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Different Perceptions Over Time and Across the Atlantic

The conservative U.S. journalist and blogger John Rosenthal criticizes the American media and defends Chancellor Merkel and German public opinion. In TCS Daily he focuses on a comparision of President Bush's reception in Germany on his first and his latest visit, but also finds fault with the NY Times's coverage of Chancellor Merkel's statements on the Middle East.
And in his
blog he writes:
George Bush's brief "massage" of Angela Merkel's shoulders at the G-8 summit in Saint Petersburg last week has provoked a sort of fit of mass hysteria in those parts of the American media, both old and new, whose authors and editors were already the most severely afflicted by Bush-Derangement-Syndrome.
Many Americans seem to consider the German press very anti-American, in particular anti-Bush and anti-Republican. (For one of many recent examples see this comment by Eric R. Staal, chairman of Republicans Abroad Germany.)  However, the "massage" was not used for Bush-bashing and did not make big news in the German media. Some papers wrote about the international coverage and the popularity of various videos of the undiplomatic incident on Youtube. John Rosenthal writes: "The episode might have passed largely unperceived in Germany were it not for a brief front page article with large accompanying photo in the tabloid BILD" and then he translates the extremely positive article ("This political love is literally palpable!") in Germany's most popular tabloid.
President Bush probably thought Chancellor Merkel would appreciate the massage, which she clearly did not. Likewise, Bush probably thought that his comment on German TV about
seeing Merkel's soul would be considered a compliment and win some support in Germany. Hopefully, he won't be so nice and present Merkel with a pair of cowboy boots, when she gets to visit him on his ranch. ;-) That would not exactly help Merkel in Germany...


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TheHammer on :

RE: "Many Americans seem to consider the German press very anti-American, in particular anti-Bush and anti-Republican." I've always wondered how one could distinguish anti-Americanism and anti-Bushism (Republicanism, that would be me contention, has changed dramatically in recent years, which makes it hard to define). In my view valid criticism of the US is oftentimes mistaken for being anti-something when in fact people who criticize US policies have extensive experience with the US, its people and its political system. An example would be the recommendation to close Guantanamo, which many well-meaning Germans have recommended in order to boost US moral authority in the fields of human rights and justice at a time when the US has flirted with torture and world opinion is at an all times low. I suspect that anti-Americanism can be defined as invalid generalizations, cliches, stereotypes etc. of the whole country and its people. Then again most of German reporting on the US relates to specific Bush policies. I guess that some (or most of?) who take issue with the reporting, are also Bush-supporters and claim that anti-Bushism equals anti-Americanism, which then heats up the debate and stands in the way of any useful exchanges on how to deal with issues like terrorism.

JC on :

Thank you.

Anonymous on :

Republicans abroad is as paranoid as the world hates America::By Michael Medved The disease of America Hatred now has reached pandemic proportions in many corners of the globe, spreading far beyond the predictably hopeless fever swamps of Islamic militants, French intellectuals, or Latin American demagogues. In fact, many citizens within the USA itself energetically embrace the basic assumptions of America Hatred, perceiving their country as an unequivocally negative force on the world scene. The real Bush-Derangement syndrom is: American wingnuts consider everyone who does not cheerlead for Bush as anti-American, even their fellow citizens. Americans hating America - that's crazy. If Americans can hate America, then Germans can hate Germany, i.e. Davids Medienkritik's self-defense ("We are German citizens") is hollow. Calm down, mates! Don't forget your Prozac.

Don S on :

Call it MDS (for Media Derangement Syndrome) or possibly (CNNS) for CNN Nutso Syndrome, Joerg. When one has 24 hours to fill it's very easy to lose one's perspective (and one's head) completely.....

