Pandemic and propaganda

The deception by large media in the corona crisis is enormous: the shaky data base for the disturbing zigzag course is not questioned. Central debates do not find a media Forum. The GEO - and fiscal risks (and opportunities) lurking in the shadow of the Virus are not adequately considered. Instead: sentiment against Russia and alternative media. Several documents also outline (apparently) the government’s media tactics.

In the meantime, even elements that are mainly known from the Syria Campaign have arrived in Germany: for example, the instrumentalization of children in order to distract from factual issues by emotionalizing them. Recently, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder read the supposedly ten-year-old Call: “could you extend the initial restriction?“Many media reports did not criticize the instrumentalization of children for political projects, but continued this instrumentalization themselves:

“We should fight together. Thank you for being here for us” concludes the girl in her letter. The lines are followed by a painted pink heart in which “thank you” can be read, beneath which a sun smiles. A letter and a Message that must have impressed Söder! In his press conference, otherwise entirely focused on crisis management, he refers to the lines.

Media harmony puts Maidan campaign in the shade

In this Episode, one thinks about “Bana from Aleppo”, a child who allegedly sent Twitter messages from the embattled Aleppo. If children are used for opinion-making, then one can assume that the facts are thin. The need must be great, because the use of children is effective, but exploiting them is not highly regarded. This also applies if the Bavarian letter – in contrast to Bana’s Twitter messages from Aleppo-should be authentic.

This process from Bavaria is only a tiny piece of the mosaic in a disturbing picture that the major German media currently paint: anyone who thought that the harmony of the campaigns for the Maidan overthrow or the opinion-making about the war against Syria could not be surpassed is currently taught a better lesson.

For Lockdown, against alternative media

At the moment, three dominant strands of reporting are to be observed. On the one hand, there is the one on health, prevention and the defence of the restriction of freedom rights: there are also statements in official papers that recently found their way into the media. This includes a pandemic plan from the Robert Koch Institute, a risk analysis from the Bundestag and a dubious paper from the Ministry of the interior. The communication strategies described in these papers will be discussed later in the Text.

In addition, a defense against the economic policy findings provoked by the Virus can be observed. An extreme example is this contribution by an employee of Baader Bank AG: “a nightmare: entry into the state and exit from the market economy”. And recently it was said in the “taz":

The grand narrative that a neoliberal Elite has wantonly abandoned the welfare state consensus and pursued the dismantling of the welfare state is widespread. This seems to be so evident that there is no need for evidence. (…) This is symptomatic of the social debate in Germany. Even substantial improvements are checked without comment when they have been achieved.

There is also a contrasting dynamic to be observed: liberal economic Media, which (in the face of a looming moral unmasking of the system) are now preaching the Renaissance of the strong state. However, this hoped – for unmasking must be put into perspective: the liberal economic System has already been unmasked numerous times-most recently to the bone during the financial crisis of 2008. the current shift of some media, which Albrecht Müller addresses here, is to be enjoyed with caution at first, because these Channelizations are also known from 2008.

A third strand of current reporting is the defamation of alternative media and Russian state media as well as of Russia itself. In this context, it should be emphasized that China and Russia also carry out Propaganda.

The confusion with the daily number columns

One can imagine situations in which a behavior such as current can be demanded of the population. However, the precondition for a discipline that is absolutely necessary is that the threat is real. With this judgment on the risk potential, the entire consideration also of the coercive measures stands and falls. Other Blogs have already examined how patchy and therefore largely unspeakable the data situation on the Virus is.

As a layman, when it comes to medical and statistical matters, one is almost repulsed by the reporting: the Daily presented series of numbers, in which one clearly senses that they have no real meaning without a data base, achieve the opposite of what they suggest – instead of scientific clarity, the very great social confusion arises. One could argue whether this effect is the result of intent or failure.

The government’s valiant fight against the Virus

The fact that many large media, despite this lack of data, report largely “without any alternative” about the shaky and supposedly devoid of ulterior motives “fight against the Virus” takes away from them another piece of credibility. As a result, they almost completely fail as a guide, which fuels the general confusion. Because the longer the total medical emergency in Germany remains, the greater the scepticism among many citizens. On the other hand, it can also be described as reckless to describe the whole Virus as lies and deceit on an equally uncertain data basis and to propagate an all-clear.

