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Comments

How about some cursory economic sanctions? Or even maybe a visa requirement for Germans traveling to the US. I'm serious. If the US took a drastic step to publicize the propoganda being distributed by the government operated media in Germany, maybe it would shock the German public into realizing what is going on. In my private conversations with apolitical Germans, it is clear that German media is having the desired effect. Time after time I've heard the most outrageous comments made by people who have no agenda, but who think they are reflecting reality in their comments. Drastic action is needed.

Ray, I usually agree with most of what you say, and this time is no exception. However, I have to take issue with a couple of your suggestions. Nr. 1 about Blogs was spot on. Nr.2... I would leave out the word "public." The LAST thing we need on either side of the Atlantic is another government programme funded by the taxpayers that can be abused and twisted by scumbag politicians. Nr. 3: For the same reason already stated, I would put the full stop after "excursions." I don't think any amount of effort is going to break down the bias on that front... it needs to come from within. Wholeheartedly agree with the comment about a German-speaking Ambassador. Nr. 4: You have to find it first. I'm surprised you mentioned Focus. IMHO, Focus has lost its focus. It started out fine, but in the last few years it has become just plain looney.

A comparable study done in the U.S. could use the exact same title by only substituting "America" for "Europe" and be completely accurate.

Ray, David, I don't actually have a on topic comment, just wanted to congratulate you on the great job you are doing. I told a lady last week that Spiegel is as biased as possible and she was very surprised ("you want me to stop reading Spiegel!????").
It is quite easy to go with the flow and buy everything that is on TV/Spiegel/Stern. There is much to do in that area, and you are doing an amazing job. Keep it up

the most US critical media in all Europe were Germany's two largest, state-sponsored television news broadcasts

This is really funny (in a weird way), since many Germans consider ARD and ZDF to be pillars of objective journalism. You can find many Germans who would admit that there are media outlets, like some publications or TV channels, which are not "always" objective and reliable. However, finding Germans who believe the same about ARD and ZDF is much, much harder.

This is the beauty of "gleichgeschaltete Medien" - uniformity of media. It offers the ability to not only create a virtual reality, but also maintain it and constantly polish its image. It is possible because this reality is never truly challenged; challengers have no place in the system. The German public network of TV and radio channels does a commendable job; not only do they hide their bias perfectly, but they also give the German people the strong impression that they provide a tremendous service to society. The result is that Germans generally consider themselves to be very well informed.

Personally, only in America was I able to discover what true media variety means. The media landscape in Germany gives one only the impression of variety; America gives one the certitude of media variety. I believe that each country has the media it deserves.

Ray D. outlines some things America could do to (possibly) improve its image in Germany. What he fails to do is give any reasons why America should do these things.

I'm not saying there aren't any reasons, and that when and if Germany collapses into 3rd world status it won't be a bad thing for America. But it's not going to happen immediately, and there is only so much time & money to go around. The return on investment is probably better in countries like India, Japan and Australia (who have more common values with us), and China and the Middle East (who are actual threats).

I'm with Jake, don't throw good money after bad. Cut off ties where possible, negotiate tougher trade treaties, etc. That's the surest way to get the Europeans attention. And they'll drag themselves out of their mess eventually. Or not.

All of those suggestions are probably good; but, sadly so.

America considers Germany a friend and ally. Even with the differences over the Iraq war; there were no hard feelings that I saw in my country toward Germany. So, why should we need to advertise ourselves against the state run propoganda? Sad.

Ray, the four suggestions you've made are excellent, but I can't abstain from adding a small objection.

Take the subway and visit the bookstore at Pentagon station. You'll probably find the biggest collection of anti-american conspiracy literature you've ever seen. But you've hardly find any German author there, these books are almost all written by Americans. And it is a matter of fact that most of the anti-americanisms you discover in Germany relate to American sources. In other words: anti-americanism and conspiracy theories are a well established business in the United States of America themselves, and the exports of them hit new all time highs every year.

Personally, I think it's a good joke that America is smart enough to also serve those who don't like America, but I'm nearly about to call it a bias, too, when Americans are enraged about the effects these booming exports induce.

