(By Ray D.)
It seems that Davids Medienkritik has done it again: We've deeply upset and irritated yet another respectable member of the German media. This time it is Malte Lehming of the "Tagesspiegel," who, sadly enough, is leaving Washington, D.C. after four years as his publication's "Amerika-Korrespondent." Mr. Lehming is returning home to Germany to take-over as the chief editor of Tagesspiegel's opinion section, a part of his newspaper often confused with the news section.
In an article written to commemorate his departure from the United States, Mr. Lehming surprisingly goes out of his way to mention Davids Medienkritik. He describes our blog with a degree of charm, sarcasm and tact matched only by SPIEGEL ONLINE. The following is an excerpt:
"Or the (US) media: The ascension of the reactionary "Krawallos" began during Ronald Reagan's era. The first was Rush Limbaugh with his talk radio. He created that which one could call a populist-radical counter-society. It has made the smoky backrooms presentable. Since that time, almost all TV news programs allow themselves an arch-conservative commentator. To this day, America's right-wing determines the topics and sets the tone. The intellectual potential of even the neoconservatives is high. The liberals, by comparison, seem uninspired and uninspiring.
And speaking of media. In the USA the blogger culture is blossoming. Bloggers very often run a very strongly opinion-filled internet forum. And with that, they create an influential public alongside the traditional press. Some blogs are read more daily than some daily newspapers. Bloggers also unearth scandals. Not so long ago, they brought down CBS star moderator Dan Rather and the news chief at CNN, Eason-Jordan. In Germany there are only a few interesting blogs. One of them is "Davids Medienkritik." All those who are convinced that Bush is a super president, Guantanamo is not bad and the German media is very deeply anti-American cavort there. Meanwhile, among German USA correspondents, "Davids Medienkritik" is regarded as a form of quality control: Whoever is not beaten-up now and then for his comments there is doing something wrong."
You got us Malte-man...checkmate...you are simply too clever for us...the game is up folks: We admit it. We really are part of a vast, right-wing, "arch-conservative" conspiracy to take over the media. Our cavorting readers are really all just a bunch of "reactionary, populist-radical, counter-society Krawallos" who love torture, pray to George W. Bush five times a day kneeling towards the White House and constantly obsess about how we can collectively condemn the fair and courageous German media's coverage of the United States. It's just too bad that our paychecks from the CIA still haven't turned up yet now that we've been exposed...
Oh, one more thing: Just so that our undereducated, neo-conservative, counter-society American readers know: "Krawallo" is a slang term for a volatile, riotous trouble-maker derived from the German word "Krawall" which means "riot" or "ruckus."
Malte Lehming: Paragon of Objectivity
And since Mr. Lehming was so polite to mention us in his article, we thought we would give our readers a little sampling of one of his finer works:
by Malte Lehming
October 17, 2003
Punish the French, ignore the Germans, forgive the Russians: this was the White House's motto shortly after the Iraq War. At the time, the U.S. government was still bursting with self-confidence. Today it is more subdued. Things did not develop quite the way the administration had hoped. Resistance to the American occupiers is mounting rather than abating, the costs for reconstruction skyrocket upwards with every estimate. To sum it up in layman's terms - the situation is a total mess. Now those who opposed the war face a choice: Should they punish, ignore or forgive the Americans? Their answer is: all of the above.
The official statements sound gracious. This is necessary. They stress how important it is to forget the disagreements, bury the past, take charge of the future's problems together. This, however, is just a little bit feigned. Nothing has been forgotten. The wounds are too deep. That is why most Europeans house two souls in their hearts. One wishes fervently that the Americans would be taught a lesson in Iraq; the other fears that the situation will spin out of control. Should the U.S. troops pull out without having achieved significant improvements, leaving the country to its fate, i.e. chaos, the uproar would be deafening. No, they should kindly stay there, preferably a long time, and preferably without achieving success in the near future, as permanent proof, so to speak, of the folly of war.
Ah yes. More fine European nuance. We can see that Mr. Lehming has better transatlantic relations at heart: America should stay and fail in Iraq, lose as many troops as possible, be bled white, Iraqis must die and die and die and terror must continue to reign on indefinitely. Why? So that Mr. Lehming and other magnanimous, lucid, generous, peace-loving Europeans can tell the overbearing, arrogant Americans how really, really right they were and are. Because, after all, there is nothing more important to people like Mr. Lehming than being right, and it doesn't matter how many people have to die and suffer so long as that is the end result.
But who are we to criticize. Let's not forget: Lehming is the true centrist, we are the Krawallo, reactionary blogger extremists...
