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NYT's Correspondent Mark Landler's Shrill Coverage of Germany

The New York Times' Germany correspondent Mark Landler often exaggerates and is sometimes just wrong. The latest example is his July 11 article "Debate on Terror Threat Stirs Germany," which starts with
While the British public reacted to the latest terrorist strike there with stoicism and a practiced determination to get on with their lives, Germany has erupted in a rancorous dispute over how to deal with a terrorist threat that has yet to materialize here.
I take issue with these claims:
First of all, is Landler saying that Germans are not "getting on with their lives"? He certainly gives that impression with the comparison with Britain. Hey, this fear mongering did not happen in Germany: "Americans have apparently heeded the U.S. government's advice to prepare for terror attacks, emptying hardware store shelves of duct tape," reported CNN in February 2003.
Second, the German debate about the government's counter-terrorism plans has not "erupted" after the failed terrorist strikes in Britain, but has been going on since September 11, 2001. Every Interior Secretary has been accused of overreacting and violating civil liberties. There is a healthy debate going on about the right measures. What's wrong with that? Such debates took place in Britain as well in the past.
Third, a terrorist threat has "materialized" in Germany many years ago; definitely since the deployment of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan in early 2002. In the past, many American observers, like Instapundit and Anne Applebaum claimed that Europe is denial about terrorism.

Last year Pursuit of Serenity has criticized the exaggerated article by Mark Landler "Bomb Plot Shocks Germans Into Antiterrorism Debate."

Landler has also exaggerated today's impact of unexploded World War II bombs in his article "60 Years Later, Buried Bombs Still Frighten Germans, and Kill Some." Marian Wirth, the author of Pursuit of Serenity, has criticized this article in his blog post The Germans, the War - and Bombs and added:
It's not for the first time, that I got the impression that Mr. Landler is exaggerating things and is actually drawing a picture of Germany which strucks me as... inaccurate.
Why is the New York Times coverage of Germany so shrill and portraits Germans as being "shocked" and "frightened"? Are they trying to compete with the New York Post?

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Still Deadly: World War II Bombs, Modern Cluster Bombs, Landmines and Small Arms
How Good or Bad is the US Media Coverage of Germany?


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JW-Atlantic Review on :

If Mark Landler does not like the debate about terror in Germany, why not have a look at the US. Chertoff's Upset Stomach - "Let's hope that Michael Chertoff's "gut feeling" that something bad might happen this summer is just the result of something he ate. But what has the homeland security czar been doing, besides monitoring his belly?" More: [url][/url] German government officials do not refer to their "gut feeling" in debates about terror threats. Okay, okay, the evil liberal media spins this silly comment out of proportion. Anyway, the commentary above is interesting and points out that: "If al-Qaeda had set up a phony corporation in the U.S., they could have gathered enough material to make a dirty bomb," said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

Don S on :

Emulating DMK today are we Joerg? ;)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Yep, every few months I do that. Or is it: every few weeks? You tell me. ;-) I am sure you agree that I am much softer than Medienkritik, but then again Mark Landler is not as bad as Markus Günther: [url][/url] I will write about him later. Today, I was actually tempted to suggest that Mark Landler has something in common with the Tagesspiegel's Malte Lehming beyond having the same initials. Davids Medienkritik loves Malte Lehming: [url][/url]

Axel on :

Why are you so critical, Joerg? Later in his article, Landler gets the facts almost right. So my main point of critique is that he didn't mention the public opinion in Germany in contrast to the political proposals of Schäuble. See the actual opinion poll from Forsa from Wednesday, where almost two-thirds of Germans oppose Schäuble's ideas like target killings and preventive detention of potential terror suspects: [url=,1518,493950,00.html]Mehrheit gegen Schäubles Anti-Terror-Pläne (Spiegel Online)[/url].

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Good point about the opinion poll, Axel! Thanks. "Why are you so critical, Joerg?" Because Landler and others at NYT keep doing this. "Later in his article, Landler gets the facts almost right." I know, but most readers only read headlines and the first few paragraphs.

Detlef on :

Ah, that Mark Landler. In April he wrote a piece about the German economy. "Germany’s Export-Led Economy Finds Global Niche". Mentioning that the German unemployment rate dropped to 9.8% due to the booming exports. I wrote him an email asking him why he didn´t use the international (standardized) ILO numbers but the national German numbers. Not to forget that he didn´t even mention that he was using the German numbers. I couldn´t understand it. The German national unemployment rate has a different definition than the US unemployment rate. And since the NYT is an American newspaper, read mostly by Americans (who probably don´t know that difference), the ILO number of 7.1% would have made more sense for an American audience. His answer? That the drop below double-digit numbers for the first time since 2002 was an important event for Germans. And he therefore used that number while weakly acknowledging that - yes - US readers might have been better served by using the ILO number. And that in future he should mention which numbers he´s using. Hopefully he will. Why the exaggerations in general? I can only guess... Maybe needed to get their piece published at all. If there is only limited place for foreign affairs articles, a bit of "sensationalism" might be an advantage? An article that is describing the "German debate about the government's counter-terrorism plans" since 2001 might lose against an article about - I don´t know - France, India... In some cases there might even be a bit of the "Old Europe" bias remaining?

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