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Another example: Less protestors than expected, when President Bush visited in July 2006. During that visit Bush mentioned the pig several times at a press conference. This was criticized and ridiculed a lot in US papers and blogs, but the German media seems to have ignored this opportunity to criticize Bush, as [url=]I described in this post[/url]. Ergo: The German media isn't as anti-Bush as many conservative Americans think it is.

clarence on :

Would you like to review Der Spiegel's front pages over the past few years?? The virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic bias could not be more obvious. It just illustrates, Jorg, the simple fact that our countries do not have common values, nor common interests.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

You are right: Germany is a communist country with just one paper. All Germans read Spiegel. Nobody in Germany is allowed to read BILD or the other strongly pro-American Springer publications. Re: Spiegel, check this out: [url=,-but-not-Darfur.html]Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur?[/url]

David on :

"our countries do not have common values" I am glad that Germany does not share the "values" of the Bush administration: pre-emptive war and torture. I do envision an America where once again we can have common values with our European allies. Also, please give us some examples of the "anti-Semitic bias" of Der Spiegel.

Pinkerton on :

Hello JW! This topic is very interesting and something that I have discussed on other blogs. It seems that many Americans, for some odd reason, seem to think that any criticism of US policy is "anti-American". In my view, policy is not country. The narrow view of "you're either with us or against us" has taken hold in the US by many ultra conservatives. It seems to leave no room for diplomacy or open minded discussion. I see more hatred toward Europeans coming out of American news stations and magazine articles, than the other way around. Maybe it's easier to point the finger at our European allies and blame them for all our woes, than it is to look at ourselves and see that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Bush's policies which, IMO, has destroyed our credibility throughout the world came about because a majority of Americans who refused to look at criticism of Bush or recognize his incompetence voted him into office...twice. Not only that, but they gave him a Congress and Senate that would be a rubber stamp for his policies. Now they are seeing the result of that trust that they gave him and realizing that it is Bush who has brought about mistrust for American policies around the world. Instead of blaming themselves, however, they would rather point their fingers at Europeans...mostly Germany and France and say it is all their fault and they hate us. Childish, to say the least. It is American main stream media who, IMO, is the most responsible for this behavior. They have held back stories that were critical to Bush and his policies and have been, at the very least, irresponsible in their duties as journalists. I find it amusing that it is the bloggers, most of whom are not professional journalists, who have taken the reigns and put out information that should be on the main stream news. It is the only way to find out the real news or unreported news about what is going on, and I haven't seen any German or French bashing on the liberal blogs, exceot for the occasional comments that come from trolls from the ultra conservative bloggers. Most Americans don't read or research European news, which is understandable because the majority of Americans don't speak or read German. In fact, neither do I...that's what google translator is for! And this is also why I surf the net for European sites. I like to hear "from the horse's mouth", so to speak, what the real truth is, not American main stream media's interpretation of the truth. It's too bad more Americans weren't as curious. They may learn something. Ok, Don, now you can make your comments about us nasty liberals, don't forget to add that it's all Clinton's fault. :-D

Don on :

Ok, Pinkerton. Normally I take aim at specific targets, not entire groups such as 'liberals'. But I aim to please. 'Nasty Liberals!' There. That good enough for you? ;)

Anonymous on :

American M$M often does not seize the opportunity for Bush bashing either. On the contrary, CBS, NBC Clean Up Bush's 'Happy' Talk: "During his August 21 press conference, George W. Bush responded to a question about the Iraq War by saying that "sometimes I'm happy" about the conflict. But many readers and TV viewers never heard the remark, since journalists edited the statement to save Bush any possible embarrassment."

alec on :

I really don't think anyone misinterpreted the whole 'massage' affair. In fact, I think most people took it like I did: with a sense of humor. She freaked out after someone touched her shoulder, and that someone was George Bush (maybe he saw her soul when his icy touch caused her to spaz out). Also, didn't Bushy say he saw Putin's soul (and liked it?). On a side note, I think a certain type of person becomes 'anti-American' because of certain administrations. But most Germans I've talked to have been very happy with America in a historical context (WW2, Marshall Plan, Cold War), and can distinguish between a mistake (electing George Bush) and a complete paradigm shift in values of a whole country.

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