problem is handled, or what’s going on with the EU. Also noteworthy is the anti-Trump sentiment, and the complete lack of any criticism concerning Obama or Hillary.

    It’s just a variation on pay-to-play. They get their finances from the state, so the politicians have a significant influence on them. I prefer to support people outside these media institutes, who do deliver high quality reporting. Maybe that’s the future for real journalism. If enough people support independent websites, blogs, podcasts and journalism in general, we can simply leave the old media behind.

    1. EoinW

      Political correctness is a slippery slope down. What began as the Left using political correctness to end all discussions on the Culture War(which they won in the 1990s) has been transformed. Today our elites use it to define any criticism of official government policy as politically incorrect. if they say refugees are good then we can’t criticize them. If they say Russians are bad then we can’t support them.

      The battle lines are changing. We no longer have the luxury to indulge in the Left/Right culture war. It was a symbolic war which had little to no impact on most people’s lives. Does it really matter whether gays parade down main street annually? As scarcity of wealth impacts society the war will shift between the establishment who have it and the average citizens who are losing it. They’ll still throw nonsense at us, like transvestite washroom issues, to try and keep us in the old narrative and fighting amongst ourselves. If we’re dumb enough to fall for that then we deserve to finish second in this war.

  5. tongorad

    Elites: Sorry, we’re running out of money – you’re going to have to lower your expectations. But you have a duty to accept refugees, of course. Now excuse me, I’ve got a plane to catch.

  6. ke

    Funny, Hitler was a symptom, not a cause, and the last time the German regulars tried to cast off the financial hydra, their entire production was carpet bombed.

    The State knows where your assets are and hides its own, in the fog of constitutional mythology, prosecuting the victims of law, while exempting its authority, creating a competition to be the most ignorant judge, breeding sociopaths.

    Abundance must be destroyed, or the money has no perceived value. After electrical shock over millennia, few have any interest in the new(s), unless it’s the same as the old, with a new dress.

    1. TheCatSaid

      This is a very profound comment. I admit to it taking me multiple readings to get to try to get to the core of it.

      About abundance must be destroyed–that’s the perspective of controlling interests over the last millenia or more–am I understanding you correctly?

      One of the many things I’ve learned from my all-too-brief exposure to Integral Accounting concepts, is that one of the keys to maintaining (as in appropriate stewardship) any asset is that one must first recognize it and appreciate it. Furthermore, the depth of one’s appreciation and acknowledgement is like a key to unlocking greater access to deeper aspects of those assets.

      I’m using the word “asset” in a broader way than generally understood (for example, Integral Accounting uses 6 lenses for looking at value–commodity, custom & culture, knowledge, money, technology and well-being; other systems have 4 Ps, or triple bottom line accounting), and your own use of words is probably different from this. I’m trying to build a communication bridge to glean as much as I can from your comment.

      Yes, the genuinely new is often “spit out” by the surrounding culture–but that doesn’t make this response inevitable. This is one reason why I incorporate active partnership with nature in many of the things I do. It helps with groundedness and effectiveness and both local and universal balance, even in relation to the most ambitious project, irrespective of the degree of “newness”.

      1. ke

        Confessions Of An Old (bait and swap Wall Street mafia) Wizard. Take a look at his predecessor, and what happens when the system, propagated over millennia is threatened with abundance. The only thing that changes about empire is the dress. You can change your position in the empire, by selling compliance for less, or be about your business. The Nazis are low bidder; ignorance as bliss, always falling to see it coming, counting debt as money, leaving war as the only possible economy.

        1. ke

          The point of lending money into existence with an actuarial ponzi is to have the people pay for their own prison, with their children as collateral. Equal rights in the inverting fog of the U.S. Constitution means they can use your children as collateral

    2. different clue

      What financial hydra were the German regulars trying to cast off? What things did the German regulars do that were aimed at casting off this hydra?

