It’s not about vaccination alone (neue-deutschland.de)

An older woman is vaccinated against corona with the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer in the vaccination center in the mon ami youth and cultural center

Photo: Michael Reichel / dpa

There was great excitement on Wednesday in the Bundestag and in many media in the last few days: How can it be that other countries are faster with their vaccination campaigns than Germany? Where does one of the world’s first approved and effective vaccines come from? When it comes to these questions, however, a lot of facts are lost, such as the still more solid form of approval within the EU or that the Biontec vaccine is also a co-production with the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

When politicians across the parties as well as the media accuse the federal government of not having ordered and secured enough vaccines early enough and too few, suddenly the appeals and projects seem to be forgotten, also across almost all parties, poorer countries and regions of the world, including top scientific achievements from vaccine research. The shouting about even more vaccines and faster, privileged procurement is unnecessary because Germany expects more vaccine doses this year than would be necessary to immunize the entire population.

The question is who needs the current drama. Are there also economic interests behind this, for example for higher revenues with accelerated delivery? Or are all those involved just kidding themselves because they don’t dare to tackle more complex problems, such as a solidarity-based restructuring of health care? In this respect, the vaccination campaign can only be hoped for a smooth and smooth course even after the initial jerkiness, which also creates the space for debates on a change of direction in health policy – in the interests of the citizens as well as the employees there.

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Social media: The twittered revolt (neue-deutschland.de)

Sometimes you can watch historical events as they arise. Sometimes, on the other hand, you are not quite so sure. But perhaps it is precisely these moments that go hand in hand with particularly significant historical upheavals. But in which category does the storming of the Capitol in Washington DC by incited Trump supporters fall last week? Seriously, of course, this cannot yet be finally decided. But thinking about it now could help to have a little more influence on the course of history in the future.

First of all, however, you have to realize that this campaign was announced for a long time. Ever since Donald Trump called on the right-wing extremist group “Proud Boys” to be ready in September, such events had to be expected. It is all the more astonishing that this “Citadel of Freedom,” as Joe Biden called the Capitol on the occasion of the riots, was not better secured. There are also extremely disturbing images that do not necessarily suggest that all parts of the Capitol Police, which is responsible for securing the US American Parliament, strongly oppose the protests. That looked very different during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

What is actually astonishing, however, is that this potentially extremely dangerous, at least passive interaction of a highly sensitive security organ with an alleged political opposition did not lead to serious attempts to take power, but instead took the smartphone out of your pocket to take selfies.

This uprising seemed to have got stuck somewhere between the Nazi demo and the Insta story, between the night of a riot, fan tourism and adventure camp, between a coup attempt and a costume party. As a result, this epitome of the political-revolutionary act, the storming of parliament, appears strangely depoliticized and pseudo-revolutionary at the same time. When, once at the heart of power, it doesn’t seem to be about the – laborious and deadly boring – actually taking over and exercising this power, but basically just about disturbing it, rioting a bit, getting your feet off the ground To lay the table and thereby express his rebellious displeasure – or just to dress up funny and look a bit.

It is interesting to compare this with the whole series of real political protests in which social media organization has played an important role, from the Arab Spring to the Indignados in Spain to the Turkish Gezi Park protests. Here social media were only a means to a political end, a media aid to the end of political organization.

In the Trump revolt, on the other hand, in keeping with the nature of its leader, social media are both a means and an end in themselves. This movement is so trumpistically twittered that in some cases it may no longer have any meaningful idea of ​​a real political purpose – apart from damaging or even destroying the existing political institutions, but more through blatant neglect than through targeted attack. Just so that there are no misunderstandings: This form of uprising, these apolitical-political actions, is also highly dangerous for democracy. But it is probably in a different way than most of us currently imagine.

On the one hand, it is pretty much in line with the strategy of the so-called New Right, no longer portraying itself as a pure thug group, but above all as a hip youth movement. In this case, that means using just as much violence as is necessary to get a few – or better still a huge pile – ultra-cool pictures. The millionfold distribution of these images in the new and old media then suggests that we are actually dealing with a relevant movement and not just a few crazy heads. Until the movement really starts to grow. How successful this strategy has been so far is shown not least by the fact that, according to various surveys, far too many voters in the USA still believe Trump’s lies about electoral fraud, even among the Democrats.

With this explosive mixture of new right strategists with all sorts of contaminated groups and angry citizens, here as elsewhere, we are dealing with a largely repressed form of the middle of society (even if fortunately – yet – it is by no means forming the majority) Composed of very different social classes and milieus and for their formation and mobilization the alternative reality of social media plays a decisive role. The example of Trump only shows in an emblematic way how much Twitter and Facebook, for example, have long benefited enormously from the spirals of outrage that they and their algorithms themselves have brought about.

What is remarkable, of course, is that the platforms that made Trump and his movement not only great, but actually possible in the first place, have now tried to render harmless the monster they created, i.e. Trump’s user accounts to lock. This is not only astonishing because big platform bosses – such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – now not only have to admit more or less frankly that their influence has long been equal to that of states and governments. Now it turns out that in times of a national “emergency” (according to Facebook vice Guy Rosen on the occasion of the blocking of Trump’s account) the platforms have power and are quite ready to seize the (unfortunately still) head of the most powerful government in the world to withdraw its main communication channels.

