Friday, September 14. 2007
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Friday, September 14. 2007
Davids Medienkritik is concerned about the popularity of conspiracy theories in Germany, while ignoring their popularity in the US. Ray Drake accuses the German TV station ZDF of "fuelling the conspiracy underworld" because of the results of a totally unscientific poll on the ZDF website:
The results (with over 6,000 votes registered) indicate that 65% - or nearly two-thirds - of ZDF participants blame either George W. Bush (26%), US authorities (24%) or the nebulous and ever sinister arms lobby (15%) for 9/11. By comparison, only 27% selected Osama Bin Laden as the culprit and 9% said they didn't know.
The blog author and many of his readers make a huge fuss about it in the comment section, but Fuchur has good counter-arguments. Unfortunately, his comment did not stop other blogs from spreading Davids Medienkritik's message. Vodkapundit for instance concludes "German state media: Proud sponsor of 'Truther' nonsense." And Moonbattery has learned from the Medienkritik post that the ZDF documentary "suggests that the American government was actually behind the Muslim atrocities"
One American reader informed me about the poll via email and added "With friends like this, who needs Bin-Laden?...." Thank you very much! You are a real friend.
Why are these Americans (not all Americans) sooo harsh with Germany? Don't they know that CNN had a similar totally unscientific poll. For some reason America's "Most Trusted Name in News" interviewed the actor Charlie Sheen about 9/11 and then ran an online poll asking "Do you agree with Charlie Sheen that the U.S. government covered up the real events of the 9/11 attacks?" 83% of 54.000 participants answered "Yes." Conspiracy theories are at least as popular in the United States as they are in Germany.
Davids Medienkritik is popular among (neo)conservative Republican supporters. Their main concern is not Anti-Americanism, but rather criticism of conservatives. What they consider Anti-Americanism is often just leftist ideology, which is as popular in Germany as it is in the US. Therefore they do not take into consideration, that leftist conspiracy theories are at least as important in the US as in Germany. Having said that, of course there is a lot of Anti-Americanism in Germany. And Medienkritik sometimes exposes that some German media outlets stereotype Americans as obese or stupid etc.
Davids Medienkritik often calls for more diversity of opinions in the German media, but that according to another comment by Fuchur:
To give room to these opinions [=conspiracy theories], too. Besides, how is one supposed to deal with these conspiracy theories? I don't think that ignoring them solves the problem; that's just what these people claim: The media won't talk about this, they're hiding the truth, yaddayadda. It's certainly not wrong to address these things - at least once in six years.
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Don S - #1 - 2007-09-14 14:06 -
"Most Trusted Name in News" By whom? Not me. CNN is blowing it's own horn. I could call myself the most trusted and unbiased commentator on global news - but that would not make it so, would it?
Don S - #1.1.1 - 2007-09-14 15:40 -
"Even CNN, which leads all other outlets in credibility" Bollocks. CNN doesn't lead anything in my eyes. The London Economist leads in 'credibility' in my view - with nobody in second place. Apart from them I attach credibility to certain commentators and reporters - nowhere else. I've been 'Reutered' too many times to attach trust in any other news organisation than the Economist.
influx - #184.108.40.206 - 2007-09-14 16:03 -
Don S, "in my view" being the operative phrase here, since the quote is based on a survey, and not the opinion of a single reporter. But, since you mentioned the Economist as a trustworthy source, I'd like to know your opinion on [url=http://www.economist.com/markets/rankings/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8908438]this survey[/url].
Don S - #220.127.116.11.1 - 2007-09-14 16:17 -
influx, if you followed that link you would see a few other interesting facts. 'leading' means that 28% of those surveyed finds CNN credible. The corollary is that 72% of the sample find CNN less than credible. In 1993 42% found CNN credible - quite a decline!
influx - #18.104.22.168.1.1 - 2007-09-14 16:28 -
I followed the link and saw the declining numbers, but the fact of the matter is that CNN is still leading. By a margin, maybe, but still leading. But it's interesting to see how little trust people put in any of the news sources available to them.
