The media war

On 28.09.2021, the US media group YouTube blocked two YouTube channels of RT Deutsch without warning and deleted all videos and interviews previously available on it.

As a reason for this drastic encroachment on freedom of the press and information, YouTube said that RT had been "issued a warning for uploading content" that violated YouTube's "COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy." The rights for RT-DE video publications had thus been suspended. RT then tried to "bypass the restrictions" and used a different RT channel. As a result, ”both channels were closed for violating YouTube's terms of service."

RT German will take legal action against the blocking. The Russian Foreign Ministry wants to discuss the blocking of RT-DE channels at the next meeting of the UNESCO Executive Council.

If it were a question of "medical misinformation", there should have been an examination by experts of a corresponding panel. Especially in the medical field, there are many analyzes that lie in the scientific dispute and are discussed. It is rightly stated in the Press Code of the German Press Council under section 14 on medical reporting: "Reports on medical topics should avoid an unreasonably sensational presentation. (...) Research results that are at an early stage should not be presented as completed or almost completed."

This applies to media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and affects every medium. Because the pandemic is not just about medical findings or assumptions, it is about the personal rights of all citizens, which are massively and restrictively interfered with. Different views on this - in Germany and worldwide – are a fact and must not be suppressed or defamed. It is imperative that this be made public.

The press Code in Germany must therefore be rated higher than the requirements of a US media group that does business with the data of its users. The task of the Federal Government is to protect the freedom of the press and information on German soil, even against such a group. If there are doubts about reports - whether at RT Deutsch, Spiegel, ARD or BILD-Zeitung - an unbiased examination must be made. On COVID-19 and everything connected with it, the world looks very differently. Freedom of the press means being able and having to report on it.

The polarization of society

In Germany – unlike in other countries - there is a sharp social polarization, to which politics and the media have largely contributed. Under the title "Law for the Protection of the Population in an epidemic situation of National Importance", first adopted at the end of March 2020, a kind of "pandemic emergency legislation", new regulations and orders have been issued for more than 18 months, to which the residents of Germany must submit. An unelected "Corona Cabinet" chaired by the Federal Chancellery replaces not only the federal government, but also the Bundestag in the event of a pandemic.

Those who critically question this development and the increasing disenfranchisement of the population, those who point out other aspects and analyses, are not perceived as "dissenters" and as enrichment in a difficult debate, but as "opponents" and as "deniers" defamed. This stigmatization does not stimulate thought and inquiry, it divides society. Not only politicians participate, but also public and private media, associations and institutions. Not the education of the population and the protection of freedom of the press and information, but defamation of dissenters are increasing.

Lack of transparency

The Chancellery refuses to make the internal Corona minutes of meetings and debates of the Chancellery with the federal states available to the public. This was the result of the response of the Chancellery to a request of the left faction in the Bundestag at the beginning of September.

At the end of September 2021, it became known that the "Corona Cabinet" also opposes a fixed date on which the COVID-19 measures and thus the pandemic emergency legislation should be ended.

It is not foreseeable when and how the countless, confusing arrangements, regulations and restrictions on freedom will be abolished. The scandalous dismantling of clinics, the privatization of the health care system, in which not only intensive care beds are missing, but also at least 100,000 well-trained and paid medical workers, is almost not an issue in politics and the media.

But back to RT German. If the deletion of RT Deutsch's YouTube channels had actually taken place because of "medical misinformation", interviews, reports, documentaries that had nothing to do with COVID-19 should not have been deleted. So it can be assumed that RT Deutsch was not about COVID-19. So what then?

A task force against information from Russia

The stigmatization of RT Deutsch in politics and the media did not begin with the emergence of the coronavirus in the spring of 2020, but dates back to March 2015. At that time, against the background of what was happening in Ukraine and Crimea, the heads of state and government of the 28 EU states decided to form the East StratCom Task Force, which was integrated into the European External Action Service. Information from Russia was generally declared "disinformation".

The task force - originally a military term for a temporary union of various units of the US Navy from the time of the Second World War - is a team of experts in communication, journalism and Russian studies (science of the Russian language and literature). The task of this team is to counter "Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns". The EU's External Action Service has drawn up an "Action Plan on Strategic Communication" against Russia and the "disinformation" it spreads.

A website of the East StratCom Task Force now provides detailed information about the campaign of the "EU against disinformation". In 2018, a Action Plan against disinformation was launched, which also provides for special training and further education of journalists.

Insulting the intelligence of Europeans

In November 2016, the EU Parliament debated and passed a resolution to take action against "Russian and ISIS propaganda". The EU must "respond to the information war of Russia and Islamist terrorists," it said. "Attention and positive news must increase, the EU must "train the understanding of information". In the new media language, this means "classifying".

The previous debate was based on a report by the Group of EU Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), written by Polish MEP Anna Fotyga. Russia wants to "divide Europe and instill fear," wrote Fotyga. The same goal was pursued by terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (IS or ISIS). Europe is under "increasing pressure from disinformation from countries like Russia and from non-state actors like ISIS/Daesh, Al Qaeda and other violent terrorist jihadist groups,” the report said. "Pseudo-news agencies and Internet trolls" would "stir up violence and challenge democratic values." The citizens of the USA are also targets of Russian propaganda, said the deputy FOTYGA. "Many tools like Russia Today" would be used for this.

Spanish MEP Javier Couso Permuy rejected the report, saying, alluding to the McCarthy era in the US in the 1950s, that the report "feeds hysteria against Russia and neo-McCarthyism in Europe". The report is "dangerous" and leads to a "confrontation", said the Spanish MP: "It is an attack on freedom of information. To equate terrorist groups such as Daesh, which broadcast live videos of torture and murder, with a state that belongs to the UN Security Council and other multilateral organisations and with which we have disagreements, is an insult to the intelligence of Europeans."

Unlike politicians and most of the media, which have systematically intensified their political and media confrontation against Russia since 2015, the public in Germany overslept this important and dangerous debate in the EU Parliament years ago. As the British colleague Peter Hitchens (Mail on Sunday) said some time ago, the public must be concerned about what they learn from politics and the media and what they do not learn. Or - with a view to the deletion of the RT-German YouTube channels - should not experience.

When a different view of what is happening in the world is no longer allowed, but defamed as "disinformation", there is no freedom of the press.