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Tagesthemen on 9/11: Harsh Criticism Based on Lack of Understanding

The popular blog Davids Medienkritik shows a video of an Anti-Bush and Anti-American commentary in one of Germany's most respected TV news programs, including the English translation of the transcript. The bias against America and the strong dislike of President Bush speak for themselves and are obvious in commentator Christoph Luetgert's opinion, the timing (9/11 anniversary), his choice of words and even their pronunciation.
Let's just focus on one issue here: Some of the statements by commentator Christoph Luetgert could be defended, like the one that President Bush was "in effect a help in fulfilling the objectives of the terror godfather bin Laden." (Davids Medienkritik missed the words "in effect" in their transcript, but let's ignore that.)
If Luetgert's opinion on President Bush and Bin Laden had been based on a thoughtful analysis, then his statements on Bush and Bin Laden would not be Anti-Bush and Anti-American, because many U.S. experts reached a similar conclusion. However, Luetgert's uninformed opinion that "The recent Lebanon war would not have been thinkable without the Bush inspired radicalization of the Islamic world, likewise the threatening nuclear behavior of the terrible Iranian President Ahmadinejad" indicates that he does not know much about the Middle East and has not analyzed the "Islamic world." Any student of the Middle East knows that the Lebanon war and Iran's nuclear program would have been "thinkable" without any US wrongdoing. Therefore, Luetgert's criticism of President Bush and US foreign policy seems to lack a legitimate foundation. Rather it seems to be based on a lack of knowledge, lack of analysis and perhaps on anti-American and anti-Bush feelings, which could be defined as singling out the U.S. combined with unfair criticism as expressed in blaming the Lebanon war, the radicalization of the "Islamic world" and Ahmadinejad's behavior only on President Bush.

Strong criticism of the US policies in the German media is of course legitimate, but it seems that far too often strong criticism is expressed by those journalists, who have not studied U.S. policies thorougly and do not understand the complexities of the world, but nevertheless feel that they know enough to blame the United States.

Davids Medienkritik points out that the German Handelsblatt strongly criticizes Christoph Luetgert's commentary in the article: "Durchgeknalltes Weltbild" which translates roughly as "Totally Manic World View."  Handelsblatt describes the commentary as "perfidious stupidity" ("perfide Duemmlichkeit") by an "Anti-American conviction culprit" ("antiamerikanischer Ueberzeugungstaeter")
Medienkritik labeled Luetgert without any explanation as "another of the German media's Schroeder-lapdogs" although Schroeder has been out of power for almost a year. David's Medienkritik repeatedly accuses German journalists of suffering from "Bush Derangement Syndrome", while they themselves might suffer from a "Schroeder Derangement Syndrome" which does not help their reputation and in effect makes their valid criticism of the German media less credible for many Germans.


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ROA on :

I must say Angela seems to be trying to improve relations between the two countries: “Spurred by concern about China’s growing economic might, Germany is considering a plan for a free-trade zone between Europe and the US. A senior aide to Angela Merkel said the chancellor was 'interested' in promoting the idea as long as such a zone did not create 'a fortress' but rather 'a tool” to encourage free trade globally, 'which she is persuaded is a condition of Germany’s future prosperity'....'” You can put me down as someone suffering from SDS. My opinion of Germany has been permanently lowered because of him . It wasn't so much his policies, but the contempt he showed for the US.

Ralf Goergens on :

Look, a lot of conservative Americans refuse to take any responsibility for waht Clinton or Carter did, and Schröder is nothing but a bad memory, as fas as I am concerned.

Thomas on :

Although both have left politics, Medienkritik has to mention Schroeder and Fischer a couple of times every month, otherwise they would lose hundreds of their readers, who are obsessed with Schroeder and Fischer. Medienkritik appeals to Americans who can't forgive Fischer and Schroeder for being right to oppose the Iraq war instead of creating a Mess-o-Potamia. And they appeal to Americans with an authoritarian view of poltics and the media: They really think that two men are responsible for all political decisions, public opinion and the media -- even after they left office. Medienkritik will call German journalists "Schroeder's poodles" even after his death. The sad thing is that so many Americans are buying it.