Don S - #22.214.171.124.1.1.1 - 2007-09-14 16:35 -
That degree of trust was well-earned, I assure you. Note that if present trends continue another news organisation will take over from CNN as 'most credible'. Or shoud I say 'least incredible'. None other than Fox News. Interesting thought, isn't that?
Don S - #2 - 2007-09-14 14:13 -
CNN is not (in my view) noticably better than any German broadcaster - except perhaps in it's timing. The anniversary of 9/11 is not a good time to run a one-sided 'documentary' lending credence to conspiracy theorists and also not the time to run an online poll like that. It looks like a boorish attempt to make a joke. I will never be amused by japes about 9/11 - but I'm particularly unamused on 9/11. No, even CNN is not stupid enough to do that, It was and is stupid, but the real stupidity is that exhibited by the actor Charlie Sheen. ZDF's boorishness and stupidity is it's own - as are those of it's viewers who voted in that insulting poll. Insult obviously intended. And taken.....
ian - #3 - 2007-09-14 14:39 -
Also still waiting for David's Medienkritik to put front and centre the Der Spiegel opinion piece which is also very critical of the ZDF program. But of course, since it doesn't fit into his agenda at all, we'll be waiting a long time. In case you missed it: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,505503,00.html
Don S - #3.1 - 2007-09-14 15:43 -
I attached that link to the opinion piece - and Mediencritik attached a link to the German-language version of the Speigel op-ed piece yesterday. So RayD wasn't exactly hiding it.
Don S - #3.1.1 - 2007-09-14 15:49 -
Pardon - I didn't mean that I attached anything to any piece. I meant to write that I attached a link the email I sent Joerg. But I didn't write that, did I? ;) Oopsie.
RayD - #3.2 - 2007-09-14 15:46 -
Uhm - I added an update just to point that article out. This is a rather lengthy post by Joerg. So I may post a resonse this weekend. I obviously don't agree with much he has written.
dan g. - #4 - 2007-09-14 15:46 -
Ian, you didn't have to wait at all. I read the Broder piece yesterday, after finding it through a link on Davids Medienkritik. Guess you don't look at the Medienkritik too closely before judging it. Jorg, I agree that there is a sometimes annoying neo-con bias at Medienkritik, but your statement that leftist ideology is "as popular in the US as it is in Germany" is blatantly false. Of course, there are different definitions of "leftist ideology", but leftism in the German media is virtually unanimous: you basically have a range from center-left to far left. There is nothing resembling American conservatism in any of its various forms in Europe. Leftists of various stripes in America make up at best 50% of the population, whereas in Europe I would put that figure around 90%.
Don S - #4.1 - 2007-09-14 15:55 -
Well there is the Daily Kos, dan. And let's not forget Moveron.com and it's full-page ad in the NY Times about 'General Betray-Us'. These people are fully as virulent as anyone in Europe, though not more so I think. It's more widespread in Europe than in the US....
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #4.2 - 2007-09-14 20:12 -
Dan, I should have been clearer that I meant the popularity of conspiracy theories and other extreme stuff. When I have more time, I will look up some opinion polls, which are more representative than those by CNN and ZDF. I am pretty sure that I read that a pretty high number of Americans believes in a 9/11 conspiracy or cover-up. Re political viewpoints in general: Americans and Europeans have more in common than conservatives think. Most Americans want health care, more spending on aid, more work with the UN, higher taxes for the rich etc.
Don S - #6 - 2007-09-14 17:25 -
I clicked on the CNN image and was sent to the CNN site - where I learned something interesting and I think relevant. At the bottom of the page below the graph was a link reading: "Send your questions and comments to "Showbiz Tonight"" Showbiz Tonight does very few news documentaries. An actresse's weird theories about New Age and the magical properties of crystals are more their speed. Charlie 'Cokehead' Sheen fits right in with that theme. This might be the news equivalent of a Bild poll asking whether Bush or Putin have bigger chest muscles.
dan g. - #7 - 2007-09-14 17:30 -
Don S., if you re-read my comment, you'll see that there was no need to "remind" me of anything. As I indicated, there is plenty of left-wing thinking in America; it's just nowhere near as prevalent as it is in Europe.
