A few weeks ago someone wrote to me. He would have seen something on the internet. Attached was a link that referred to a YouTube video of a “miriam_7_widerstand.” The content: She would have uncovered several scandals while waiting for the train and researching her mobile phone. One of them: the SPD owns media participations. Now the sender wanted to know what it was all about.
I informed him that the SPD is the owner of the German Printing and Publishing Company mbH (ddvg), which in turn has a stake in several media companies. These are minority interests, with one exception. I sent along a link to view the balance sheet key figures and annual reports. I also pointed out that the participation of social democracy in newspapers date back to the imperial era, when there would have been no other way of leaking to the outside world. (In the Weimar Republic there were about 200 social-democratic publishing houses.) Another link led to an elaboration of the Scientific Service of the Bundestag, according to which other parties also maintain media participation. The AfD, on the other hand, has been supported by the German courier in the election campaigns with free extra leaflets and large-scale election advertising. I referred to the publicly available accounts of the parties (also with links), where you can read what the SPD is taking from its participations and what the Union receives in return for large donations from the business community.
In response, I was accused of a ‘pathetic attempt’ to ‘justify a sourness’. At the same time, all the sources I mentioned were dismissed as frivolous. The writer feels “scared”all year round anyway. In doing so, he insinuated in unison that the aforementioned democratic parties, the public media, the Bundestag administration, the scientific service of the German Bundestag, the external audit firms, which independently examine the parties’ reports, and the ddvg with its published balance sheet figures, that they claim the untruth. Instead, he refers to the information provided by Miriam Hudson, which, in his view, seems to be regarded as absolutely serious and credible. After all, he even supports their platform with a funding membership.
At the same time, he sent me a new video link. I actually looked in. And was horrified. The blonde Mirjam stands on a stage like a comedian (“You are such a great audience”). And begins her contribution about the firefighter murdered in Augsburg, after a laughing overturn, that she has “received information from someone”. Then she claims that of the “seven perpetrators… six have already been released and it has not been released into the media. She was then “fixed and ready.”
Here, the public media is accused of concealing and covering up the truth. The reality, however, is different. Quite apart from the fact that a person is initially a suspect until his conviction, the whole thing has of course found its way into the public reporting, as the following small selection of reports of 23.12.2019 alone shows:
- “Six suspects released from pre-trial detention” – DER TAGESSPIEGEL
- “Violence in Augsburg: Six suspects released from U-prison” – BR24
- “Six suspects released from U-prison after Augsburg homicide,” web.de
- “Firefighter beaten to death: 6 suspects released!” RTL.de
- “After the death of firefighter in Augsburg: Suspects released from U-prison”, Editorial Network Germany
- “Six suspects released from U-prison after Augsburg homicide,” Abendzeitung
- “Six suspects released from U-prison after homicide,” Süddeutsche Zeitung
Miriam Hudson’s accusation is therefore unsustainable at first glance. The scandal she outlined does not, in fact, exist. In addition to criticizing the media, she wants to create targeted consternation (“The evening was over”) and outrage (“What’s wrong with the judiciary?”). The above example of reporting alone has shown that she does not seem to take the truth she so invoked so accurately.
A clever person once said: The beauty of the Internet is that everyone can spread their opinion there. The bad thing is, everyone does.
There are also contributions that the earth is a disk, with elaborate justifications. And yet most people would probably say that’s nonsense. Why then do so many believe Miriam Hudson with her reference to“someone” and“the person” – without specifying the source? Why are these posts taken over unreflectively without any criticism, when a simple Internet query immediately reveals the clumsy populism?
Probably because consumers want to believe the content presented. Because, for whatever reason, they have lost confidence in public reporting, the institutions and, in the end, even in the majority society. Perhaps they don’t feel true or taken seriously.
The video has been viewed several thousand times so far. 215 videos have been posted online by the platform “Hello Opinion” behind it. 20,000 people have subscribed to this alternative medium. According to its own data, it has a monthly post reach on Facebook of 3.5 million and a total of 2.4 million video views on YouTube. And such media “alternatives” abound.
However, the departure from the majority society and from the media, which is called the ‘lies or systemic press’, is dangerous. It makes the growing readership less and less accessible for facts and arguments, and at the same time even more accessible to populism, conspiracy theories, mood-mongering, incitement and hatred. In combination with the filter bubbles of social networks, radicalization can be promoted to a threatening degree. The results can be seen in almost all comment columns and partly in election results. In the end, more and more people are being lost to society and our democracy.
Das Misstrauen gegenüber Poltik, Medien und Institutionen wächst. / Alternative Medien gewinnen an Zulauf. / Fake News werden unkritisch übernommen, weil man es glauben mag. / Daraus erwächst eine Gefahr für die Demokratie.