(By Ray D.)
How would you expect the German media to react if two weeks of violent rioting broke-out in the United States and President George W. Bush failed to respond to the crisis for the first ten days?
Certainly, one could expect numerous articles pointing to the "social decay" of the American system and the dangers of too little "state" and too great a reliance on "free markets" and "capitalism" as was the case during the Katrina tragedy. And, without a doubt, one could absolutely expect to see the cover pages of magazines like "Der Spiegel" and "Stern" filled with the usual images of condescending Schadenfreude, accompanied by headlines such as, "America in Flames" or "Riots: The Forgotten Americans" or "Chaos in America: Social Injustice Explodes".
One could also expect, with a high degree of certainty, that the riots would be interpreted as evidence that George W. Bush is under further "massive pressure" and on the brink of failure and impeachment. The media would scream ceaselessly about the fact that Bush did not react immediately and wonder over and over and over again: "Where was the cavalry?!" Bush would again be portrayed as the purveyor of a cold, heartless and unjust political vision founded upon neo-conservative, capitalist principles that have supposedly left America devoid of "social justice". The media would further point the finger at the Bush administration and accuse it of complacency despite "having known" conditions were rife for social unrest.
But none of that happened. Why? Because the riots took place in France and the president was Jacques Chirac. Here are the cover pages from "Der Spiegel" and "Stern" during the riots:
German Magazine Covers during the French Riots: Only one cover (bottom-right) even mentioned France in a small subheadline...
Even more "conservative" magazines like "Focus" also took little if any note of the riots on their cover-pages. Why might that be? Why are the French treated with such discretion while the Americans are attacked, impugned and abused at every opportunity? Why are the same German media that so diligently seek-out scandal and disorder in the United States so content to downplay and even ignore such issues in France?
The answer to these questions is simple: Ideology. The French elites have grown to be the greatest intellectual allies of the German elites. They stand for the same model of "social democracy" and resistance to what is perceived to be "American-style" global capitalism. To criticize the failings of the French would be to criticize ones' own failings. To expose the many flaws of the French "social" system would be to expose the many flaws of the German "social" system. To overemphasize the failure of the French to integrate minorities and end discrimination in housing and the workforce would be to overemphasize the same failings in Germany. To question the viability and stability of French multiculturalism in the face of a rapidly increasing Muslim minority would be to question the same in Germany. To scrutinize the impacts of mass unemployment in Paris would be much like scrutinizing the impacts of mass unemployment in Berlin.
And so German media don't criticize, expose, overemphasize, question or scrutinize the French as they would the Americans.
And when people come to this site and ask us what we mean by "bias" in the German media, we can point to no better example than the recent lack of salacious, drooling coverage of the French riots that one could have expected with absolute certainty had they taken place in New York or Los Angeles. One need only look at the cynical, Schadenfreude-filled reaction to Katrina in the German media to erase any doubt about that.