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If Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff shows our warts as well as our good side he's doing the job that he set out to do, journalism. That doesn't bother me at all. We need good journalists.

It's pretty pathetic that this blog has to note the cases where the German media ISN'T distorting the truth and spewing propoganda. Thankfully, Germany and its government subsidized media are relatively inconsequential to anything of global importance.

SPON is just the poster boy here. All German news publications and websites that I have seen claim in their article headers that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans. This is a flat out lie and they know it. We have seen this kind of mass media porpaganda before -- during the Nazi era.

To be fair in this instance the US Media is just as wilfull about not stickng to reality too. They are saying snooping was going on when it wasn't. This "snooping" amounts to counting cars passing a intersection and noting the license plate numbers. Not illegal by any stretch of the imagination unless you are as ignorant as most "trained journalists".

But I rate Journalists just slightly better than a Lawyers yet below that of paedophiles. Much lower humans can not get.

I was a software developer in the telecom industry for 10 years. Assuming the telecoms are turning data over to the U.S. gov't (and currently Verizon and Bell South seem to be denying it, altho' a careful reading of those denials lead me to think they may be parsing their words), let me explain what data I think is being turned over.

There is an industry designed data format that telecoms use to exchange data among them for billing purposes. It is called the CARE record - Customer Account Record Exchange. It carries data about the originating and terminating phone numbers, the date and time of the call, the number of minutes of the call (duration), the switch-path, etc. It's basically what the phone bill you get every month is built from. That's it. I've built databases from this data for marketing purposes. The customer name, address, etc., is not there because the record is built from traffic that goes over the switches. And the telecoms don't have anyone's SSN to begin with.

As far as tapping the switches directly, I would think that would be a very ineffecient way for the Feds to get this data. One record from a switch tells you very little about a complete phone call and the Feds would have to expend a lot of computing power to create whate the telecoms already have in the CARE record.

There is nothing personal about this data and it certainly is not private. Also, I would like to point out that this story was first reported on by the ever-reliable (yes, that's sarcasm) New York Times back in December. It was treated with the yawns it deserved.

@ jake
You say that the german media is subsidized.
This is the first time I hear it.
Ok, this is obviuosly true about ZDF. Did you mean something else too?
Do you have a link to back that up? (maybe it's true, I'm just curious).

Someone said here on this blog that the german car industry is also subsidized - ok, that's true for Volkswagen, as a quarter of the shares are hold by the state. But what about the other car companies? I also heard that Renault is about in the same situation. Does anyone know more about this?

And yes, this is my opinion too, that the US media is the same as in Germany, 75% left or far left oriented. But the problem with Germany is that everyone believes here that most of the US media is right/far right wing/Bush supporting

And Dave/Ray, you're doing a great job with this blog. There are people honest enough to see this and start doubting the whole ZDF/Spiegel/Stern crap. I've meet a couple of such people

i have a friend and his sister lives in us.
she maintaines that shortly after 9-11 she was afraid to talk about bush and stuff like that.
o'reilly (whom i believe to be honest, as he feels very strongly about his role of protecting the common man - which he is doing very well, I think) said that no-one told him about such thing.
Actually I suspect that the sister is a little left wing (very well known for bashing bush).

i agree with beimami.. nearly every headline i've seen has used the phrase "gespräche abgehört" or something in that vein, despite the fact that this is entirely untrue.

AND, most germans and austrians i meet (i've been living in austria for around 3 years) tend to believe that 1) the american media is of terrible quality and 2) it's totally right wing. To be sure, i've come into contact with few places with worse newspapers (as far as both quality of journalism and of writing) than austria, and furthermore there are few mainstream american papers that can match the propagandistic nature of those here.

and what to me is the most annoying: i hate defending bush. i hate it i hate it i hate it. i didn't vote for him. but i find myself defending him all the time because people who love to believe they are so well-informed about world events, and are often so mind-bogglingly ignorant it's frightening, seem to want to argue with me about things that are happening, such as the above topic.

@David and Ray
When it comes to understanding the United States, many German-speakers are indeed "mind-bogglingly ignorant" not because they are inherently unintelligent, but because they believe what they read in the German-language media to be credible, accurate and unbiased.