Similar to the impression created by the social media self-portrayal of the Capitol Tower, Silicon Valley has its own »tendency to be revolutionary without revolutionizing anything«, as German Stanford professor Adrian Daub just wrote in his brilliant story of ideas »Was das Valley thinking calls «has shown. As far as the shutdown of Trump’s channels is concerned, one may have to be grateful to this systematic tendency – even if it comes five years too late in many respects. Or maybe it still comes too early. Because you don’t need a lot of imagination to imagine Trump as the founder of his own huge, this time purely right-wing social media empire. This would presumably increase the radicalization potential of his movement even more. But it could also reduce their ability to recruit among the general public. And last but not least, that would significantly impair the effectiveness of the images produced by this movement.

The image scientist Horst Bredekamp said on Deutschlandfunk about the possible historical significance of the Capitol Tower, “it could have been the first image production uprising,” in which the production of images is a more important concern than the direct political consequences. The political effects this image production will have in the future, however, must be observed with extreme caution – and even more important: finally to be combated politically in a meaningful way.

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Media and Corona: never going backwards (neue-deutschland.de)

The year is drawing to a close, the time to look back has come. A look back that many will shy away from is that of the early months of the corona pandemic. For many media companies that would mean admitting blatant mistakes: The news from the sealed off Wuhan, reports of newly infected people in other Chinese cities and finally in Europe and America were accompanied by a mixture of escalation and reassurance that was probably unique in media history to date. With a kind of delightful shudder, the reports of returned aircraft, the isolated cruise ship “Diamond Princess” and quarantined travelers, while at the same time oozing with indecency, the slogan “Don’t panic!”

The topos of the reporting was: No, this backward Asia – but that can’t happen to us! Gleeful reports about inadequate hygiene regulations in Asian food markets, scary stories about Asian eating habits; yes, one was not too lowly to heave references to correct hand washing in the leading articles.

The Chinese authorities couldn’t please the German media either: they were both too determined and too hesitant in their actions. The sealing off of an entire city was presented as a panic reaction (“draconian”, “Berliner Morgenpost”); at the same time, China has been criticized for covering up the extent of the crisis for far too long. Representing most of them, Axel Dorloff from the ARD studio in Beijing saw the dismissal of two health officials (“scapegoats”) as a symptom of a “failure of one’s own system”. But even before Corona, you could look at the emergency rooms of any German hospital, you could look into the exhausted faces of nursing and treatment staff and had a premonition that trust in the hospital groups, labor disputes from above and brutal austerity dictatorships were shattering German Health system was almost entirely unfounded.

The reporting was meanwhile different: “A German engineer reports from Shanghai,” it was said in the “Welt”. That brought together what belongs together: the German engineer, the highest embodiment of the world spirit, delivers objective truth. The man had to go through an unbelievable amount: »I could now report how wonderful our Thailand vacation was. Play and slide with the kids in the pool. 30 degrees, sun, beach. But the vacation was unfinished. «In the» FAZ «a scientist spoke in all seriousness» who advised the director Steven Soderberg on his film ›Contagion‹ «- because everything that happens abroad is a film, provided that it is it doesn’t bother German engineers in the paddling pool.

Meanwhile, Asian people in Germany reported bizarre incidents. People sat away from them in public transport, snatched children from them or covered them with abuse. In the »Focus«, Jan Fleischhauer dealt under the heading »Am I a racist if I don’t want to sit next to the Chinese in the subway (sic)?« Incidents of the type mentioned as deplorable collateral damage. And still had the chutzpah of comparing racist paranoia with a “woman” “who sees three men walking towards her on the way home.”

If the genre of annual reviews gradually goes out of fashion, it also has a self-protection function. The best protection against such retrospectives would of course only be to stop writing at all.

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The first chance lost (neue-deutschland.de)

Helen Breit laughs. But she is utterly serious. “Hope is a difficult term right now,” she says. The 33-year-old from Freiburg is chairwoman of the nationwide fan organization “Our Curve” – and has been a little disaffected since Monday. »With the distribution of the television money, the DFL could have shown for the first time since these many words of humility, solidarity and self-criticism whether it is ready to take courageous steps into the future. She didn’t do that, “says Breit in an interview with” nd “.

The German Football League has really not broken new ground with the decision on the distribution of media revenues for the next four seasons – despite all the complaints about the approaching end of professional football and reform promises since the beginning of the corona crisis. The new model with the four pillars of “equal distribution”, “performance”, “young talent” and “interest”, with which more than a billion euros are distributed to the 36 clubs in the first and second Bundesliga every year, is just a well-formulated maintenance of the existing conditions . According to the old model, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund received 429 million euros per season – or 31 percent. Now it will be 29.5 percent. So it is logical that only these two clubs have won the championship title in the past eleven years. How uneven the distribution is, shows that FC Bayern receives five times as much from league rivals SC Freiburg.