@WDIK: I agree wholeheartedly. My experience has been that you _might_ get some Germans to admit that SDZ or Spiegel aren't representing the pinnacle of unbiased, balanced journalism. However, these same people dig in their heels if you try to suggest that ARD and ZDF are no better. What really burns me up is that I have to _pay_ for this rubbish... just another of many decisions that Vater Staat has taken away from the average German. Absolutely appalling.

Increasing funding for exchange programs may be a good idea. I have hosted two CB exchange students from Germany. They were on scholarships that were jointly funded by our Congress and the German Bundestag. The problems I see with this are two-fold: First, It seems to be mostly the politically elite class who are able to receive these scholarships (both were family members of influential politicians). Great kids, but I wonder if this is really a "cross-section" of German society. Second, the typical reason for wanting to come to America has been simply to improve english skills. While this may be an honest reason, broader goals like learning about American culture would be refreshing.

@Don Miguel,

A comparable study done in the U.S. could use the exact same title by only substituting "America" for "Europe" and be completely accurate.

I think this is true - now. And perhaps since 2004 or so, when the US public began to catch on to the wave of anti-US propoganda coming from the German and French media.

The difference is that while the media on both sides of the Atlantic have become more negative since 1999, the base stattre of hostility differed. The US media tended to ignore Europe more than Europe tends to ignore the US. And the US media when it did report on European topics tended to be far more positive than the Europeans about the US.

Ray,

thank you again for making me kinda authority on American-German blog discourse ;-) (No, really.). Should work on part 3 and 4 of my "The day I woke as Pro-American" -serie, but this piece is just too interesting:
"But some readers still wonder whether there really is a larger pattern of anti-Americanism or whether we are we just "cherry picking" the negative."
I wouldn't go so far as to accuse you of cherry picking, but frankly, I think DM does exaggerate things a little.

I think I missed your postings where you've given an explanation of "anti-Americanism", so my excuses for introducing my own approach at this point:
To me, "anti-Americanism" means: "Oh, you're American? That means, your opinion is most certainly wrong. I don't wanna hear it, sucker. Good bye." But that's not the whole story; both in German media and German public opionion you can find pure hostility towards the U.S. of A. as well. The study you mentioned doesn't tell the former from the latter.

In my view, German media's "anti-Americanism" rate (MSM, blogs, you name it) is 50%, PLUS 10-20% "anti-American hostility" (note: that's only my personal feeling, without any scientific background). But that's where the rubber meets the street: Reading your blog, one might get the impression that Germans are 98% anti-American. You might say: "Fine. Where's the difference?" Well, for me, it is a difference, whether it's 4 out 5 or 5 out of 5 with anti-American resentments.

"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Welt, ARD Tagesthemen, ZDF Heute Journal,"
Hmmmm. That's quite a funny basis to draw any conclusions re German media bias. On the one hand, they left out the two strongholds of Anti-Americanism (STERN, DER SPIEGEL). Then again, I'm missing the nationwide radio stations Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandradio, I'm missing BILD-Zeitung (the most successful media outlet in Germany, with roundabout 4 Million sold copies a day and a circulation of about 10 Mio - BILD is pro-American by mission statement), and I'm missing the regional, syndicated papers, many of them conservative (true, they get their stuff from news agencies, but their commenters are often U.S.-friendly. I know what I'm talking about, since for the first 13 years of my life, the CDU-cheerleading WESTFALENPOST used to be my only news source).

The study's focus is too narrowed to provide any useful information. And that's my second point concerning DM: I really think, that you're too focused on bashing STERN and DER SPIEGEL. But that's only my humble opinion, of course.