Sue - #8 - 2007-09-14 19:56 -
I'm surprised that no has mentioned that the two questions in the two polls cited are quite different. "Who was behind the attacks?" (as translated) is hardly the same as "Did the US government cover up the real events?" I completely dismiss all the "Loose Change" garbage, but I'm sure that there is classified information about the attacks that the government knows and we don't. So I'd have to be in the 83% in the CNN poll. That doesn't mean that I think Bush did it.
Pat Patterson - #8.1 - 2007-09-15 03:00 -
My apologies Sue, I must be blind. I certainly did not mean to ape your first line nor repeat the general idea of your comment. I'll claim a senior moment!
Pat Patterson - #9 - 2007-09-15 01:31 -
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the obvious difference between say CNN publishing such a poll and ZDF. CNN is part of the publicly owned TimeWarner media group that receives no subsidies from the government, whereas ZDF is a public broadcasting system that receives funds from the German states via a tv license. If I don't like an inane poll published by CNN not only can I not watch the station but I can make sure my investment portfolio does not contain any TimeWarner stock while if ZDF broadcasts some similar idiocy I can only turn off the station and Yet still be required to subsidize them through part of my tax obligations(if I was German). Also if such a poll or conspiracy theory report were offered on one of the public stations in the US it would be surprising in itself if they were not ultimately forced by the public to present either a more moderated version, an apology or even a rebuttal. Will ZDF offer the same possible choices to its viewers?
Axel - #9.1 - 2007-09-15 03:37 -
It wasn't a "conspiracy theory report", it was EXACTLY the opposite, a well-made debunking report (that's why the usual conspiracy buffs in Germany call it "stupid US propaganda" on their webpages). And this is no exception, ALL other 9/11 conspiracy TV reports from "Panorama", "Frontal 21" etc. which were broadcasted during the last years also heavily debunked these conspiracy claims. Especially Ray D.'s personal enemy, German magazine SPIEGEL with its nice covers, debunked the most important conspiracy theories again and again. So who has really watched "11. September 2001- was wirklich geschah" - hands up, please! BTW, the ZDF isn't "state-sponsored" but that's Ray D.'s typical ignorance.
RayD - #9.1.1 - 2007-09-15 06:18 -
@ Axel Of course ZDF is state-sponsored. It is a public station - not a private one. On their website they say at the very top they are Germany's national public television broadcaster. http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/31/0,1872,2007487,00.html Perhaps you don't understand the English meaning of "state-sponsored" (it doesn't necessarily mean that something is sponsored by various states or individual states (as in states of the union) - it can also mean - and usually means - that a national government supports it).
Axel - #126.96.36.199 - 2007-09-15 07:44 -
Pat Patterson - #9.1.2 - 2007-09-15 06:35 -
That's why I used the subjunctive "were" to indicate a statement or possibility contrary to the facts or not having occurred. A hypothetical in other words. Plus any station that gets a slice of public money in the form of subsidy or tv license is state-sponsored.
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #9.2 - 2007-09-15 10:09 -
@ Pat "I can make sure my investment portfolio does not contain any TimeWarner stock while if ZDF broadcasts some similar idiocy I can only turn off the station and Yet still be required to subsidize them through part of my tax obligations(if I was German)." Your point is similar to Don's who said that he does not trust CNN. I did not participate in the ZDF poll either, but get blamed for it. Point remains: If you want to blame Germans for the ZDF poll, then I will point out that millions of Americans watch CNN. And many Americans own TimeWarner stock regardless of your personal dislike of this company. After all you did not take my dislike of the ZDF poll into consideration either. A different conclusion from your above quoted paragraph: Germans can't be blamed for ZDF, because we are forced to pay the GEZ fee for ZDF and the other stations. There is a growing movement to get rid of this fee or demand better programs, but so far no impact. CNN, however, gets money directly from investors. Unlike the Germans, they are free in their decision. CNN also gets money through advertisement. The American consumer finances CNN, just like Germans finance ZDF. Even you finance CNN whenever you buy one of the advertised products. Interesting thing is: CNN often runs advertisements for Boeing and some other defense industries. The US government is their biggest customer... So the US government finances CNN.