I'll go along with that up to a point. But in general, I've found it extremely difficult to consistently lie to people who don't want to be lied to. Especially now, with literally an entire world at the fingertips of anyone with innernut access.

@pamela

1) this assumes people really truly care if what they hear is completely balanced, with all subtleties fully explained and all analysis carefully weighed; I think this is fair to a point, but demonstrably inaccurate in the case of US coverage (in german/austrian media), which, I would assume, is the entire reason this site exists and we are having this conversation.

2) this also assumes that, should they have an itch to seek out more unbaised sources of information, they would have no problem sneaking a peak at washingtonpost.com or wherever. however,i'd say the language capabilities of even quite good english speakers in germany and austria (with certain exceptions in terms of regions) often precludes this, given the level of writing found in the best newspapers and in fact news coverage in the US. and when the two most well-known and "intellectual" (igitt) newspapers in austria say that millions of americans are being "wiretapped / listened in on", i'm guessing most will just believe it rather than go on a fact-checking mission to nytimes.com.

as long as the german-speaking world continues to get practically ZERO news from english-speaking sources (aside from the laughably dumbed down version of the ny-times in der standard, and presumably other papers as well) i'd say the german speaking media has a monopoly.

to be fair this is true almost everywhere. except scandinavia.

and another question,
who have you consistently tried to lie to?

"and in fact news coverage in the US" gehört weg. shite.

@ jwtkac: Not wishing to be too critical, but you won't find much news at NYT or WaPo either... you will however find a lot of left-wing propaganda and commentary disguised as news. In other words, kind of like news in Germany. You might want to include the Sun Times or WaTimes in your cross-check. And anything with AP wire service as a source can be immediately discounted.
They also use the same "filters" when determining what is "newsworthy" and what is not. In a nutshell, if it could possibly be interpreted as good news for the present administration or convervative thought, then it is per se not newsworthy.
@Pamela: I tend to agree with jwtkac on the "lied to" issue. I think the man in the street here in Germany just automatically assumes that what he is seeing on ARD and reading in SDZ is truthful, accurate, and unbiased. It would never occur to him in his wildest dreams that reality could differ somewhat, and only news junkies would bother to bounce things off of other news sources... assuming the language abilities are there, and in that regard I am not as pessimistic as jwtkac -- the English abilities here are not that catastrophic, especially in the younger crowd.

Slightly OT, but speaking "innuendo placed in peoples' minds by the German media", I saw the movie Downfall recently & there was a scene where Nazi 1 says to Nazi 2 (re: secret peace talks w/ Eisenhower) "When I meet Eisenhower, I don't know if I'll should shake his hand or give the Nazi salute".
Am I being "overly perceptive" or was that some "Eisenhower comparable to Nazi" innuendo?

jwtkac

You make me laugh and in a good way! One thing I read in your response is that my expectations of the foreign language comfort-level of most Germans is not what I assume it is. I can only accept your judgement on that. Perhaps my premise is based on the fact that the foreign language abilities of most Americans is truly horrid.

But I would challenge one of your apparent assumptions - that Germans read/access only mainstream media and not the blogs. In all the current bruhaha over Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I've read comments on Expactica that no one in the US knows anything about her because CNN and the NYT have run, at best, just blurbs. The entire panoply of the internet is not even considered. So, perhaps, I am conflating this American's access to English-language European sources with an equivalent access from the German/European side.

and and another question,
who have you consistently tried to lie to?

HA! No, this comes from my years in telecom (I left the industry about 3 years ago). Let's just say that a defining moment in my decision to leave was finally coming to terms that these people were neither stupid nor ignorant. They had other reasons for constructing a universe that had no basis in the numbers and when confronted with the numbers, for which I was absolutely responsible, threatened me with dismissal if I didn't change them.

I left of my own volition and am now happily self-employed with my husband. A 60% paycut, but had I stayed it would have all gone to lawyers.

Many of those people are under indictment or active prosecution.

I'm clean as a whistle, happy, and I sleep like a baby.

Wait. Just. One. Minute.

Irony Alert.

If this blog is not for the purpose of educating the German public, and the German public is not comfortable in English, why is this blog in English?

Gawd, sometimes I'm too stupid to be believed.