Is professional football even looking for new paths? The first answers come from the reactions of the club’s representatives to Monday’s decision. For the top clubs it is a painful compromise that 53 percent of the media revenues are now evenly distributed among the Bundesliga clubs, said Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke. So the answer is no. “We can and must be satisfied with the result,” said Martin Hornberger. The managing director of SC Paderborn put the why immediately afterwards: “Our percentage participation in the TV money will not improve significantly, but above all it will not deteriorate.” As a second division team that is well considered above average, the club was probably only concerned with maintaining ownership. Paderborn received 31 million euros from media revenues this season, league competitor Erzgebirge Aue only nine million.

This expected but sobering development displeases many. Andreas Rettig too. “The DFL is only a marketing association,” says the former managing director of the German Football League. The solidarity has unfortunately shifted. “FC Bayern used to show solidarity with Bochum and Bielefeld, today with Manchester United and Juventus Turin,” says Rettig.

“Basically there has been no change of direction,” says Helen Breit. But the fan representative not only criticizes, she also brings in ideas. “The proposed efficiency rate would have achieved a lot. So: How are the resources used that are available and what success do I have with them. Now it is like this: Whoever wins the economic competition is almost automatically the best in the sporting field. ”Her concern is“ sustainability, the sensible use of money and resources ”. She develops such concepts in the club-wide fan project “Future of Professional Football”. Breit contradicts the accusation often made against the fansite of ignoring the performance principle: “Nobody wants to abolish the performance concept. Equal distribution regardless of performance is not consistent in sport. It’s about the conditions under which someone is successful and how successful. ”Breit would also have liked to see the promotion of young people, only three percent of the total proceeds, rewarded in the“ Young Talent ”pillar.

The fact that the clubs have the power to implement reform shows how little the clubs are willing to undertake reforms. The model for the distribution of media revenues was developed and proposed by the DFL Presidium. The 36 first and second division teams did not have to accept it – because the league association is an association of clubs. Another fact shows how sick the professional football system is. The complaints about losses of millions due to the corona crisis are still loud, one of the biggest points of criticism – the horrific player salaries – remains untouched despite all the assurances of improvement, probably for fear of competitive disadvantages. Even in the greatest need: Twelve first division clubs are currently not demanding any salary waiver from their professionals.

You can lose hope there. Helen Breit is not giving up yet. She sits with five other fan representatives in the 35-strong DFL task force “Future of Professional Football”. After the lost chance in the redistribution of media revenues, she demands: “The DFL and the clubs are now even more challenged to really make something substantial out of the recommendations that will come from the task force at the end of December. Otherwise only empty words will remain. “And Breit expects” that these recommendations will be made available to the public so that everyone can have an insight and it is transparent what is made of them. “After all, Breit reports on” very, very constructive discussions «.

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Elections in the USA 2020: The right echo chamber (neue-deutschland.de)

The house and court broadcaster of right-wing America is loyal to the president.

Photo: Alamy

Joe Biden is considered a rather conservative Democrat. In the election campaign against Trump, he advertises with a decidedly moderate program for the political center. But you can only get this impression if you inform yourself in the reputable media, which, according to President Trump, are “enemies of the people” and spread “fake news”. The truth is found on Fox News. Biden is just “an empty vessel,” the presenter Laura Ingraham recently announced to her viewers. Behind him is “an unholy alliance” between “big business and the radical left”, united by “the common hostility to the American middle class.” Biden has “a love affair with China”, he will finally sell off American industry, “the country we know and love” is doomed if Trump loses the election. Then Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joins in, and he and presenter Ingraham vie to praise Trump in the highest tones. Only Trump is not dependent on “special interests”, i.e. on lobby groups, only he can save American jobs, only he can assert himself against China.

This type of coverage, worthy of an autocratic regime, is not a special case on America’s largest news network. Journalism professor Jay Rosen sees Fox News as a “propaganda machine” and a “state broadcaster” that is increasingly “merging with the Trump administration” for a reason. America’s conservatives have been building their own parallel public for years. This right “echo chamber” is playing more and more on the Internet, but its heart is still the 24-hour news channel Fox News. If, as many currently fear, the election goes tight and Trump does not accept the election result, millions of Americans would get their information about it from Fox News – with potentially disastrous consequences for American democracy.

In the USA, two political tribes are increasingly facing each other who hardly seem to live in the same reality. A January PEW poll found Republican voters deeply distrust almost all media, except Fox News. They put their trust in the broadcaster to a large extent. This development peaked under Trump, but it began long before him. Fox News was founded in 1996 by international media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is known for conservative tabloid media, through which he repeatedly sought close connections in politics – especially in Great Britain. In the 1990s he wanted to try something similar in the United States. Fox News started with the slogan “Fair and Balanced” – which implied that Fox would finally counter the alleged liberal bias of the “mainstream media”. Fox News became more and more clearly the Republican television station.

After September 11th, Fox accompanied the war on terror with hurray-patriotic reporting and became America’s most watched cable news channel. When Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008, the tone on Fox News became even rougher and more extreme. The station openly beat the drum for the right-wing populist tea party movement. The biggest star on Fox News at the time was Glenn Beck, who passed on all sorts of “revelations” to an audience of millions in endless, confused monologues at prime time: About the secret plan of the radical socialist Barack Obama, who “hates white people” and is controlled by shadowy forces , for example from the “puppeteer” George Soros, a hardly hidden anti-Semitism. Glenn Beck was finally killed in 2011.