Above all, two central questions are currently diametrically opposed. On the one hand: when, if not now, should one stand up against the restriction of the most elementary fundamental rights? On the other hand: when, if not now, should we pull ourselves together and shut down individual demands for the big picture?

However, satisfactory discussions on the health meaning and the social dangers of coercive measures as well as on the risk potential of the Virus hardly take place in the major media (extremely rare exceptions confirm the rule) – this once again leads the debate into partly highly deserved, partly dubious appearing alternative media. The division into good broadcasting and Print on the one hand and bad Internet on the other is to be rejected: because of the partly disastrous appearance of the large media and because of the heterogeneity of the alternative media, which cannot be reconciled. The “Tagesschau” and numerous other media are still trying to do it these days – in articles like this one.

The critics of the lockdown also lack data basis

A Dilemma of criticism of the current measures is that the appropriate data base for this Position is also lacking. Is it not therefore still necessary to have courage - not to say: recklessness-to dismiss the Virus as a myth with demonstrative certainty? As an “orientation” for both sides, the Daily stream of images and columns of numbers remains: the impression then fluctuates between the Italian Horror scenario and an apparently mild German course. The questions remain.

Personally, I still hesitate with a final assessment: who wants to risk human life for a short Protest Pose? On the other hand, who would like to be accused of having accepted threatening restrictions on freedom without a fight? But the signs are growing that something has gotten out of hand here in the name of Virus control. Don’t the relations seem increasingly absurd? If you look at India: aren’t they downright bizarre?

What is also irritating about this process is the apparent international agreement across system boundaries: does this global “step-by-step” not speak for the existence of a force majeure to be fought and uniting all former enemies? If, on the other hand, this force majeure were to be radically exaggerated, who would want to resist the global (self-)dynamic once set in motion and accompanied by unprecedented Propaganda?

Lockdown,” just " to protect citizens?

So, what’s behind it? To use it for geopolitical purposes, the Virus does not have to be invented. But many people simply cannot believe that the global economy is being shut down “just” to protect the health of citizens: because it contradicts all their experiences from the past decades.

The Virus (regardless of whether its potential danger is real or massively exaggerated) not only carries the risk of neoliberal predation. It also potentially holds the Chance of knowledge gains and radical, tendentially positive changes. Many of the variants seem possible at the Moment: The final appropriation of public goods by international private oligarchs, on the one hand, a Chance to recapture the state and its riches by the citizens on the other.

As with the risk potential of the Virus, a final assessment of the national and global economic and political processes taking place in the shadow of Corona is hardly responsible. There is a great poking around in the fog: even this debate about the big risks and possible opportunities is not adequately conducted in the big media, there is not even an attempt to clear the fog.

Sharp criticism of the major media

The media handling of the Virus is now also sharply criticized beyond the alternative media. This is how the science journalist Harald Wiesendanger describes why he is ashamed of his profession. On the other hand, the German Science journalists (WPK e. V.), Germany’s Association of science journalists has complained, in a brand letter to ministries of health, health authorities and authorities in impossible working conditions.

According to Verdi, Otfried Jarren, media scholar and president of the federal Media Commission in Switzerland, writes in the Evangelische Pressedienst that “the editors-in-chief of public television in Germany have abdicated”: “the people responsible for talk shows and entertainment have simple programming: Corona.“The staging of threat and executive power dominates. The internet portal “Übermedien” states that even in times of crisis it is “not the task of the media to play the extended Arm of the government”.

The self-praise of opinion makers

The opposite is self-praise, for example when the NDR claims that Corona is “the hour of quality media”. Or when the ARD raves about its own media performance and once again abuses the wide reach of the “Tagesschau” as an alleged Seal of quality:

Whenever things get really serious in our country and in the world, people in Germany watch the tagesschau. This simple truth is also confirmed in times of the corona crisis. We see this in the ranges. (…) But it is not the pure numbers that touch us. It is the fact that behind these figures are people who, in times of great uncertainty, turn their gaze towards us in order to seek orientation. We offer this orientation across all age groups.

The so-called “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” also contributes to this lobbying: “what ARD and ZDF are doing in these times is actually Public Law in the very best sense.“Never did the paid broadcasting contribution feel as meaningful as in the Times of Corona. The winners of the crisis are also the private broadcasters ,so RTL could just announce the best result of its history.

