Here is a list of German media's favorite "pet issues" in coverage of the United States. Very often - real news and balanced coverage are thrown out the door as German reporters dig wherever they can for stories that cast the United States (and particularly anyone in the United States not left-of-center politically) in the worst possible light.
Top pet issues include:
- Perceived American religiosity and/or prudishness.
- Perceived American obsession with guns and violence.
- The death penalty.
- The perceived excess and superficiality of American capitalism and (non)culture (i.e. fat people, the super rich, SUVs, fast-food, M-TV/hip-hop culture, Hollywood, corporate scandals, buy-outs and "excessive" profits.)
- Exaggeration of social inequality in the United States (i.e. amerikanische Verhaeltnisse, poor Americans are starving and freezing to death or at least struggling with 2-3 jobs and no health insurance while the rich live it up. Perception that America has no social safety net or a woefully inadequate social safety net.)
- Racism in America
- America as gluttonous world polluter.
- Perceived American unilateralism/exceptionalism (i.e. Iraq, Kyoto, ICC, Guantanamo)
- Perceived American "hurrah" patriotism or "hyper" patriotism (i.e. flag-waving).
- Perceived American paranoia/overreaction about terror and obsession with security and the "war" on terror and the perceived willingness of Americans to sacrifice key civil liberties (the Patriot Act has become a favored target) and take extrajudicial actions involving torture, renditions, etc.
- The perception that the Bush administration controls (or at least dominates) the media and can somehow intimidate or cow the media into following the party line. The perceived view that there is a lack of diversity of opinion in US media (because it is allegedly dominated by conservatives!) The perceived view that FoxNews, talk radio and blogs are the menacing conservative vanguard of what all US media are becoming or have already become. (i.e. US media are "gleichgeschaltet" or in lock-step with Bush and the neo-cons.)
- Anything that casts a negative light on the US military (i.e. Abu Ghraib, trials of US troops, bombings or killings of civilians real or imagined).
- Anything that casts a negative light on the Bush administration.
- Iraq is a disaster-quagmire-catastrophe-debacle perhaps unparalleled in human history. Iraq = Vietnam = defeat and humiliation for America, the US military and Bush.
- The perception of the US as an imperial hegemon out to expand its global power and military-industrial complex while using democracy as a convenient (yet false) excuse to do so. Oil = blood = Halliburton = war.
Interestingly enough - the same European elites who complain about the supposed black-white world view of the American friends themselves enthusiastically disseminate and consume a hyper-simplified view of the United States (characterized by the pet issues listed above) that largely ignores the complexity, diversity and sheer expanse of the American experience.