Pat Patterson - #9.2.1 - 2007-09-15 17:48 -
But my understanding is that every time one buys a product, advertised on ZDF or not then one pays to subsidize its programming just as a part of every tv license goes to ZDF. Whether one watchs it or not. Whereas with CNN if I do not buy one of the advertised products or watch the program the pool of available advertising money shrinks, I don't think that happens with ZDF. My point are that the two networks cannot be compared fairly but that being publicly subsidized has more of an obligation to be fair not less. If they have run a 9/11 conspiracy theory report then it would be fair to ask if the network also ran a report based on the Popular Mechanics articles that completely debunked the claims. The other point I wished to make was in correcting the implication that I distrusted CNN for any reason. Actually I'm not sure any of the tv news organizations do a very good job in being accurate and unbiased. [url]http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html?page=1[/url] Yes, if one works hard enough on the sponsors of ads on private stations and even the PBS stations you will find some government contracts but the government is neither directing the money to that station or dictating how the money is to be spent. Boeing's arms sales are barely 39% of its total business. The US government is indeed Boeing's single biggest customer but the bulk of its military sales are made world wide. [url]http://www.stanford.edu/class/e297a/U.S.%20Defense%20Industry%20and%20Arms%20Sales.htm[/url]
Pat Patterson - #188.8.131.52 - 2007-09-15 22:10 -
Joerg-I missed your comment in the text referring to "blame" which I agree with. But that raises the question as to why, both Germany and the US, are saddled with subsidizing tv stations that they not only might not watch but also might bitterly resent what is broadcast. Let the market rule!
Don S - #9.2.2 - 2007-09-17 15:43 -
Joerg, There is only one publication I regularly read which has not repeatedly disappointed - the London Economist news magazine, the best english news magagine on the globe. I therefore 'trust' them until they prove unworthy of trust. Apart from that I tend to place trust on individual columnists and reporters. That is not the same as agreement. I disagree with NY Times columnist Thomas Freidman about many things, but what he writes is interesting, provocative, and worth knowing. More importantly, I have never seen Freidman attempt to manipulate his readership or play politics in any way. He writes to inform and provoke thought; I appreciate that. I also 'trust' NY Times Iraq correspondent John Burns - for many of the same reasons I do Freidman. An entire generation of Iraq 'corespondents' were corrupted by Saddam Husseins information ministry and wrote disinformation exclusively. Burns wrote the truth when he could and got away with it. Another columnist whom I 'trust' is Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post. Samuelson specialises in economic and political economy affairs. None better. I don't trust Fox, but I do appreciate them. They wear their ideological badge out front, unlike many in the US media, and to that extent do not insult the intelligence. If an organisation has to have an agenda best to have an open one, unlike Dan Rather of CBS. I preferred the openess of Mike Wallace of CBS to Rather's magesterial air of 'complete fairness', a facde which collapsed with the 'Rathergate' scandal but which had been threadbare for decades before....
Pamela - #10 - 2007-09-15 03:38 -
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #10.1 - 2007-09-15 09:53 -
"Leftist ideology is indeed anti-American." You mean Dailykos and Moveon? So... you think that leftist Americans are Anti-American? Do you also accuse some Jews of being Anti-Semitic? Re your last two paragraphs: Do you want us to be big fans of the Bush administration, because starting the Iraq war is a better idea than isolationism?? Sounds very much like a black and white thinking. You either love the US or you hate the US. Why nothing in between?
David - #10.1.1 - 2007-09-15 12:37 -
70% of Americans disapprove of Bush and his disasterous war in Iraq. The majority of Americans abhor torture. Are we all anti-American leftists? Hardly. Medienkritik is an anti-German blog. It ridicules Germany for having a free press, where journalists can express their own views on President Bush and his policies. They do not have to write "puff pieces" like the hacks at Fox News or the (Moonie) Washington Times. The fact is, most thinking journalists in Germany are critical of Bush - just like most thinking journalists in the UK, Sweden, Canada, the US, etc. Why single out the German press?
