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Merz and the media

The CDU politician and ex-BlackRock Manager Friedrich Merz has expressed concern about the media landscape. Equally worrying is the hypocrisy he has thus triggered in many media: Merz as an “acceptable” political figure could not exist without the help of large media. Many editors also reveal their (only seemingly) naive self-image in the reaction and practice whitewashing.

Friedrich Merz has caused a stir with statements on the media landscape. Initially, the “[Aachener Zeitung](https://www.aachener-zeitung.de/politik/deutschland/akv-rittertalk-friedrich-merz-cdu-zu-politik-und-presse_aid-48990755 “Merz über Presse: "Wir brauchen die nicht mehr!")” had reported on the appearance, in the meantime a debate has emerged, various media have followed suit. This debate is very contradictory, it is conducted on all sides with great self-righteousness. Here is the relevant quote from Merz:

Right now there is a real power shift between those who spread news and those who create news. For the benefit of those who generate the news. We don’t need them anymore. And that’s the beauty. Today, they can reach an audience via their own Social Media channels, via Youtube, which is partly no longer accessible to the public, even the private institutionalized media.

If you use this correctly, if you do it well, then you have an opportunity through these channels to perceive your own interests, to keep your own interpretation authority over what you have said. In a completely different Form than we used to have. So, and this is the good news of digitalization.

“Right” media criticism is overemphasized

Although this finding cannot be dismissed completely, these statements and their Form are nevertheless to be criticized: they testify to a problematic view of the politician on his own social role as well as a view of the role that the media should actually take as critical instances. In addition, the quotes appear careless and it is to be welcomed that Merz is now facing a wave of criticism.

Perhaps, however, this carelessness is also protected and the statements are a targeted provocation according to the model of the AfD and aimed at its clientele. At least it cannot be ruled out that Merz wants to dock with his push to a “right” current of media criticism, as it is practiced by other actors.

This current of “media criticism” ignites a great confusion: on the one hand, it is overemphasized in order to place Media sceptics in principle in the “right” corner. On the other hand, an “oppositional” attitude is suggested by Trump, AfD and now Merz. Thus, representatives of the establishment, who do not seek a real change in economic relations, are falsely portrayed as strikers against this Establishment, of which they are part.

Merz and the media: two sides of the same coin

The quote is therefore highly problematic, the direct Propaganda favored by Merz can be as dangerous as campaigns of established media – but one should not pretend that the (political, not personal) problematic character of Friedrich Merz has only now become apparent. But this impression could be gained in view of the “shocked” coverage of the event.

In addition, the media sometimes gives the impression that Merz and the major media are not inextricably linked: without massive media protection assistance, however, Merz, an economic radical politician and long-time Manager of a foreign financial power, could hardly be sold to most citizens as an “acceptable” political figure, he would not exist as a politician without this media support.

Whitewashing of the media

Also because of this co-responsibility in the existence and “success” of politicians like Merz, the current self-glorification of numerous media caused by Merz’s provocations is difficult to bear. The statements of Merz are once again abused to whitewash their own industry.

The “heute Journal” of 17 February is to be pointed out as an example of a widespread handling of the incident. Here, too, an artificial contrast between “domination” and “the media” is described, which many media consumers only perceive as constructed.

The model of direct Propaganda favoured by Merz is described as” there are no critical or unresolved questions”. But the suggested contrast to one’s own work is not true. Are these “critical questions” being asked in the major public or private media?

A political scientist formulates the right question in the programme: “who controls those who exercise rule in a democracy?“This, too, is intended to suggest an artificial contrast between “rulers” and “the media”, which many media users bitterly miss.

In view of the scandalous and campaign-like coverage by many major media outlets, these critical media users are asking themselves precisely this question: Who controls those who exercise control when the major media refuse to do so?

Due to this media refusal to work on central topics, the space has only been vacated, which can now be filled by partly problematic new forms of Propaganda. With less relevant topics, good journalism can also be found in large media.

Media splitters and their crocodile tears

In addition, symptoms are once again declared to be the cause with Trump or AfD – although the causes for the current social divisions lie in an economic policy that has only been made possible by many major media through campaigns. Now these editors look at the work and weep crocodile tears in the face of even deeper social trenches and a departure of many citizens from the “established media”.

Frank Überall from the German Journalists ' Association (DJV) says on ZDF: “news makes journalists” – the others would make “PR”. This also creates the wrong image of a media landscape that is free of PR. This journalistic self-congratulation also partly stands in the way of a very justified criticism of Merz’s questionable attitude: while the criticism of Merz is acceptable, informed contemporaries must feel repelled by the simultaneous exaggerated self-presentation by editors.

In an open letter to Merz, the DJV also cultivates the Legend of the major media as the “fourth pillar” of democracy – after all, it threatens Merz with “fierce resistance”. On the one hand, however, one does not want to believe in this resistance because of the experiences with media “resistance” in recent years, on the other hand, a media resistance against other facets of Merz’s political and economic ideas might be more important.