As for your suggestions:

#1: the German blogosphere, oh my...that's a long way
#2: Yes, please. Faster, please ;-)
#3: Counter strikes? Nah. German speaking ambassador? Yes, absolutely. I still miss former Ambassador John Kornblum. I don't miss him because he was a Clinton man, but because his German is flawless. I always enjoy his appearances in German media (and no, he does not engage in Bush bashing).
#4: Agreed.


jake,

Nooooooo. On the contrary. In September last year, Victor Davis Hanson came up with five suggestions on how the U.S. should deal with Europe. I quote #2 and #5:

"Allow dissident Europeans to enjoy fast-track immigration to the United States. Welcoming folks from Europe who wish to join the American experience will send a powerful reminder to European elites that there were reasons their own people left their shores in the first place. Special warm immigration considerations for Europeans should replace the military alliances that used to knit us together."
and

"Finally, we must seek out pragmatic Europeans who are tired of business as usual, and wish to reform their union in ways that will promote American affinity. They are out there, but overwhelmed at home, and ignored by American liberals in our universities, corporations, the State Department, and elsewhere. Through government programs, think tanks, military links, shared business interests, and grass-root exchanges we must make direct connections with the many millions of Europeans who share American ideals, but have no way of expressing them on a continent dominated by a small class of haughty elites."
You can find the other three suggestions here:
http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson092705.html

Eric,

you have a point here. Germany isn't really that important to the U.S. as it used to be. But it's still important.

Thank you all for your patience and have a nice day!

Marian

P.S.: Since I didn't mention my definition of my "pro-Americanism": It's very simple: "Oh, you're American? Great. That gives you a lot credit. So, let me hear your opinion." Do you consider this a basis for...dialogue?

It strikes me as being futile for America to go on a propaganda counter-offensive. We cannot even counter our own media's relentless bias and self-loathing propaganda let alone the bile spewing in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia (did I leave anyone out?). Learn German and participate in more exchanges? Sorry, I work too long and hard as it is. I do agree that we should cut out the spending on the cultural exchange crap.

As a parent of unruly teenagers who "hated" me and ridiculed my staid, meaningless life I learned that being true to your values wins the day eventually. When they are sufficiently chastened by life's harsh lessons the world will come crawling back. I'm not advocating isolationism -- far from it. I believe we should actively engage based on our principles and simply soldier on if they don't like us. We should, however, stop sucking up to garner approval that never comes. If we suffer foreign policy defeats because the world is against us or too craven to act with us (say, with respect to Iran), we will have to live with it. Ignore their bullshit. It will hurt them far more than it does us.

"OF THOSE media analyzed, the most US critical media in all Europe were Germany's two largest, state-sponsored television news broadcasts."

If only the Republic of Ireland were ever included in any of these surveys, Americans would learn that the Irish state-run and state-sponsored media were more virilently anti-American in the weeks and months following 9/11/01 than the German media has ever been.

Please see: "Ireland's Case Against America - Irish views after September 11th":

http://www.geocities.com/irelandvus911/

Through the auspices of 'The International Fund for Ireland', the American taxpayer has gifted $500 million to Ireland since the late 1980's. (According to the pork-watchers at CAGW, the money's not even listed as 'foreign aid'.)

You know what they say, 'a fool and his money ...'


Clearly, the US should send an Ambassador to Berlin who speaks at least good, if not fully fluent, German.

I have always been a Germanophile, have spent time in Germany, kann deutsch, have had contacts in the best German society, and have studied German history. Most of that was decades ago. While I have always been aware of Germans' sometimes latent xenophobia, I must admit I have been shocked over the past few years at the breadth and depth of German anti-Americanism. I have also been more than a little taken aback at how little even educated Germans know about German history, let alone about America and the Anglo-American philosophical tradition that undergirds the United States.

I am reminded of Germanophobe Winston Churchill's observation that the Hun is either at one's feet or at one's throat.

I am not altogether sure that the US should display more understanding or be more accessable to German media or that we should go more out of our way to encourage exchange programs or the like. That's always been our approach -- encourage contacts -- and it's really gotten us nowhere.

I have also done a substantial amount of business in Japan, a country whose relations with the United States share certain characteristics with Germany's. An old Japanese hand once told me, and 20 years of experience have convinced me he was right, that every now and then when dealing with the Japanese, it was necessary to remind them who won the war. As counterintuitive as it may seem it works.

I suspect, that something similar might be in order in dealing with Germany and the Germans. We should cede Germany and the Germans no moral authority whatsoever, and whenever German journalists or politicians begin to posture about American, tell them in fliessendes deutsch just how full of shit they are.

I guess you caught on to us. Yep, we are spinning the news, in our evil world wide plan for anti american domination. Medien Tenor is also on to us, but we fight back and we are gaining!.