      1. ke

        The only thing new in this iteration is a global discussion among those not normally in the discussion, which leads to questions, and once the thread is pulled…

        New World Order same as the old, with new faces.

        1. cassandra

          Meaning no disrespect, but can you interject more clarity and remove a little ambiguity? I suspect you may have something significant to say. Trouble is, there are many in MSM who write in styles similar to yours, and when I find myself ascribing more meaning than I can find explicitly, I stop taking my own interpretation seriously. Another way to put it is, I can’t take away my own take-away! Thanks

  7. TheCatSaid

    At least Germany has a parliamentary political structure which makes it far easier for alternative political voices to gain a foothold (e.g., Die Linke and the Greens).

    Nick’s suggestion that such surveys ask more follow-up questions is a good one.

    Watching non-corporate press such as The Real News Network, combined with a number of foreign mixtures of news & different propaganda (e.g. RT, Aljazeera) plus blogs like NC and Inverted Alchemy can provide more data points to make a more educated / triangulated guess as to where “reality” is, or its complex components.

    1. Nathanael

      Yep. Look at the rise of Podemos in Spain. Political change WILL happen in Germany… fairly smoothly.

      The US has a broken poltiical system which makes it way too hard for third-party voices to attain any power at all, which means we’re much more likely to have bloody war.

  8. ke

    Your greatest assets are independent thought, hand skill, and anticipatory intelligence . When in Rome, the spirit is destroyed, leaving simulated intelligence to control idle hands, replaced by a machine.

    The State narrative is the weapon.

    Don’t enter that fog of war expecting sentient human beings. If you are the exit, and you are if you think about it, the empire traps itself.

    1. TheCatSaid

      “Your greatest assets are independent thought, hand skill, and anticipatory intelligence . ” +10

      What do you mean by “When in Rome”–do you mean, the seat of an empire in any context?

      What do you mean by “that fog of war”? Do you mean any fog of war or conflict, or were you relating to something more specific?

      I appreciate your perspective and would like to understand better.

      1. ke

        When in Rome, do as the Roman robots do, for fear of losing what little remains of their humanity all the quicker. The toothpaste of natural resources is rolled up from the country to the port city for global trade, paying the middle class a cut of the debt to process those arbitrarily assigned debt before they are born.

        The real war is social compliance to peer pressure. Those who do not comply are funneled into family law, denied required credit and access to bankruptcy, and find themselves in a virtual if not physical prison. If you complain about harassment at work for example, you will find that the process victimizes you again. The whole point of cramming Hillary down people’s throat is to remind them. Black people don’t vote the way they do by accident.

        The empire produces a distribution, period. Only relative position changes, with compliance. The State confiscates 100% of my income and assets for noncompliance, though I never broken the law, but I live in the largest cash economy in the US, and unlike those around me, I can generate power with no modern technology.

        Your position relative to empire gravity depends on what trade offs work for you. For example, when you drive away from San Francisco, the first place you will find cash and civil (old meaning, consideration) behavior is Santa Rosa, the gateway between the country being liquidated and the port city.

        The time to move out has passed. Now is the time to be the plant, turning water and co2 into rocket fuel, food and O2, netting back out water. You might have noticed that minerals have been systematically filtered out and replaced by poisons.

        Even in the dark ages, some cultures flourished.

          1. ke

            That’s a physics question, which why you see all the physics and the discussion of electrical compilers. Essentially, when they talk about green energy and money, they are just talking about yet another short to yet another line of planned obsolescence, conveniently skipping past the fixation of CO2. We are getting their now.

            I let one topic sink in before going to the next, when I see the amplification take hold.

            Essentially, the empire technology is trying to bypass plants, instead of considering input, resulting in GIGO.