VinceTN - #10.1.1.1 - 2007-09-15 17:07 -
All American media is puff pieces. There are precious few journalists in America, just P.R. people with laptops working to promote one cause or another. At least the hacks at Fox News aren't government supported like PBS and NPR. Most "journalists" are critical of Bush. How does an honest industry manage such unity of thought? Where else can you get such a lack of diversity in outlook? Joerg, read the people of Moveon and Kos. Actually look at what they say. Not just the Bush stuff but the things they say about their own fellow citizens including the bigoted stereotypes they employ and the bitter disrespect they feel about what millions of Americans stand for and believe in. You will get a sense of them being very dissapointed and feeling that America is getting in the way of far greater realities and outcomes. The greater focus on German conspirators is that it would appear they have greater access to government policies than the anarchists/marxists in America. Our freaks have never been viewed as legitimate contributors to dialog.
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #10.1.1.1.1 - 2007-09-15 17:22 -
I will work on a longer response to many comments made here. For now I would just like to say that I don't understand what you mean by "The greater focus on German conspirators is that it would appear they have greater access to government policies." What access to government policies are you talking of? Nobody in our government believes in 9/11 conspiracy theories, let alone pursue some policies in that direction. Question for all: Why are 9/11 conspiracy theories so popular in America??? Isn't surprising? After all many of the commentators here consider the US media's coverage/reaction/attitude to 9/11 better than the German media's.
VinceTN - #10.1.1.1.1.1 - 2007-09-16 07:11 -
How did 55 million Americans consider Kerry a worthy leader for our nation? Americans are nothing if not diverse and quite loud about it most of the time. Where do most of the new age cults begin? Consipiracy theories are just a part of our country. We have no limitations. I mention access to your government policies concerning communists and other types who have always viewed America as their biggest obstacle. Your own minister Fischer was one of those. The same groups march against the Iraq war (just like yesterday) but they remain freaks on the streets. They do not get to become ministers no matter how old and fat they get. Although there are dozens of dhimmicrats in our Congress they do not make up the bulk of the Democrat party. Hence the war in Iraq will continue and 9/11 conspiracy theorists will continue being viewed for what they are.
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #10.1.1.1.1.1.1 - 2007-09-16 08:52 -
Then tell me, why did Fischer support Secretary Albright with the Kosovo war although there was no UN authorization? He went against the majority opinion in his own party. Albright always spoke highly of Fischer. She would not have done that if Fischer saw America as their "biggest obstacle." This constant nonsense talk about the German politicians on the left is really annoying. You call Fischer a communist or a similar types. The National Review labeled him a Nazi. [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/347-Fischer-as-Nazi.html[/url]
Pat Patterson - #10.1.1.1.184.108.40.206 - 2007-09-16 16:38 -
Joerg-Remember a few days ago when everybody was so surprised that you tried to make a joke that absolutely no one got the joke. I think that in this case you missed the joke as the NRO blog on various stereotypical public figures was supposed to be a humor column. The overwhelming nastiest diatribes were in the comments sections though the reference to Goebbels was indeed unfortunate I think it was intended to simply label Fischer as a propagandist not a Nazi. As an aside I do wonder how long Minister Fischer's support for Sec. Albright would have lasted if Pres. Clinton had followed her advice and Gen. Clark's and invaded Serbia with ground troops?
Kevin Sampson - #10.1.1.1.220.127.116.11 - 2007-09-16 17:55 -
"Then tell me, why did Fischer support Secretary Albright with the Kosovo war although there was no UN authorization?" Same reason the rest of Europe did too (except for Greece). They knew that if Yugoslaviea was allowed to degenerate into full-blown civil war there would be a flood of refugees headed your way in no time. Refugees that you could not turn away and still keep your liberal, ultra-humane self-image intact, but that you also could not admit because it would push your already stressed welfare societies over the edge into backruptcy.