I am a proud member of the vast left wing media conspiracy and we will get you all!

Dude, seriously, I don't know what Roland Schatz and Medientenor is all about or why they are so successful, but they said that no one watches Tagesschau (biggest tv news in Germany, ARD) even though they have high ratings because everyone goes to the toilet and leaves the tv running. They had data from the water utility companies. This actually made big news. You should still be able to find it.

What didn't make the news all that much (because the story was not as funny) is that those statistics about water usage don't even exist.

@ UBetcha,

Wait. You mean the public television folks don't like Medien Tenor? You don't say? I'm sure the emperor didn't like the kid who said he had no clothes on very much either.

The point is not that public television does not like them. Which is not surprising. The point is that they disliked Medien Tenor so much that they took them to court ... and won. Because Medien Tenor couldn't back up all the crap they had written with facts (like the toilet story, where they "used" statistics that didn't exist) and hence were ordered not to repeat it.

But that was all in the links.

@ UBetcha,

I know that you are trying to discredit Medien Tenor and I have to ask myself: "Why?" You point to one case where Medien Tenor was taken to court and offer that in an attempt to portray all their work is invalid. Excuse me if I'm not convinced by the attempted smear job that German public broadcasting has attempted against them. If we had a dime for every time we could have taken German media to court for every slander or biased hack job against the US we would be millionaires. But unfortunately some folks are in denial and would rather shoot (and smear) the messenger than address the real problem.

A free press is free, to be stupid. Why bother with anti-US. The US is not perfect. No country is. But there would not be any freedom anywhere without the US.

RayD, I believe you should take to court the next major media outlet that slanders or libels Davids Medienkritik. Somebody's bound to over-reach in their efforts to delegitimize your work.

So, Germany has a critical media, even towards our friens in the US. I simply don`t get the problem....

Note from David: That's ok, C. Not to worry...

Don & Don,

Think you are both wrong about opinions in the US about Europe or European nations. For the most part there is little or no news about them in the media. They just do not come up as a topic of conversation. In fact, unless something awful happens, they do not come up at all.

Sad but true.

@joe,

I agree that there isn't much about Germany in the news except perhaps during the German Federal elections. Results of the elections for the German Lands are also covered of course.

In commentary there is quite a bit more though not an obsession by any means. Very little of the commentary is positive. Some of it is analytical, the remainder tends to be critical. The US left has very little to say about the German press. Uncomfortable subject for them I would guess.....

Good post, great recommendations.

(1) My recommendation would be to contact those who pay for advertisements in anti-American publication and the politicians in charge of public broadcasting. Money makes the world go round. I think for example that Spiegel does not hate America, but they learned that anti-American covers sell very well. Big companies advertise in Spiegel, but also sell products in the US and elsewhere. Those companies might be afraid to be associated with Anti-Americanism. Contact them!

(2) Medientenor writes: "In January 2006 the proportion of "anti-American" reporting rose noticeably in the most influential European media."

How do they define Anti-Americanism?

I think Medientenor is not very transparent. Why don't they publish their entire report to the public? That would increase their credibility.

Medienkritik is doing an excellent job exposing bias and Anti-Americanism in the German media.
You are specific. You present many quotes and links to the publication you accuse. You are transparent and convincing.

What does Medientenor say in the report that is only available to registered subscribers? Are they more specific?


(3) DON MIGUEL wrote:
"A comparable study done in the U.S. could use the exact same title by only substituting "America" for "Europe" and be completely accurate."

Really? Where is your evidence, Don Miguel? Or at least some examples.

Medienkritk presents several examples each week. Thus you should be able to mention a few as well.

I will probably publish them on my blog: Atlantic Review.
Thus you would honor the time you need to find some good examples.


(4) @ KUCH
You criticized the Congress and the German Bundestag exchange program as elitist. I don't think that is fair.
You hosted two kids, who said they were from had "influential politicians" in their family. I wonder who those politicians are.
1.) They could have lied or exaggerated.
2.) Drawing conclusions from your personal experience (two kids) to the entire program with thousands of participants isn't fair. There are four hundreds grantees each year.
We will soon write about the Alumni of that exchange program.