          2. different clue

            Here is a website selling some ways to generate electrical power with the retro-modern technology known as steam engines. If you have access to a steady supply of pine cones, corn cobs, wood, or whatever else you need to boil just enough water into just enough steam to produce just enough electricity to do the necessary things for yourself that only electricity can do, then here is a way to generate power without “digital” technology, anyway. Or other high-fashion neo-modern technologies.

            Here is the website.

          3. Nathanael

            Honestly, nothing wrong with modern technology. What do mass-produced solar panels made by 100 different fly-by-night companies have to do with “empire”?

            1. cassandra

              I fully disclose that I have never actually read Marx, but wasn’t part of his analysis that with consolidation of the means of production came not only technological efficiency and advances, but economic power as well? With such power, it’s a short hop to acquiring political power both domestically (q.v., the robber barons), as well as internationally (e.g., 1953 Arbenz/Guatamala, to name one of many). This evolution is why I’m not a libertarian, and why I think that many areas of research should be performed by institutions of a democratic government, not only to keep discoveries in the public domain (e.g., pharmaceuticals, patent trolling), but also so that the political process can provide some popular direction over large-scale ventures. The sticky wicket is maintaining this control while avoiding corruption, which is a concern I do share with libertarians, but which is an inherent problem for any democracy.

  9. Ignacio

    This is for me the most interesting part of the essay:

    In a recent poll 60 percent of those asked were of the opinion that German news media – including state media – was not independent from political and business interests. Only ten percent saw the the media as neutral. The rest were uncertain.

    The media are almost certainly less influential now that years ago. they may not have the same power to shape public opinion. Reporting and opinion in other channels is more diverse than in traditional TV or Press and migth help to increase the gap between public and published opinion.

    Yet those corrupt media migth try to compensate their loss with increasingly biased reporting and they migth no longer bother to be seen as neutral. In this way, the credibility meltdown migth just reinforce bad journalistic practices.

  10. Felix_47

    To answer one commenter you pay a yearly tax…every household is taxed and that goes to the Radio and TV stations. We need to remember that the US Government started the press and media all over in the aftermath of WW2. The goal seemed to be to abolish a free press or independent press. I assume the Americans and the British wanted a press that could be controlled so that they could mold the minds of the German people. They wanted to wipe out the German culture and Volk which they saw a evil. They wanted to mold a new Germany modelled, from my impression, on the USA. It was not just fear of a Nazi revival but it was fear of what came before Hitler and the reason we and the Catholic church supported Hitler In one degree or another…..Communism or Socialism. The German people had a long history of solidarity and revolution. The Germany people had a long tradition of worker`s rights. Don`t forget Karl Marx.
    Cultural and scientific news is OK in the main German papers. Political and economic news is rehashed New York Times in translation. Occasionally we see articles and news about the left. News about the AFD is universally negative. Let us face it. Germany is a little American colony where we can dump the economic and conflict migrants that the US does not want to take. Washington gives the orders and Merkel jumps. It is easy to build worker solidarity in a unified country. It is hard to build it in a polyglot half Arab country. The goal is to divide and conquer.

  11. ckimball

    well, I notice,
    I’m breathing more deeply
    the air is less obstructed
    I wish to copy your thoughts as
    a disturbing but reassuring poem
    a touch point to remain centered
    please accept my gratitude.

  12. ke

    If you really want to conduct an effective survey, begin by asking what the questions are. Once people start asking questions again, the problem solves itself.

      1. TheCatSaid

        In the context of a survey, it starts with what the intention or purpose of the survey is, who are the people proposing and choosing the questions (and the range and style of answers!) and who/what is meant to benefit from the results.

        In current political polls, the purpose of a poll or of the intended beneficiaries is not transparent. If one digs one can get useful information about who/what is behind a given poll and its degree of integrity. Political polls are often used more as a tool to distract or to manipulate.

        That’s very different from conducting a survey for the purpose of empowering people and giving them a role in guiding decision makers or in carrying out actual decision-making. Different frameworks are needed, starting from clear intent (and then applying methods that are in line with that intent).