Dangerous Blogger Counter-Culture: "Krawallos 'Я US"
And now that we have been exposed as extremists by Mr. Lehming, we just wanted him to know that being labeled "Krawallos" is almost as flattering as being branded "the Conservative Click Guerilla" by SPIEGEL ONLINE in 2004. It must have been difficult for him to pack so much name-calling and innuendo into just one article. Truly a masterpiece of German campaign journalism...
Achtung: Highly Motivated Pro-US, Pro-Israeli Blogger-Krawallos in Mainz
We can see now why Tagesspiegel has decided to promote Mr. Lehming to the position of chief editor of the opinion section. Apparently, he has given them exactly the sort of coverage they expected from their "Amerika Korrespondent." His new position will certainly ensure that nothing changes at Tagesspiegel when it comes to the German media's objective coverage of the United States.
Davids Medienkritik: Cavortion Center for Reactionaries
But in closing, we have to ask ourselves: Why would Mr. Lehming bother to mention us at all? Why do we matter so much to a major editor at a large German newspaper? Why does he go out of his way to bunch us together with people he labels "reactionary Krawallos" who are part of a so-called "populist-radical counter-society"? Why does he find it necessary make such sweeping generalizations about our blog?
According to Lehming, our site is a cavortion-center (not to be confused with an abortion-center...just a clarification for all of our arch-conservative, reactionary readers) for "all those who are convinced that Bush is a super president, Guantanamo is not bad and the German media is very deeply anti-American." Yet anyone who has ever visited our site and skimmed through our lively comments section knows that we have never condoned abuses in Guantanamo or anywhere else, never said we are "convinced Bush is a super president" and never said that the entire German media is "deeply anti-American."
Let's Get Serious
So, again, we have to ask, why does Mr. Lehming go out of his way to mention (and pan) us?
Could it be that we got under his skin...maybe just a little? Could it be that what we have to say really isn't extreme at all? Could it be that our opinions have touched a raw nerve because they challenge the conventional wisdom in the German media? Could it be that Malte Lehming and his "Amerika-Korrespondent" friends hate the idea that someone else on the German media landscape could have an intelligent viewpoint that challenges theirs? Could it be they are just a little worried that blogs like ours might succeed in Germany as they have in the USA? Could it be that Mr. Lehming and his colleagues dread the thought of being called to account for writing passages on the United States such as the following?:
"No, they (the United States) should kindly stay there (in Iraq), preferably a long time, and preferably without achieving success in the near future, as permanent proof, so to speak, of the folly of war."
Could it be that Mr. Lehming is the true reactionary? Could it be that he is the true extremist?
Well, we hope we don't worry Mr. Lehming too much...(especially since he seems to have some worrisome issues with plagiarism already.) In the final analysis, our goal is to improve German journalism and to call for more fairness and objectivity in reporting. That is something we hope that all journalists have a common interest in. Hopefully though, our critics will actually address our ideas in the future instead of just trying to smear us...
(Note: Emphasis ours in all quoted passages)
Update: Just for the record - this is the original quote from Malte Lehming in German:
"Zu Ronald Reagans Zeiten begann der Aufstieg der reaktionären Krawallos. Der erste war Rush Limbaugh mit seinem Talkradio. Er schuf das, was man eine radikalpopulistische Gegenöffentlichkeit nennen kann. Sie hat den Stammtisch hoffähig gemacht. Inzwischen leisten sich fast alle TV-Nachrichtensender einen erzkonservativen Kommentator. Amerikas Rechte setzt bis heute die Themen und bestimmt den Ton. Das intellektuelle Potenzial etwa der Neokonservativen ist hoch. Die Liberalen wirken vergleichsweise uninspiriert und uninspirierend.
Apropos Medien. In den USA blüht die Blogger-Kultur. Blogger betreiben ein oft sehr meinungsstarkes Internetforum. Damit schaffen sie eine einflussreiche Öffentlichkeit neben der traditionellen Presse. Einige Blogs werden täglich mehr gelesen als manche Tageszeitung. Blogger decken auch Skandale auf. Unlängst haben sie den CBS-Starmoderator Dan Rather zu Fall gebracht und den Nachrichtenchef von CNN, Eason Jordan. In Deutschland gibt es nur wenige interessante Blogs. Einer davon ist „Davids Medienkritik“. Dort tummeln sich all jene, die überzeugt davon sind, dass Bush ein prima Präsident, Guantanamo nicht schlimm und die deutsche Presse zutiefst antiamerikanisch ist. Unter deutschen USA-Korrespondenten gilt „Davids Medienkritik“ inzwischen als eine Art Qualitätskontrolle: Wer dort nicht ab und zu für seine Kommentare verprügelt wird, macht etwas falsch."
Additionally, for those of you who missed it, Jeffrey Gedmin of the Aspen Institute recently had a scrape with Mr. Lehming as well. Looks like we are in good company...