But Fox News was by no means saying goodbye to paranoid conspiracy theories. Starting in 2011, Donald Trump became a regular guest on the Fox News morning show “Fox and Friends”. There he gave all sorts of things, including the conspiracy myth, according to which Barack Obama was not born in the USA and therefore should not be president at all. This so-called “Birther theory” was a central expression of the racist opposition to the first black president at the time, and Trump was its most prominent proponent. When Trump ran for the presidential election in 2015, Fox News viewers already knew exactly who he was – and what he was politically about.

If you look at Fox News for a few hours (as probably millions of American retirees do every day), less individual (false) information stands out than a permanent atmosphere of threat. The moderators spoke to the audience in an excited staccato and warned them of numerous enemies and dangers: of the arrogant “liberal elites” who look down on them and despise America; the “migrant flows” that threaten to flood the US at any time; the criminals and “radical anti-fascists” who make America’s streets unsafe – and of course the “media mob” who conspired against President Trump. American media keep reporting about people whose relatives have been “taken over” by Fox News. After they started watching Fox News every day, they became more and more paranoid.

In the beginning, Fox News – like almost all established Republican politicians – was skeptical about Trump’s candidacy. Rupert Murdoch asked on Twitter at the time: “When will Donald Trump stop ridiculing his friends, let alone the whole country?” During the 2015 election campaign, Trump even boycotted the station at times because he didn’t like the coverage.

Fox News also has some serious journalists, such as Chris Wallace, who moderated the first presidential debate and brought Trump into distress in interviews with critical questions. In the meantime, Trump was even angry that Fox News is not always one hundred percent loyal, and threatened: “We have to look for a new news channel, Fox no longer works for us!” Again and again Trump advertises the new news channel One American News. The station has been around since 2013, is even more right-wing than Fox News, has given up any pretensions of journalistic objectivity and stands firmly behind Trump.

But these occasional tensions between the broadcaster and the president only show the boundless loyalty Trump expects from the conservative media. Because meanwhile no sheet fits between Fox and Trump. Trump repeatedly calls Fox competitor CNN “fake news” and has never given him an interview. On Fox, however, he is regularly interviewed and defended and celebrated daily.

Sean Hannity – one of Fox’s biggest stars with his daily evening show – is reportedly a close advisor to Trump and calls the president several times a week. Hannity even appeared once at a Trump election event, where he extolled the president and described the rest of the media as “fake news.” The station and the White House are almost symbiotically linked, also in terms of personnel. In 2018, for example, former Fox News co-president Bill Shine temporarily became the “communications director” at the White House.

Trump himself is a loyal Fox News viewer. According to reports, he watches for several hours every day and often lets his agenda be determined by what is told to him there – sometimes he comments on the program in real time on Twitter. It is difficult to say who is giving direction to whom, whether Fox News Trump dictates the worldview or vice versa. Again and again there are signs that Trump himself is falling under the spell of Fox News spins, which are actually intended for his followers. In April, 74 journalism professors and journalists signed an open letter to the Murdoch family accusing Fox News of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. This has meant that viewers did not take the virus seriously enough, with potentially dangerous consequences. Fox News audiences included not only many elderly people, but “the President of the United States,” as the letter says.

This collective loss of reality is worrying enough in normal times, but it could have dramatic consequences in the current presidential election. Many liberals in America currently fear a scenario in which Trump is trying to rig the election by declaring himself the winner before all the votes have been counted. Something similar happened in the Florida election in 2000. Fox News had declared George W. Bush the winner in the state at the time. The other news channels followed the assessment, only later it turned out that the choice had by no means been decided. But Fox News had gotten the impression that Bush had already won. Shortly thereafter, the Supreme Court decided to stop the Florida count and Bush became president. Ironically, the journalist in charge of the poll at Fox News at the time was George W. Bush’s cousin. If a similar scenario were to repeat itself in 2020, Fox News would undoubtedly play a central role.

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Right-wing extremism online: waves of outrage help right-wing extremists (neue-deutschland.de)

Neo-Nazis use the internet as a whisper for their hate speech and calls for violence.

Foto: imago images/Ikon Images

Your book is called »Digital Fascism«. What exactly does that mean?

With our term digital fascism, we describe how central basic patterns of fascist movements receive new impetus in the digital context.

What are the central basic patterns?

The focus is on the idea that one’s own nation is being existentially threatened and that special measures are needed to experience a national awakening. Today this is expressed in the talk of a “population exchange”: the idea that there is a plan to replace the German people with migrants and Muslims. The AfD has the evocation of such a scenario in common with the youngest right-wing terrorists. To add to the drama, the extreme right propagates views as if the country were being covered with “violence by foreigners.” The aim is to put people in an emotional state of emergency in which violence appears necessary to defend themselves.

To what extent does this narrative work differently in the digital context?

While these ideas were disseminated by hierarchically organized groups in the pre-digital age, today anyone can pretend to be the herald of the will of the people via social media. The horizontal structures of social media also create a new form of fascism. The narratives spread much faster and reach groups that otherwise would never have fallen under the spell of national awakening.

In theory, everyone can receive and everyone can send on social media. What is the role of the organized extreme right?