David on :

@Thomas, You make a good point about Americans with an authoritarian orientation. Medienkritik embraces the authoritarian mindset that is widespread among the roughly 30% of Americans who remain loyal to President Bush. This group dreams of a one-party state where the press serves as a mouthpiece for the infallible Leader (Bush).

Don on :

"Medienkritik embraces the authoritarian mindset that is widespread among the roughly 30% of Americans who remain loyal to President Bush." What a vast sweeping generalisation, David! Have you polled or spoken to an significant number of these people with an 'authoritarian mindset'? Or are does your research consist of reading Mikey Moore's book? If that much? I mustsay that one or two of Moore's ex-employees have told tales hinting that Mikey himself may have an 'authoritarian mindset', so he may know whereof he speaks. About himself if not Bush.....

Don on :

"Medienkritik will call German journalists "Schroeder's poodles" even after his death." LOL! Do you really believe that or are you blowin' smoke? I think the latter! You may think of Schroeder as ancient history because he is 'retired' but it isn't so. 45 years after the fact I still read misinformed denunciations of the US 'murder' of Patrice Lumumba - it seems even that isn't ancient history. So how can Schroeder be?

BernieGoldberg on :

As announced today Medienkritik will thankfully decapitate itself as Mr. Poison himself a.k.a. "Ray D" is "stepping down" (didn't know that he had ever "stepped up"). That is, until he has finished his graduate degree... As for JW's proposition that Lütgert has not studied the US comprehensively, that I doubt--at least partly. The NDR is running a documentary done in part by Lütgert on "Die Bushs - Eine amerikanische Dynastie": Zweiteiliger Film von Thomas Berbner und Christoph Lütgert on "18. und 25. Oktober, jeweils 21.45 Uhr, Das Erste." Lütgert has probably not learned anything but he must have "studied" the US a fair bit... This means, of course, that his "commentary" should be worried about a bit more. Lütgert's personality remains an enigma to me, though. A search for info on his cv remained fruitless. Could it be that he is an old "Ossi" journalist with grudges against the former ideological enemy? (The NDR includes Mecklenburg-Pomerania.) Just wondering...

Fuchur on :

No question that that´s an exceedingly stupid commentary, and to air it on 9/11 was incredibly tactless. However: I do not understand why this should qualify as anti-Americanism. This is a rant against BUSH. No more, no less.

Don on :

Fuchur, I think anti-americanism is partly in the eye of the beholder. You seem to believe that a semi-pathological hate of Bush and US neocons is a fairly normal thing and doesn't rise to the level of meriting the term anti-americanism. Perhaps you also believe that one cannot be anti-american if one doesn't hate the entire country. In the extreme case this would mean that hating every american except Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore could invalidate the lable for anyone - an assertion I would consider absurd. Correct me if I am wrong. I think that some people use George Bush as a proxy for an entire group of people - including most people who vote for Bush. They admit that there are 'good' americans (presumably Kerry voters or people whom they agree with). But as most americans aren't that way I think that attitude might fairly be termed anti-americanism, depending on the degree of hate felt. Mild distaste is one thing; pathological hate quite another - whether openly expressed or not. One clue is whether there is discernable balance in the opinions expressed by such a person. Does he see some merit in the policies of the Bush administration and is on balance somewhat negative? Or does he see virtually everything Bush does as evil?

alexw on :

maybe its the other way round, we hate bush because he is, from our point of view, smirching what we like about usa...

Don on :

And what is that, alex? What is Bush besmirching? Al Gore? John Kerry? Michael Moore? I sometimes wonder whether many Europeans even begin to understand the US at all, it's history, it's traditions, the very tenets upon which it was founded?

