Journalists in Germany who are harassed by censorship by US companies should not count on the solidarity of the taz editorial staff: in a guest article, not only the RT deletions are justified, but also the critics are defamed. A testimony to poverty – and large parts of the media landscape react similarly.
If anywhere in the world a medium is restricted in distribution for political reasons, then the taz is at the forefront of defending freedom of expression – as long as this defense fits its own geopolitical orientation. Actually, the taz editorial staff (like many other German editors) should sound the alarm at the moment: to the fact that now in this country quite openly dissidents of networks, which are central to the political opinion formation, are deleted. And the fact that the deletions are not based on the sentence of a German judge for insulting or inciting people, etc., but that they are carried out because of divergent opinions and arbitrary decisions of a US corporation.
No solidarity from the taz
But what is taz doing in response to the deletion of RT's German-language YouTube channels? The editorial team invites a guest author who not only tries to defame, but in the article also justifies political censorship by YouTube:
"Was the deletion of the channels wrong? Of course not.“
The article opens up a whole range of defamations: against the Russian point of view and against the German critics of the deletions. More details below. In political and intellectual terms, the contribution is not really on the level that one would have to deal with it in more detail. Nevertheless, it should be discussed here - because on the one hand, the article is representative of the position of parts of the German media landscape. And on the other hand, the deletion process is about a very important principle: If the deletion of the RT channels is accepted in silence or even applauded, then one accepts a precedent for a procedure that can also hit you yourself if necessary.
Just out of self-protection (if not for freedom of expression or solidarity with RT colleagues), German journalists would have to stage an outcry. But the remains. There are examples of how the "proof" of "misinformation" spread by RT is intended to justify censorship by YouTube. However, ZDF has recently failed with such an attempt, as RT comprehensibly describes in this article.
Perhaps I am naive - but I am shocked by this (at best) lack of solidarity by large parts of the German media landscape: I find it politically risky and humanly cool. As one of the very few exceptions in the German media landscape, "Telepolis" is also critical of the deletions and the strange reactions of German media:
"I hope to save the honor of the journalistic guild that the silence or even cheering of the censorship measure is due to pure fear and not to simple-mindedness.“
No solidarity from the German Journalists' Association
In addition to the questionable content of the taz article addressed here, the author, Steffen Grimberg, was elected chairman of the Berlin-Brandenburg Journalists' Association (part of the DJV) a year ago. Grimberg appears in the guest article in the taz as a freelance author - and not in his function as a DJV functionary. Of course, his right to express himself as a freelance author (and not as a functionary) remains untouched – even in the current, questionable form: According to Grimberg, the Russian reactions are part of "Putin's decomposition strategy", the term "censorship" for the deletion process is "tinnef", and the current German-Russian "information war" is an "RT myth".
But doesn't Grimberg still have a special responsibility through his trade union function to stand up against censorship and for the solidarity of colleagues? Does the article also shed light on the trade unionist Grimberg? His union DJV currently expresses itself so on the processes:
"The work of RT has nothing to do with serious journalism," says DJV Chairman Everywhere. "This channel spreads disinformation and Russian propaganda. YouTube's deletion was long overdue. But to speak of a media war is absurd. There is an urgent need for rhetorical disarmament from the Russian side." In addition, it could not be explained anyway what the decision of the US group had to do with Germany.
Defending the principle of diversity of opinion has nothing to do with the political content of the respective medium. By condemning censorship, one does not get along with all the content of RT. I would also protest if YouTube, Facebook or Twitter censored the taz. Where is this supposed to end if we accept such arbitrariness of a US corporation in the political discourse in Germany?
No questions about censorship and the role of government
Would it not be the task of the taz author, especially as a journalist official, to contribute to the clarification of the questions around the process? Because these are questions that can potentially affect all media in the future. And all the more so since with the harassment against KenFM against the Facebook channels of the corona measures critics and now against RT DE dangerous precedents were allowed. The questions are: What should be the relationship between the state and the tech company? Can the US corporations continue to intervene in the political discourse in Germany via their "domestic law"? How can the public-private division of labor in censorship on the Internet be ended? Grimberg could also have cleared up the misconception that censorship is generally only possible on the part of the state. That on the one hand this view is outdated and that on the other hand the German government bears a share of responsibility for the deletions by YouTube is clear to everyone whose IQ is at the level of body temperature.
What does it mean, as the article says, that critics would "bravely speak of censorship" in the process? Are the deletions for the taz not censorship? In view of the deletions, one can (like the taz) take the questionable position that this censorship is justified. But the nature of the process cannot be denied: it is quite open political censorship. And do the taz and Grimberg really see no co-responsibility of the German government in the political deletions by US networks? Is the toleration of censorship by the German legislator not cooperation through planned inaction?
No alternative to the brave fight against (thought) crimes
The consequences of the YouTube action in the form of Russian reactions are "too painful," writes Grimberg, "even if the Kremlin is serious about its threats to restrict the work of German and other Western media in Russia." This is a doubly strange attitude for a journalist committed to the union: on the one hand, he justifies the censorship of part of his colleagues. On the other hand, he is deeply concerned about the potentially serious consequences for the other part of his colleagues. According to this view of the taz and its guest author, these consequences seem almost like the "necessary" price for an inconvenient, but alternative approach by the US corporation against the RT journalists.