It’s not that easy for them to stay in control on social media. Many developments and discussions are simply too fast to fit into a coherent strategy. Too many actors are working with and against each other. The AfD, as the party that triggers the largest interactions on Facebook, is of course an anchor.

Why?

With her coordinated behavior she can initiate debates and give her messages the greatest possible reach. The use of fake profiles also helps. In addition, however, we see how rather unbound swarms form spontaneously and spread right-wing extremist messages with very different motivations. Without them, the AfD’s propaganda would not work nearly as well.

How do social networks work in favor of such campaigns?

They fit in well with the strategies of right-wing extremists. You can see that in the way they spread content faster, trigger fear, or are post-factual. In addition, right-wing dynamics can be multiplied through fake accounts and coordinated online activism. This gives actors who act manipulatively decisive advantages. Fact checkers can hardly stop the incessant flow of fake news. Since everyone can post an infinite amount at first, this is a fight against windmills.

Are the media and politicians aware of the phenomenon?

Some media understand social media as an image of society. This is problematic because it is often difficult to understand who is behind certain online campaigns. To provoke attention in the media is an integral part of right-wing extremist strategies to multiply chains of interaction and to fire the algorithms. Rifle help is given from the right and left. Because in addition to supposedly conservatives, it is mainly actors who counter-talk that give right-wing narratives high rates of interaction and thus reach.

So it makes little sense to discuss with right-wing actors on the Internet?

We believe that many democratic actors do not yet understand the scope of the problem. With the constant waves of outrage on social media, many well-intentioned initiatives are working to fuel the polarizing strategies of the extreme right. It is not uncommon for the power of one’s own argument to be overestimated. The stream of anger and malice that is fired on also deprives the potential of cultivating a form of communication-oriented discourse. So you get involved with right-wing provocateurs.

What can anti-fascists do most sensibly to thwart the digital strategies of the extreme right?

Antifascists should consider how much they want to help move debates to social media. Because they don’t have much to gain there if they don’t want to act as manipulative as the extreme right. It is important to consider the attentional strategies and not to jump over every stick. In addition, digital anti-fascism must politicize the structures that fuel digital fascism. Because by hanging too much on the multitude of different individual actors, the big picture is often lost.

Apart from social media, what role do special online subcultures play for the extreme right?

The role played by digital subcultures shows how unregulated spaces can become biotopes for right-wing extremism and even right-wing terrorism today. The respective forums, such as the 4Chan Imageboard, through which right-wing terrorists are currently socializing, are characterized by the fact that everyone is allowed to say anything and nothing is too blatant. Manga characters and memes stand next to swastikas and violent fantasies. Racism, contempt for women and homophobia are part of normal dealings here. Violence takes on an entertainment character.

Many right-wing terrorists have streamed their acts online or posted videos related to their acts. What was the purpose of it?

There have been at least seven such mediated attacks in recent years. And they took place through the broadcast to a global audience. The live streams are an integral part of the actions of these perpetrators. You let people participate. It is a digital form of communitarisation about violence, which is also central in classical fascism. The opportunity to be inspired is intended to lower the threshold to violence in others and creates new incentives to deliver a spectacle to a digital audience through its own »high score lists«.

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ndPodcast: Go deeper, get out! (neues-deutschland.de)

MUM20 – go deeper, go out!

Max and Moritz

Max: Let’s talk about the media and the US election campaign, Moritz. You didn’t just come to us to enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves, you also have a lot to do.

Moritz: I’ve rented a camper and will be wandering around the country for the next three weeks. More specifically, probably through Pennsylvania and maybe one or two other states. I definitely want to be a bit flexible to be able to go if something important happens somewhere.

How do you see the German reporting on the USA?

One problem is that too often journalism is done from a distance, from Washington DC – very close to official government policy. The result is journalism that is heavily focused on Donald Trump. With the “nd” we stopped – even if it keeps coming up in the agency ticker – to make the daily Trump report. Much of the German US reporting is very superficial. That’s human. Because one or two correspondents in Washington rarely have time to drive three days out into this vast country to write a text to capture: What do people in Ohio think? I want to go a little deeper.

You often do data journalism in your reporting. How do you go about it, why is it important?

I did an analysis beforehand – you can do that easily from your Berlin desk: Where are progressive Democrat candidates and what are their chances of being elected? How have these constituencies voted in the past? I picked a district in upstate New York that is represented by a Republican, even though Clinton won that constituency in 2016. This is undecided territory, and that is where the party-left Dana Balter is running. She has a chance to win and could then strengthen the left wing in parliament. Data journalism can be a good correction to poor and superficial “media expertise” if one leaps to conclusions too quickly. In 2016, prominent data journalists said a few days before the election: “Folks, Donald Trump is only an average polling error away from the presidency.” gone the glue. Now one is more careful. Max, what do you think: Did the US media learn from 2016?

What unfortunately still happens: Trump separates rubbish – flooding the media with bullshit, that was an explicit strategy according to Steve Bannon as early as 2016 – and the rubbish is then turned back and forth and analyzed on US television instead of simply being sidelined to let. The old journalistic principle “You have to let both sides have their say” still applies. But there have also been cases where TV stations simply switched off during obvious propaganda coronavirus briefings; Trump events are shown less.