“No alternative: Angela Merkel becomes the undisputed crisis manager”

The media praise refers not only to their own achievements, but also to the work of the federal government. As T-Online attests: “the sharp Corona measures in Germany work so well.” And the “Spiegel” calls the current measures simply: “no alternative”. In the article, the magazine writes: “at the end of her time in the chancellery, Angela Merkel once again becomes the undisputed crisis manager.”

One consequence of this intensive media support for the government as well as for the measures it has ordered is a (Allegedly, according to polls) massive improvement in the reputation of some politicians. So supposedly no politician has ever been as popular as currently Markus Söder. And Corona generates, according to " Tagesschau": “great trust in Merkel and Co”. And according to ZDF “the crisis management of the federal government continues to meet with great satisfaction.”

The official media strategies

Are these media phenomena consequences of interventions or"guidelines”? Some official documents have recently received attention, which also comment on the communication strategy. This document by the Robert Koch Institute (starting on page 187) outlines a media strategy. For this, for example, it is necessary that “certain messages are communicated globally in a uniform manner”. But the focus is on local communication. Even the “pre-crisis phase” offers the opportunity to maintain continuous contacts with media and consumer groups, with which cooperation is possible even in the event of a crisis without excessive hysteria.“It may also be necessary” that appropriate crisis units or situation centres be activated at the federal and state level as well as at the RKI, Paul Ehrlich Institute and BZgA”, so that"in the event of a crisis, Information, measures and decisions are coordinated more quickly at the technical and political level and then further communicated in a uniform manner”.

In this context, in order to build trust with the population and the media, it is recommended that “one or a few persons with professional, communicative media experience (‘media heads’) are available to provide information to media representatives at regular (and possibly close) intervals”.

At this stage, at the latest with entry into an acute (pandemic) disease event in Germany, “communication media that enable a very fast update of information and can serve a high number of demands on the part of the population, such as television, Radio, citizen phones, text message systems and internet offers” would be the focus.

Tips for “crisis communication” for the Bundestag

In a paper published by the Bundestag in 2013, a “hypothetical pathogen Modi-SARS is already being used as a basis”, the spread is rapid: “the event begins in Asia in February, but is only recognized there a few weeks later in its Dimension/significance. In April, the first identified Modi-SARS case occurs in Germany.“Concerning the duration:” for the present scenario, a total period of three years is used with the assumption that a vaccine is developed, released and available in sufficient quantities after this period.“The proposed measures have now also been implemented in real terms: “Means of containment are, for example, school closures and cancellations of major events.“Nevertheless,” at least 7.5 million deaths are to be expected as a direct result of the infection for the entire period of three years.”

The suggestions for communication are: “in the initial phase, the occurrence of the disease and The Associated uncertainties are communicated (e.g. unknown pathogen, extent, origin, dangerousness not to be precisely described, countermeasures only to be formulated in general).“This communication is essential:” whether there are demands for resignation or other serious political consequences also depends on the crisis management and crisis communication of those responsible.”

Shock-paper from the Ministry of the interior

Some attention has also been paid to a recent alleged strategy paper from the Interior Ministry. Further information is available at fragdenstaat.de. this document works with shock figures of a questionable “Worst Case” and was allegedly scattered purposefully.

The data and assumptions on which the Worst-Case scenario is based are incomprehensible and excessively exaggerated. It is interesting that the paper describes communication about this scenario as elementary. To put it bluntly: the government wants to scare the people with an exaggerated disaster scenario and “leak” this document to selected media for this purpose. And lo and behold-first it was the mirror that fulfilled this wish and uncritically took up the Worst-Case scenario.

With the Virus against Russia

Many large media now accompany the own failure with a once again increased sentiment against Russia. And according to FAZ, the EU is also tracking “disinformation campaigns. Especially those from Russia " and works with Facebook etc.the most recent example of anti-Russian opinion-making can be found in the “Bild”, which claims: “Kremlin propagandists stir up Corona riots.”

Here, however, it should be emphasized that even in the major media, individual contributions are repeatedly found that positively refute the negative analysis – however, these good contributions are usually lost without consequences in the over-dominant stream of questionable contributions.