Don S - #10.1.1.1.18.104.22.168 - 2007-09-17 19:53 -
"Then tell me, why did Fischer support Secretary Albright with the Kosovo war although there was no UN authorization?" Just possibly because the war was far more in Germanys interest than in the interest of the US? There was a howling crisis in the Balkans generating a lot of refugees who were ending up in Germany and depressing economic growth for all of Central Europe. Fischer did not 'support' Albright as much as Albright did Fischer's work for him - and he (very lukewarmly) supported that. Never again - and lay the reasons for that squarely on Schroeder and Fischer equally.
Pamela - #11 - 2007-09-15 17:02 -
Jorg, You mean Dailykos and Moveon? So... you think that leftist Americans are Anti- American? I only read OF Dailykos these days (lost interest over the 'screw them' incident), so I don't consider myself qualified to have an opinion about that site. Moveon, most certainly. And ANSWER and CodePink. As I specifically named a thinker on the left that I respect (Nick Cohen is another), making the distinction that he is an honest broker of ideas and not an ideologue, your attempt to imply that I consider leftist Americans to be anti-American is a dishonest distortion of what I wrote. Do you also accuse some Jews of being Anti-Semitic? Noam Chomsky. And Norman Finkelstein ain't far behind. Re your last two paragraphs: Do you want us to be big fans of the Bush administration, because starting the Iraq war is a better idea than isolationism?? I said nothing about the Bush administration or the war in Iraq. Neither have anything to do with the point I made which you chose to ignore - anti-Americanism is blinding much of Europe to the real danger facing western civilization - Islamofacism.
ADMIN - #12 - 2007-09-16 08:52 -
Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle of the thread right behind the comment they respond to. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear (=chronological), which enables you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.
James Versluys - #13 - 2007-09-18 03:53 -
I appreciate your wanting to always balance things out here at the Review guys, but if you'd just read Ray's site consistently you'd know that American conspiracy theories are a constant topic of interest- especially how they're reported in the German media. It's odd- you seem to pick up a lot of stories from Ray's site, but at the same time you seem to only read a few filtered types of stories. It'd help if you actually kept up with the Medienkritic blog. Also, I notice your readership seems to have the same gap in their knowledge: I didn't do any extensive reading of the comments here, but none that I saw overmatched the ignorance you displayed about David's longstanding and loquacious exasperation over the (mostly leftist, but he sometimes hit the right-wing) conspiracy theorists. You go way too far out of your way to even things out when it's Germany you're speaking about. I notice you don't have much of the opposite problem.
influx - #13.1 - 2007-09-18 09:35 -
@James Versluys Just wanted to make sure: are you the same James Versluys who, over at anglofritz, wrote: "when Der Spiegal ran ads using Nazi-era "bloodsucker" imagery for US companies"? If so, I rest my case about non-German speakers whose only news source on all things German is David's Medienkritik. It's odd, they seem to pick up a lot of stories from Ray's site, but they cannot be bothered to read anything else and end up talking about German media as if it was one monolithic block. As a result, a trade union magazine cover gets confused with an ad in Der Spiegel. But that's just nitpicking, right?
David - #13.1.1 - 2007-09-18 14:27 -
@influx, Good point. I've also noticed how many of these self-proclaimed "experts" on the German press are incapable of reading a German newspaper or magazine. They eagerly imbibe the anti-German koolaid of Medienkritik, but display an amazing lack of curiosity about Germany - its language, its culture, its people.
James Versluys - #14 - 2007-09-19 07:32 -
So your theory is that because I don't focus on German media, but instead "get [my] information" from David's Medienkritik, that I'm not a reliable source for what goes on at...David's Medienkritic? I get the feeling you're not at all interested in the actual issue, but rather in scoring some (extremely familiar) political points. One thing that never gets lost in translation is lowly transnational progressives political tactics: that you didn't even feel it necessary to engage the basic logical is perfectly instructive: why bother arguing when you can attack resume', right? It's a wonder why Americans don't take Europeans seriously.
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