    1. TheCatSaid

      While I think your comment was meant for a broader context, Peter Emerson (who has written a number of remarkable books about various methods of voting, democracy, and comparing how well they serve to reflect the will of voters) spoke of the necessity that the list choices or options which voters will rank in ranked-preference voting must be developed by the voters or a genuinely representative group.

    1. Mathew D. Rose

      Mathew here.

      Seamus, how right you are. I took it out, because I feared it would bog down the posting with too much detail. As a journalist one is always concerned that an article is readable. Anyway, here is what went out (first draft, so please excuse it being in broad brush strokes):

      One pivotal moment was as the German anti-islamic, reactionary movement Pegida and the AfD, who felt that they were being persecuted by German media, began referring to the “Lügenpresse” – the lying press. The response by the media reminded one of an old vaudeville joke: Question “Who was that women I saw you with last night in that alley?” Answer “That wasn’t an alley, that was a backstreet.” The media did not address the criticism, instead dismissing the term Lügenpresse as Nazi jargon, although the term has also been used by German political groups ranging from the Catholics in the nineteenth century to the left.

      At the same time a book appeared by a German journalist, Udo Ülfkötte, entitled “ Gekaufte Journalisten” – Bought Journalists. Ulfkötte was a journalist one would not want to touch with a bargepole. He had begun his career at the foundation of the Christian Democratic Party, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. He then went on to work as a correspondent for the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Reading his articles, one had the impression that he was also employed by the German intelligence service. Ulfkötte however transformed from Saul to Paul, resulting in his bestseller concerning corrupt journalists in Germany.

      The book was trashed by my colleagues to the point that it did not seem to be worth reading. Somehow it did land on my desk. After reading it the question for me was if I should sue the man for plagiarism. He had used much of the material from a chapter of a book I had written a couple of years before concerning how German politicians and journalists were being bought by corporations and banks. There was one difference however. While I was calling for a re-democratisation of Germany, Ulfkötte was preparing the ground for right-wing propaganda.

      1. TheCatSaid

        Wow–thank you for adding this material. The last line was an eye-opener, revealing that the CIA–through the narratives imposed on European journalists–is “preparing the ground for right-wing propaganda”. IOW, the emergence of strong right-wing is part of a higher-level agenda by USA power brokers.

        Is there a key sentence or two from the book that makes clear the intention to prepare the way for right-wing propaganda? It would be great if I could pass on a short quotation. (Or maybe this deserves a follow-up post on its own. It’s certainly significant enough.)

        It’s been admitted for decades that the CIA has people embedded in all the major media establishments–it makes sense that sometime similar would be occurring elsewhere. (Greece, anyone? EU refugees and border control, anyone?) In the UK and Irish press it’s clear that media, narratives, framing and “distractions” are tightly controlled. Thanks to your article and the new material you’ve shown, I now have a better understanding of not just some of the means used to manipulate, but of the strategic direction. Forewarned is forearmed.

  13. Plenue

    “Much of the coverage concerning Russia and Greece has been underlined by inveterate German racism.”

    Didn’t we, you know, fight a war against German racism? They were utterly crushed and for decades had their faces rubbed into a giant stinking pile of the atrocities their hate caused. And yet apparently their racism is as ubiquitous as ever. Also, the Germans fancy themselves a kind, charitable people while they can be simultaneously described as inveterate racists? Heh.

    1. Greg

      Somewhat debilitating for a critic of the billionaire class, our host seems to have fallen for one of their most important exploits:

      “Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist—just because it’s anti-human” (Chomsky)

  14. Nathanael

    Proportional representation means things will shift faster and more smoothly. Notice the rise of Podemos in Spain. Not quite in power yet, but the old parties will be dying off by the next election. In Germany, similar things will happen; maybe the Greens or Die Linke will take the government.

    In the US, our lack of proportional representation means we’re much more likely to have bloody warfare.

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