"I'll go along with that up to a point. But in general, I've found it extremely difficult to consistently lie to people who don't want to be lied to. Especially now, with literally an entire world at the fingertips of anyone with innernut access." (Pamela)

Hits the nail on the head. You see comments from Germans on Internet forums all the time who claim to read CNN, Foxnews, WaPo, NYT, and a host of others every day. Their opinions are still carbon copies of the MSM line. Sitting in their cognitive dissonance bubbles, they are still blithely unaware of credible opposing arguments. They believe what they want to believe, and what they want to believe harmonizes perfectly with the MSM cant. The only things they see in the English language media are items that reinforce their prejudices, and, of course, such items are not hard to find.

@scout

your comment about the nyt is spot on, but about the WP it is not. the journalism, while certainly liberal, is top notch. and furthermore, the editorial board is the most principled, reasonable editorial board of any newspaper i've read. they have, as an example, consistently and articulately defended the war in iraq (or rather the reasons for going to war in iraq), despite the overwhelming trends in "liberal" opinion - which i would argue ignores the realities before the war as much as "conservative" opinion ignores the realities during the war.

plus, i mean, george will... come on. the guy is awesome.


and, sorry, but the washington times is an embarassment. as someone having known several journalists who have worked there, the only reason they have not had a large-scale scandal as yet is because nobody cares - only republicans read this paper.

and re: language capabilities. despite how well a lot of people speak english, if i show someone a column by, say, george will (who is, incidentally, awesome) they'll generally not be able to understand it completely - even though they speak great english. whether it's because of the vocabulary, or references to other events, or what have you. by the way i think my viewpoint may be skewed by being in austria, where i think the level of english is generally lower than in germany..

in any event, for this same reason (and to shine a light on my own quite mediocre german), my failure to pick up the faz on a consistent basis has resulted in my becoming used to the garbage-writing of der standard or the salzburger nachrichten (haha, no seriously), and i'm usually equally equally screwed if i don't have a dictionary around (while reading some pieces in the faz)

but then again, that's what LEO is for.

@ pamela, awesome story. and this blog is in english because so many of the problems in the german media stem from inaccurate/misleading/utterly false translations.

@ helian i agree completely.

@neocon
The german public channels (as they are called) are not subsidized by the state. It's even worse they are funded by the state and the people living in germany. Everybody living here in germany and who is not anymore in school/college/university and owns a TV or Radio set (even if you don't use it) has to pay a monthly fee of about 17 Euros (20 US$) which is used for Public TV channels (about 15) and Radio (plenty). Additionally they get money from the state so they are completely financed by the state and people. Political partys ruling in a state have a heavy influence on the respective channels of that state as they are more or less deciding who will be in charge so neutrality is not guaranteed at all. The worst example (im my opnion) is the WDR which is so left leaning that you feel like watching a former GDR (DDR) channel

@jwtkac

"your comment about the nyt is spot on, but about the WP it is not. the journalism, while certainly liberal, is top notch. and furthermore, the editorial board is the most principled, reasonable editorial board of any newspaper i've read. they have, as an example, consistently and articulately defended the war in iraq (or rather the reasons for going to war in iraq), despite the overwhelming trends in "liberal" opinion - which i would argue ignores the realities before the war as much as "conservative" opinion ignores the realities during the war."

In general, I agree. The WaPo is a great newspaper. It has a liberal bias, but its editors have a certain sense of shame that inhibits them from completely ignoring alternative points of view in the style of the German media. This genuine concern for balance sometimes makes it seem like a war is going on within the paper itself. Take, for example, the Hirsi Ali case. Yesterday's story about the case was one of the worst cases of hack leftist bias I've ever seen in the WaPo. Just look at the headline. "Discredited" Somali!? Is that the only adjective they can come up with to describe a woman who has shown such incredible courage in her battle against Islamist fanatics? The rest of the article shows a niggling obsession with AHA's "credibility" worthy of craven Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk herself. I strongly suspect that author John Ward Anderson and others of his ilk would not pretend to such superior virtue when discussing fibs on immigration papers if they were themselves stuck in a country like Somalia and not comfortably ensconced in the offices of the WaPo. Fast forward to today, where this principled defense of AHA appears in the editorial section. We read, among other things,

"In the end, it was not appeasement of extremism that triggered Ms. Hirsi Ali's announcement but appeasement of prejudice. The Dutch immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, hopes to become her party's candidate for prime minister; she has been appealing to anti-immigrant sentiment by posing as a tough enforcer of asylum laws. On Monday she told Ms. Hirsi Ali, a member of her own party, that her passport was being revoked because she gave false information about herself when she sought refuge in the Netherlands in 1992. Ms. Hirsi Ali publicly acknowledged the misinformation years ago; she said she gave it to prevent her family and tribe from tracking her down and forcing her into an arranged marriage.