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»Not a warning, but an order« (neue-deutschland.de)

“Whenever I write a text that concerns the government, I take a deep breath”: Patrícia Campos Mello

Since October 18, 2018, Patrícia Campos Mello has been living in a »bizarre world«, she says. At that time, Brazil was in the hot phase of the election campaign, the country was divided as seldom before. On that day, at exactly 2 p.m., a text by the renowned journalist about illegal election advertising went online on the homepage of the daily newspaper “Folha de São Paulo”. What followed just a few minutes later changed Mello’s life: rights began a smear campaign against the journalist on the Internet. Mello was showered with death threats and charges, and at some point even today’s President Jair Bolsonaro attacked her personally.

In an interview with this newspaper, Mello says she never needed a bodyguard. Neither in Syria, nor in Afghanistan or Libya, where she worked as a war correspondent. But when she reported on the Brazilian presidential election that turbulent October in her hometown of São Paulo, all she could do was step out onto the street with guard. The threats continue to this day. In March, she came third on the list of the world’s most vulnerable journalists, ranked by the One Free Press Coalition.

In her recently published book “A máquina do ódio” (The Machine of Hate), which was previously only published in Portuguese, she traces this very threatening development. She describes how she became the target of the extreme right. How President Bolsonaro is trying to restrict press freedom with targeted attacks on journalists. How the largest country in Latin America became a laboratory for an authoritarian online project.

According to Mello, the modern version of Orbán, Trump and Bolsonaro authoritarianism does not need a direct break with the constitution or a coup in the classical sense. Internet censorship is not even necessary. Because: Nowadays it is enough to flood social media with “alternative facts”. For many people, these would at some point become the truth, stifle other narratives, cause confusion and discord.

What influence a few lines tweeted and written can be seen in Brazil, where the smartphone has become the most important weapon of the extreme right, especially software: WhatsApp. According to studies, 136 million Brazilians were already using the short message service in 2017, one year before the election. That’s more than 60 percent of the population. Other polls show WhatsApp is the country’s most important source of information these days – way ahead of TV or Facebook. Hardly anyone understood the power of the app as well as Bolsonaro. Similar to US President Donald Trump, the ex-military despises the traditional media. During the election campaign, he therefore communicated almost exclusively via social networks. No other Brazilian politician had anywhere near as many followers as Bolsonaro.

His son Carlos, also known as »pit bull« because of his choleric nature, played a key role in shaping his father’s online strategy, copied methods from abroad, and initiated an aggressive online campaign. On WhatsApp, supporters * Bolsonaros shared millions of hateful messages, false reports and defamations. A planned program against homophobia in schools, which had been developed during the government of the PT Workers’ Party, was quickly reinterpreted as a strategy for the »early sexualization of children«. At some point, the party even had to declare that it had not distributed baby bottles in the shape of a penis to daycare centers. The content may sound absurd, but it met with open ears from millions of users – and Bolsonaro ultimately won the vote thanks to his communication. Mello states: “The ex-captain’s digital campaign strategy was light years ahead of the other candidates.”

Bolsonaro received support from companies, as Mellos’ widely acclaimed research from October 2018 showed. These illegally financed smear campaigns against the PT and its candidate Fernando Haddad, who ran against Bolsonaro in the runoff election. They had WhatsApp messages sent en masse through marketing companies abroad with the aim of helping the far-right politician to win the election. Mello’s report did not connect the future president with it. However, that did not stop right-wing internet users from launching a hate campaign against them.

Bolsonaro fans flooded the profiles of the 45-year-olds and in the meantime hacked their cell phones. Mello and her family received thousands of death threats. One message said, “If you want to protect your son, leave the country. It’s not a warning, it’s an order. ”And Bolsonaro? He shared a lot of the slander on Twitter and insulted Mello in a sexist way. Her case is symptomatic of the relationship between the far right and the media.

During the election campaign, Bolsonaro had repeatedly incited against the traditional media. He dealt particularly hard against the liberal daily “Folha de São Paulo”, the largest newspaper in Brazil and Mello’s employer. He called the newspaper the “biggest fake news in Brazil” and threatened to remove the state advertisements. He also accused other media during the election campaign of “massacring” him in order to announce the consequences to them.

Since he took office, journalists have been treated like enemies, critical reporters have been unloaded from press conferences, and individual reporters have been intimidated with targeted online campaigns. »During the military dictatorship in Brazil, journalists were censored, tortured and murdered. The dictatorship ended in 1985. Under Bolsonaro, a democratically elected president, the persecution is back: through social media and virtual militias, «wrote Mello almost two years after the election. The situation is particularly threatening for women.

The attacks are not limited to the Internet. The government is also exerting pressure in parliament. By decree, Bolsonaro wanted to forbid companies from publishing their sales in newspapers, as required by a law from 1976. Many print media rely on these lucrative advertisements. Bolsonaro’s favorite enemy medium is the »Folha de São Paulo«. Bolsonaro let his government cancel all subscriptions. This happened in the same week in which US President Trump announced that he would cancel subscriptions to the New York Times and Washington Post in the White House. Only recently, Bolsonaro threatened the powerful Globo network again not to extend its broadcast license in 2022. With this strategy of financially draining non-opportune media, Bolsonaro follows step by step Orbán’s instructions for dealing with independent media.