(5) I agree quite a lot with Marian Wirth's comment.

Jorg (and others), and Don Miguel correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think Don Miguel meant is that the US mainstream media is just as anti-American as German media. So, with respect to anti-Americanism, you could substitute "American" for "German" media and it would probably be applicable. I do not believe Don Miguel was trying to imply that American media is just as anti-German as German media is anti-American. I think he was trying to imply that they are both equally "anti-American."

Don Miguel, did I understand that correctly?

Scott, ah, okay. I guess, I misunderstood because it sounded too weird to me that the American media is anti-American. I guess you could then also say that the German media is anti-German.
Besides, most Germans are not patriotic and unfairly criticize their country all the time. Does that make Germans anti-German?

How do you define Anti-Americanism?
This is such a big word. It's a big charge. It suggests a hostility to all Americans and what America stands for.

So the American media is supposed to have not only a liberal bias or that they are Anti-Conservative, but you say they are Anti-American...

I think, Anti-Americanism needs to be defined.

If you are concerned that the media is against US conservatives, then it would be more specific to speak of anti-conservatism or anti-RedState-Americanism or something like that.

Otherwise you would reduce the charge of Anti-Americanism.

If you say the American media is just as anti-American as the German media is, then we could draw the conclusion that the German media is not that bad, because they do to America what American media does as well. There should not be different journalistic standards based on the nationality of the journalist.

You know what I mean?

Besides, the last time I checked, Fox News, Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, 80% of Talk Radio and many other media outlets are conservative and they are much more popular than PBS, NYT, Mother Jones, and Air America. They have x times morre readers, viewers and listeners.

Thus, I think you are not fair to the American media.

And in Germany, let's see. How popular are the two public broadcast channels compared to the private channels? How many viewers does Der Weltspiegel have compared to the many programs praising heroism of US law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies like CSI, CTU, CIS, JAG? ;-) (Unfortunately we don't get Democratic leaning The West Wing) What is the circulation of Taz compared to Bild? Okay, Spiegel and Stern have more readers (combined?) than Focus.

"Thus, I think you are not fair to the American media."

Ah, now there's an interesting notion.

Jorg, don't confuse my attempt to clarify what I thought Don Miguel said with what I, myself, may think about this whole biased media issue.

Also, here's a light-hearted post that addresses your comment about "If you say the American media is just as anti-American as the German media is, then we could draw the conclusion that the German media is not that bad, because they do to America what American media does as well."

http://expat-odyssey.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-can-say-thatyou-cant.html#links

@UBetcha

>>"The point is not that public television does not like them. Which is not surprising. The point is that they disliked Medien Tenor so much that they took them to court ... and won."

I'm surprised you're not ashamed to mention such a transparent attempt to stifle freedom of speech. It's not like the German mass media are weak little victims, with no forum to attack Medien Tenor in the marketplace of ideas. Instead they let loose their lawyer hounds to intimidate the people they "disliked." So much for "diversity" in the German media. Medienkritik has been documenting lies and distortions in the German media for a long time, Ubetcha. Remember the Spiegel lie that Medienkritik was associated with the "Freepers?" I guess that must not count in your book because David couldn't unleash a pack of corporate lawyers to sue the editors.

@Jorg

>>"Besides, the last time I checked, Fox News, Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, 80% of Talk Radio and many other media outlets are conservative and they are much more popular than PBS, NYT, Mother Jones, and Air America. They have x times morre readers, viewers and listeners. Thus, I think you are not fair to the American media.<<

There is certainly more diversity in the American media than in Germany. When people refer to the MSM in the US, they usually mean the big networks that called the shots 30 years ago, such as CBS, NBC, and ABC, and the big, liberal, dead tree media such as the NYT, LA Times, and Washington Post, whose reporting still has a significant influence on the rest of the printed media. I agree that it's inaccurate to call this rump MSM anti-American, although they certainly have a liberal bias.