"Ms. Hirsi Ali will now come to Washington, where she has been offered a fellowship by the American Enterprise Institute and where, we hope, she will feel free to speak her mind. She leaves behind a country where a large Muslim minority lives isolated from mainstream society, in part because of social prejudice. In that isolation, extremist Islamic ideology is flourishing but goes largely unaddressed because those who seek to combat it are threatened or shunned. As long as such conditions persist in Europe, the war on terrorism cannot be won."

Try to square that journalistic circle. It's like reading two different papers.

Helian, re: AYAAN HIRSI ALI, how did I miss that one? I cannot believe that situation. It literally floored me when I read about what happened to her this week. Her, of all people.

Holland...h-e-l-l-o-o-o!

What is it with these folks?

The lights are on, but nobody's home.

@Helian
Try to square that journalistic circle. It's like reading two different papers.

That's easy. First, almost all newspapers in the U.S. have 'firewalls' between news and opinion/editorial and never the twain shall meet. During the Clinton administration, I used to get whip lash going between the news and the editorials reading the Wall Street Journal. The editorial staff, headed up by a guy who died a few years ago, actually accused Clinton of murder. Something to do with alleged drug smuggling out of an airport in Arkansas (Mena?). It was a parallel universe.


@jwtkac
but the washington times is an embarassment. as someone having known several journalists who have worked there, the only reason they have not had a large-scale scandal as yet is because nobody cares - only republicans read this paper.

Well, I can't speak to looming scandals, but I think the times is one of the best papers in the U.S. On the editorial pages there is a wide range of opinion - everything from Jack Kelly to Georgie Anne Geyer to Mark Steyn to Arnaud de Borchgrave. They cover foreign news much better than the NYT or WaPo and they were the first dead tree paper to cover the Hirsi Ali situation. And they gave the space to tell the WHOLE story, unlike today's NYT which was ludicrous. For months on the editorial page they ran a 'History Lesson' blurb that went back thru the Clinton admin that let people know conflating Iraq solely with Bush 43 is lazy if not outright dishonest.

And their Sunday book review section is, IMHO, better than either NYT or WaPo. Especially Clive Davis' Letter from London.

And I'm not a Republican.

So there.

;-)

@ScottH
The lights are on,

No, actually the lights in Europe are dimming.

Rapidly.

Peaktalk, zachtei, and LGF have covered this extensively. The comments section on Expatica have been - how shall I say - illuminating.

Even Myrtus, Morrocan-born Muslim whose family landed in the Nethterlands when she was 12 or 13 has no time for her ("a lying opportunist" is the phrase she used).

Sickening. And people wonder why Americans are so fed up with the so-called morally superior EUnichs' 'friendly critiques'.

"And I'm not a Republican."

Oh, NO! Pamela, say it's not true!

@jwtkac: All right, I will concede you George Will... and I read him separately. But on the balance I can't stomach WaPo because its news filter is set hard-over on the "Bush is Bad" setting, and stories that might contradict this premise are summarily ignored.

Actually, my patience with dead-tree journalism is almost at its end anyway. I still keep a subscription to the Rheinpfalz but only because the rest of the family reads it. David and Ray routinely take on Speigel and other print media with on-line presence, but IMHO the "public" television here is just as bad... maybe sometimes worse, since visual images can have a big impact on people. When those images are misrepresented, it is just as bad as untruthful print.

@Pamela: When I observe how well the GOP has been doing recently in upholding conservative principles, reducing the size of government, closing the border to illegal entry, implementing tort reform, and so on, then I am also loath to call myself a Republican. ;-)

So now it's starting to look like none of this ever really happened and the entire story is an NSA plant. Bellsouth is demanding a front-page retraction from USA Today; Verizon is likely to, and AT&T might do the same if it can ever get sorted out who did what before the SBC merger.

Wonder how the German media will report all this... report? What was I thinking? My bad.

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