22 March 2006

Take the German MSM - Please

While we often despair at the biased coverage of the American MSM, it may be time to look at the bright side.

What is the bright side, you ask?

Well, the bright side is it could be worse. Much worse.

Take - please! - the German MSM, for example.

Today Jorg of the Atlantic Review asks Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur? (h/t David's Medienkritik).

But WAIT! Don't click on that link yet. Before you do, a warning about what you will also see on that page. There is a graphic from David's Medienkritik with a collage of covers from Der Spiegel, one of Germany's leading weekly news magazines.

If you're not used to seeing this stuff, it can be shocking.

An endless series of covers with headlines such as, "Blood for Oil: What it's really about in Iraq", "The Iraq Trap: Bush's Vietnam", "The Afghanistan Trap: America's Bombing War and the Ghost of Vietnam", "US Soldiers in Iraq: The Torturers of Baghdad", "The Helpless Global Power" (with photo of the WTC in flames and the second plane about to hit), "Operation Rambo: The US Secret Special Forces", "The Little Sheriff" with caricature of President Bush as a cowboy complete with a revolver in each hand, "USA Against Iran: The Next War?" with photo of President Bush smiling and giving the thumbs-up sign.

I mean, seriously, folks. When was the last time the name Rambo even entered your consciousness? And as to the cowboy caricature, well, that's another 80's thing. European reaction to Ronald Reagan ring a bell? You know, the guy that brought down the Iron Curtain?

And layer that on top of the old, worn out Vietnam analogy so loved by the American left. Are you feeling sorry for us conservatives (German and American) in Germany yet?

Anyway, you get the idea. Actually, that would be enough to digest for one post, but we're just getting started here.

Back to Jörg's article:

Why is the German media reporting again about the horrible Abu Ghraib pictures taken by dishonorable US soldiers, but not about the even more horrible Darfur pictures taken by an honorable former U.S. Marine?

Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine captain, was a member of the African Union team monitoring the conflict in Darfur, where he took hundreds of photographs documenting atrocities. The U.S. Holocaust Museum (sic!) published many of his pictures and his Wash Post Op-ed. Some photos serve to shock nearly as well as the Abu Ghraib photos. He is currently on tour in the US increasing awareness for Darfur.

Although Darfur is much closer to Europe than the US, the mass murder, expulsions and rapes in Darfur (some call it "genocide") seem to be covered more extensively in the US than in the German media. American NGOs devoted to Darfur are more vocal than German NGOs.
( ... )
Fabrice Weissman, head of Doctors Without Borders in West Darfur, writes:

"In these towns controlled by government forces—like garrison outposts—the living conditions, although improved, remain prison-like. The people living in these open-air jails still cannot—and do not want to—return home because of the continuing insecurity outside these sites."

So why not focus on these prisons as much as on the Abu Ghraib prison?

Why not indeed? Jorg has his theory.

And speaking of prisons, Eric Staal, press secretary of Republicans Abroad Germany, recently subjected himself to a discussion on the nationally televised German talk-show Berliner Runde (we owe you a beer, Eric).

The subject was - surprise! - Guantanamo Bay.

From his article, Gitmo Better Blues, about the experience in today's TCSDaily:

[Karsten] Voigt [the German government's coordinator for German-American relations] accused the U.S. government of violating international law by detaining members of al Qaida in Guantanamo Bay. The other guests on the program went even further. Roger Willemson, who recently published interviews with a mere five of the detainees released from Guantanamo, repeated his broadly publicized claims that as a policy the United States systematically commits acts of torture in Guantanamo.
( ... )
To his credit, Voigt eventually acknowledged that European governments consider it sufficient to prosecute the Guantanamo detainees under domestic criminal law, whereas it is U.S. policy to apply the law of war, i.e. the Geneva Conventions.

The merits of each approach are debatable - not least the consequences that Voigt is willing to see hundreds of terrorists in Guantanamo be set free. Sadly for the viewers of the Berliner Runde, after refuting all the outlandish accusations and lectures about European moral superiority, there was little time to engage in a serious exchange about what is really at stake.

And as so often when listening to the American MSM, many US politicans, and almost all Hollywood stars, you are left wondering if America needs enemies when blessed with such "friends".

Eric makes a similar conclusion about our European friends:

While it would be unrealistic to expect that European officials charged with managing relations to the United States defend policies they do not support, it should not be too much to ask for them to avoid indulging in anti-American propaganda.

No, it's not too much to ask.

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