Joerg of Atlantic Review points to another interesting snippet from German media - a picture on the front cover (top center) of Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily newspaper from Friday with the headline: "Distorted Perception?":
The caption reads: "US President George W. Bush reminded war weary Americans to hold on in Iraq. In a speech on Wednesday in Kansas City, he said that it was about an ideological struggle in the Gulf state as in the Second World War and Vietnam. The speech was met with outraged rejection by Democrats and ex-military. They declared that the only real lesson from Vietnam was that a change of course had to be immediately implemented in Iraq. (Page 5 and editorial page)"
Here - as in an earlier SPIEGEL ONLINE piece - it is clearly implied that the voices of a few ex-military (most notably John Johns) represent the broader consensus among ex-military in the United States. Predictably, the Tagesspiegel caption completely fails to mention that a heated debate is raging over Iraq (and the most recent Vietnam comparison) in which many voices - including those of Democrats, ex-military and left-of-center intellectuals - support the surge, see success as a real possibility with sustained commitment in Iraq, and reject calls for imminent withdrawal.
Unfortunately yet predictably, neither the caption above - nor the articles that accompany it - offer anything but a one-sided - (you might say "distorted") - picture of the heated debate currently underway. The paper makes little, if any, mention of support for the surge and opposition to rapid withdrawal.
As is so often the case, Tagesspiegel seems more interested in reinforcing its readership's Hate-Bush, Hate-America tendencies than offering them an honest, objective overview of the diverse political scene in the United States. This type of media coverage - all too common in Germany - furthers the perverted, biased version of reality that has deeply encrusted itself in segments of the national consciousness. Many readers live in a world where Iraq is the worst disaster in human history. Nothing - by definition - can ever go right. As a result, any attempt to explain or report progress in Iraq (thereby breaking with four years of reporting nothing but failure, death, misery and defeat) requires shock therapy (as employed by Der Spiegel - "The US Military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe.") or a continuance of total denial (until exposure to established fact makes that impossible). It seems that - for the time being - Tagesspiegel will remain on the path of total denial.
UPDATE: A commenter on Atlantic Review writes:
"This is nothing more but the violation of one of the fundamental principles of journalism in democracy: The separation of news and comment (opinion)."
Indeed. Of course this isn't the first time we've noticed this problem...
Endnote: This quote from the introduction of the book Uncouth Nation by Andrei Markovits hits the nail on the head:
"The West European media report almost nothing that they associate with America in a neutral, matter-of-fact manner. Most things engender a palpable tone of irritation, derision, annoyance, dismissal."