The attacks on journalists also offer Bolsonaro a good opportunity to distract from scandals and pose as the victim of a plot. So it is not surprising that the attacks increased when a few months ago it briefly looked as if Bolsonaro was slipping control in the wake of scandals and corona chaos. In May, the President insulted the staff of the Folha de São Paulo as “scum” and “villains” after the newspaper reported on his political influence on the Federal Police. When reporters asked questions, they were shouted at by a choleric president: “Shut up!” Shortly afterwards, ironically on International Press Freedom Day, a photojournalist was beaten up by Bolsonaro supporters while watching a protest march against the president. When a journalist asked a question about suspicious payments to Bolsonaro’s wife’s account at a press conference at the end of August, the President replied, “I want to punch your face.” Because of the attacks and threats, several major media outlets announced that they would be reporting in the morning the presidential palace.

But the campaigns of the right-wing troll armies on the Internet continue, some with direct connections to the government camp. “Whenever I write a text that concerns the government, I take a deep breath and think about what the reaction will be,” writes Mello. “Are they going to denigrate my family or post obscene memes? I think about whether it really makes sense to write. “

Nevertheless: The great self-censorship has so far not taken place – on the contrary. Many journalists, also traditionally conservative, have become more critical and stand up to the government with their work. The motto: especially now. This is how Mello’s book ends confidently: “Despite all the obstacles, the press has just the unique opportunity to get up again and fight the global manipulation of public opinion through social media.”

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Axel Springer: The transferred Döpfner (neue-deutschland.de)

In our sad everyday media life, the good news is rare. Bad news tends to dominate: the »Süddeutsche Zeitung« has to be fired by the dozen, »Yps« is not being reissued, and fewer and fewer twelve-year-olds know why they should subscribe to the »FAZ« since Patrick Bahners had his own Tiktok channel. So it’s good to know that the ruble is still rolling elsewhere: Springer boss Mathias Döpfner has just bought around 4.1 percent of the share capital from publisher widow Friede Springer, and the generous widow has given him around 15 more as a bonus for the long-time confidante Percent – and made him a billionaire according to the rough calculations of various industry services. The voting rights of their remaining block of shares of around 22.5 percent are to be exercised by Döpfner in the future.

The devil always shits on the biggest pile, small minds may object here. In fact, however, the deal is in the sense of a higher common sense: after all, a clear leadership continuity is required for »Bild«, the paper is responsible. Almost no other media company takes its democratic control obligations so seriously: 16,000 employees should remain vigilant and keep the microphone open when a small child has just witnessed the murder of his playmates. Springer employees should also continue to show their strength when right-wing Springer bloggers call for overly cheeky feminists to hunt. Springer employees should use all available means to kill a virologist who does not want to talk to Springer.

Mathias Döpfner also takes on this guardian responsibility personally if necessary: ​​When a right-wing radical set off for mass murder in a synagogue last year in Halle, killing a passer-by and a guest in a kebab restaurant, Döpfner consequently warned in an editorial of an overly generous refugee policy and an excessive political one correctness. Under the heading “Never again, never again”, he criticized on the title page of the “Welt”, among other things, the turning away from “Foreign Crime” and the HSV’s personnel policy (no joke). A text that received a lot of attention and was also distributed by the politician Erika Steinbach; a text that one likes to read from someone who is preparing to build Europe’s largest media group together with the investor KKR.

There is no doubt about it: the three-meter-tall music, theater and sewer scientist Döpfner is the right man at the right time. A Europe that introduces “deportation sponsorships” and strives for a unified asylum policy under German leadership that Viktor Orbán can also subscribe to, needs a unified pan-European media system, a Lidl in the opinion market, as it were, in which foreigner crime is the dominant issue. Responsible media billionaires are needed who, in the event of a pandemic, ensure that people not only listen to stubborn scientists, but also to the views of gossip columnist Patricia Riekel (“I would not have thought the measures necessary”).

In short, the inconceivable provinciality and bigoted feudal structure of the German media system must be extended to the entire continent if fortress Europe is to be anything else, also inwardly. You cannot rely on the public broadcasters, who have been angry at Springer for years, as well as on Google. The voice of reason suggests: overwrite him completely! The few percent are no longer important.

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Racism in sport: wavering prejudices (neue-deutschland.de)

It was only a few years ago that Adam Goodes was still considered an icon in Australian Rules Football, one of the most important sports on the continent. The indigenous player is successful, but he is repeatedly discriminated against. He is referred to as a “nigger” on social media, as “King Kong” or “coconut”. Once fans roar: “Go back to your zoo!” At some point, Goodes has had enough. In 2013, at a game of his Sydney Swans, he pointed to a 13-year-old spectator who had just described him as a “monkey”. A debate follows about racism, identity thinking and indigenous roots.

Adam Goodes makes a differentiated statement, whereupon he was voted “Australian of the Year” in 2014. “As an indigenous Australian, I have often experienced racism,” he says in the speech. “While it was difficult most of the time, it also taught me a lot. It shaped my values ​​and what I believe in today. «Goodes receives a lot of encouragement, but many Australians suddenly see his self-confidence as a provocation.