However, I think it actually is accurate to describe a significant faction of the left in the US as anti-American. They have bought into the prevailing "leftist" worldview that has become so pervasive in the world since the demise of the Soviet Union. According to this worldview, the US, which is the world's one remaining superpower, is also the great evil enemy of all mankind. It is responsible for all the killing going on anywhere on the planet, is motivated only by corporate greed, its history is one long, sorry story of slavery, genocide, exploitation, oppression, etc., etc. We all know the schtick. People in the US whose tastes run in that direction don't like to feel isolated in their own country. They need to feel solidarity with their like minded "brothers and sisters" in other lands, and conform to the ideological boundaries that define their chosen worldview. Logically, if the history of the US for the last 230 years has really been nothing but genocide, exploitation, racism, etc., etc., then there must be something fundamentally flawed and evil in the US system. Clearly, something so terribly flawed, the embodiment of evil for 230 years, cannot be "reformed" by electing John Kerry. After all, the elections are rigged by the corporate bosses, the Supreme Court imposes a dictator if the rigged elections don't work, etc., etc. In a word, they are forced by the logic of their own ideas to reject the American system and call for its defeat and revolutionary overthrow. In that sense, they are most definitely anti-American. We just saw a manifestation of this the other day. A bunch of moonbats gathered in Washington with the avowed goal of "peacefully" taking over the government and handing it over to Amnesty Internation, Human Rights Watch, and similar worthy candidates.

There is an interesting discussion of this issue over at Chicago Boyz.

Scott, I know. Sorry for the confusion. "You" was meant in the plural form for whoever feels angesprochen. ;-) My statements were meant for DonMiguel and others who are so quick to use the word "Anti-Americanism". This accusation loses its power and meaning if it is used too often.

Medienkritik does NOT use the word "anti-American" very often. It seems, Medientenor, however, does. And I don't how they define it. I don't know what evidence Don Miguel has concerning the anti-Americanism in the US media and how he defines Anti-Americanism.

Regarding your link. The music was more entertaining than what he wrote. Americans are criticizing Germans in the comments here and in dozens of other conservative US blogs all the time. And that's your right and often it is useful criticism and appreciated.

That guy from your link wrote: "Well, you’ve probably read the post below in which I bash the U.S. Olympic team. You see, Americans are allowed to do that to themselves. But we have a tendency to get a little pissed when it’s a non-American doing the bashing."

Perhaps here is a difference between Americans and Germans.
Do Germans get pissed when you bash Germany? I think most would applaud you!
If you tell a German "Your national soccer team sucks", he would probably say "You are wrong, our national soccer team sucks BIGTIME." It is similar in politics, I believe. I could be wrong, however. I can't speak for all Germans, obviously.

What are your reactions, when you TALK to Germans and criticize Germany's policies?
Do they get pissed that you as an Americans dare to criticize their country?

@Jorg

>>"Perhaps here is a difference between Americans and Germans. Do Germans get pissed when you bash Germany? I think most would applaud you!
If you tell a German "Your national soccer team sucks", he would probably say "You are wrong, our national soccer team sucks BIGTIME." It is similar in politics, I believe. I could be wrong, however. I can't speak for all Germans, obviously."

This is just a re-wrapped version of the old, "objective criticism" meme. It's been debunked repeatedly here on Medienkritik. All criticism is not one. Some criticism is motivated by hatred, and some is not. It's not hard to tell the difference. There are a lot of haters in Germany today, and their hatred is directed at the US. It's not their criticism we object to, it's their mindless, irrational hatred. "Criticism" consisting of propaganda slogans, lies, smears and half truths is not constructive criticism, and it's not difficult to distinguish one from another.

@ Helian.
"This is just a re-wrapped version of the old, "objective criticism" meme."

No, it's not. You don't get my point, but that's okay. Nothing to worry.

@Jorg

Oh, I understand you well enough, dear old friend. You see, my native language is actually English. The problem isn't that I don't understand you, the problem is that you're wrong. ;-)

Don,

You must live some where that considers Germany to be important. It is obvious you do not live in the south. Germany state elections are not covered.

In fact the natioinal level election in the AJC got about 400 words with no pictures. Even the Frau Fuhrur visit with the POTUS got only 2 days coverage and it was not the lead story in "the world" section.

The best coverage of Germany is probably in the WSJ. Their editoral pages at times take a hard line with Germany but compared to the standard position used by the Germany M$M one could consider it to be positive.

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