Fuchur on :

You certainly agree with me that there is a difference between hating Bush and hating America?! To me, pathological hatred of Bush simply is pathological hatred of Bush. No need to read any more into it. The author could have said that "the Americans" are to blame, and that "the Americans" are "desastrous and unspeakable". He didn´t - and I don´t think that such an obviously anti-American commentary would have been aired at all. True, some people use Bush as a proxy; and it might even be true that Lütgert is anti-American. But here we aren´t talking about general anti-Americanism or about Mr Lütgert´s collected works - we´re talking about this one specific commentary. And I stand by what I´ve said: I don´t see any reason why this commentary should be labelled anti-American. We´ve touched upon the subject of anti-Americanism on a previous thread. I agree that Americans, too, can be anti-American. However, I think that the burden of proof increases immensely in such a case. E.g., it´s rather hard to argue that a man like Michael Moore, who explicitely states that "this is a great country", is anti-American. He himself would strongly disagree, and say that it´s your perception of what´s "American" that is wrong. And don´t forget that this sword cuts both ways: If you think that, in order to be labelled anti-American, you don´t have to hate the entire America: Would you consider Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter anti-American? After all, both express a thorough hatred against a big part of America.

Don on :

"But here we aren´t talking about general anti-Americanism or about Mr Lütgert´s collected works - we´re talking about this one specific commentary." By their fruits you will know them.... That was utter nonsense, Fuchur. Labeling a person anti-American ONLY makes sense in the context of his body of work. Any one piece can be objectionable or dead wrong but without some consistency it's hard to judge...... "And I stand by what I´ve said: I don´t see any reason why this commentary should be labelled anti-American." By that statement virtually any anti-whatever would go unscathed. "E.g., it´s rather hard to argue that a man like Michael Moore, who explicitely states that "this is a great country", is anti-American. He himself would strongly disagree, and say that it´s your perception of what´s "American" that is wrong." Moore hates everyone who doesn't agree with him 100% - that much is obvious. So he's anti-american - because he loathes at least 60% of his fellow citizens. Mikey get's his comeuppance every two years. The smartest move the Democrats could make is to pay Michale Moore - not to make his next film! Which they may have done this time. Moore has been silent for an unnaturally long time. It's either a payoff or he's sinking into the final torpor....

Olaf Petersen on :

"You see the mote which is in your brother's eye; but you do not see the beam which is in your own eye." David's Sauerkrautkritik constantly ignores the fact that the so-called bias of German big media relates to American sources in most of the cases. Lütger's opinion is uninformed? So Bush did not defeat all of Iran's rivals thus strengthening the mullah regime? Bush is not responsible for arming the Shiites in Iraq, for making Sharia the constitutional rule of law in Iraq? No? So which of the other 997 mistakes in Iraq mentioned by Condoleezza Rice is it? The criticism in the GOP over Bush's desastrous war on terrorism and his entire Greater Middle East politics grows. The bitter end will come this fall - an end that is just a beginning. But without Ray D. lol

JW-Atlantic Review on :

[b]@ Fuchur[/b] Perhaps calling the commentary "Anti-Bush" would have been sufficient. I called it "Anti-American" because he singled out US policies for his unfair criticism. President Bush is not the only one responsible for all the US policies he criticizes. Congress plays a big role. Congress authorized the Iraq war etc. However, I agree with you that one could define "Anti-Americanism" as specificly directed against the American people or culture and not just against the government policies. [b]@ Olaf[/b] Yes, Lütgert's opinion is uninformed, because the recent Lebanon war and Ahmadinejad's behavior would have been "thinkable" without the "Bush inspired radicalization of the Islamic world." Luetgert however considers that "unthinkable." Blaming only the US shows lack of understanding and Anti-Americanism, I believe. Though, we can agree to disagree. :-)

Olaf Petersen on :

@ JW Early this year Israeli sources warned that Hezbollah and Israeli hardliners as well will probably take advantage of America's neutralization as an order-keeping power in the Greater Middle East. How would Iran behave had the USA not invaded Iraq thus making themselves dependent on the goodwill of the shiites there and in Tehran? Would it have been "thinkable" that Iran (and their proxy troops in the Lebanon) so impudently play their game if they were not sure that Uncle Sam under no circumstances will provoke the Shia? Iran is the big winner of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As long as the USA are stuck in Mess-o-potamia, time is running for Tehran. No wonder Bush rules out a military option against America's arch enemy and puts his trust in the EU-3. And that would have been "unthinkable" without Bush's military adventure in Iraq.

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