The origin should remain in the background

Soon Goodes will be booed regularly at games. In 2015 he celebrates a goal with a traditional war dance. It’s not the first indigenous protest in sport: in 1993, football player Nicky Winmar pulled up his jersey and pointed to his black skin. A year later, runner Cathy Freeman wore the Aboriginal flag at the Commonwealth Games. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Freeman lit the flame and a few days later won gold over 400 meters. This victory was interpreted worldwide as a new beginning for indigenous minorities. But has racism against indigenous athletes actually decreased in the past 20 years since then?

“In sport, successful indigenous athletes are respected by the white majority – as long as their indigenous origins remain in the background,” says the Australian anthropologist Amanda Kearney, who studies indigenous cultures. “As soon as this origin is emphasized as an important identification, many Australians feel challenged.” At the height of his career, Adam Goodes was influential, eloquent and healthy. Amanda Kearney says, “By doing so, he was shaking the prejudices that many Australians have against indigenous people.”

A lot of the media in Australia keep referring to statistics: to the lower life expectancy of indigenous people or to their over-representation in prisons. Adam Goodes, who ended his career in 2015, always emphasizes the causes: The indigenous people lived undisturbed on the continent for more than 50,000 years. However, by the late 18th century, hundreds of thousands of them were killed and repressed by British colonists. After two centuries of brutal marginalization, Australian indigenous people were not recognized as equal citizens until 1967. Even then, however, the state often withdrew children from indigenous families, now known as the “stolen generation.”

The access of indigenous Australians to medicine, education and work improved from the new millennium. But even today, many media describe the success of indigenous politicians and scientists as a sensation. It’s the same in sport, says Lawrence Bamblett of the Australian Center for Indigenous History: “For decades the government had locked up indigenous Australians. We weren’t visible. With one exception: sport. “

Cricketer Eddie Gilbert, boxer Lionel Rose, jockey Darby McCarthy: Lawrence Bamblett names a number of examples of athletes who have always been told the same story – their rise from poverty to prosperity through hard training and discipline. In contrast, politics, education and art are still less associated with indigenous people. “Young people are constantly being reduced to deficits,” says Bamblett. “Fortunately, my parents were different: after every negative story they told me a dozen positive ones.”

The roots of the Australian national sports go back to the 19th century. British colonizers established cricket, rugby and football. The changing rooms were mostly closed to the few indigenous players. For a long time, many Australians did not want to admit that their Australian football also contains elements of Marngrook, an ancient indigenous ball game. It was not until the 1990s, with new laws and projects against discrimination, that the professional leagues opened up to indigenous players.

Even the selection of players is racist

But this change has limits: in the population of Australia around 2.5 percent have an indigenous background. In Australian football it is more than ten percent, and has been for 15 years. “Indigenous people are clearly overrepresented on the playing fields, but the opposite is the case in the executive floors of the clubs,” says Barry Judd from the University of Melbourne, arguably the most important scientist in this field. “I can’t think of a single influential trainer with an indigenous background.”

Almost all large clubs and associations are now participating in the nationwide network for »reconciliation«, with campaigns, projects and appeals for donations. How much of that is just marketing? The Australian Football League, for example, names Joe Johnson as the first Aboriginal player to stand up against racism, and that as early as 1904. But at that time, Barry Judd reports, Johnson didn’t even make his origins an issue.

In other cases, too, indigenous players are emphasized positively. Talent scouts are looking for young players with a suitable background. “We call this enlightened racism,” says Barry Judd. “The Scouts believe that a race who produced hunters and gatherers for more than 40,000 years would be well suited to Australian football today. They think that indigenous players can run faster and have a better spatial orientation, maybe even a sixth sense. «On this basis, which was racially motivated and, despite numerous attempts, could never be scientifically proven, a number of players were hired.

Indigenous players are sought after in the lucrative professional leagues, but they are considered outsiders in popular sports. The Fitzroy Stars, for example, an amateur Australian football club from Melbourne, run and trained by indigenous athletes. He had not been accepted into any league for more than ten years. So its members sometimes played in mixed clubs. There they should integrate into society, was a much more common opinion of non-indigenous gamblers. “Our club is a safe place for us,” says Paul Stewart, one of the youth coaches for the Fitzroy Stars. “Here we can be the way we are, without obstacles, without racism.”

The Fitzroy Stars have a hard time finding sponsors. Companies and non-governmental organizations are interested in indigenous clubs and sports festivals with the same intentions over and over again, says Stewart: “It’s about health prevention, clean water, domestic safety. As if we had to be constantly helped from outside. There are hardly any international sponsors. “

Stewart thinks that you have to go on the offensive with a differentiated concept, for example with a temporary preference for indigenous people. He believes that only through quotas or scholarships can indigenous peoples become decision-makers in associations. Only then does visibility become normal.

So 20 years after Cathy Freeman’s Olympic victory in Sydney, the debate about racism continues. Just a few weeks ago, the indigenous football player Eddie Betts was repeatedly depicted as a monkey on social media. Often racism is also expressed subliminally, for example to the tennis player Ashleigh Barty, whose father is descended from the Ngarigo. Ashleigh Barty won the French Open in 2019. Then strangers deleted the word “indigenous” from their Wikipedia entry. Barty, however, is self-confident about her roots. Like so many indigenous athletes before her and – probably many more after her.

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