A member of parliament from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) this week called upon a leading national newspaper to drop their “emotionally charged” and “misleading” pro migrant campaign. The clearly offended editor struck back, releasing a public statement calling him a “hypocrite” and lacking in Christian charity.
Although no steps have been taken toward achieving it yet, it is now official German policy to reduce the number of migrants arriving in 2016, to perhaps as low as 500,000 from over 1,500,000 in 2015. Apparently working to further that goal, CDU member of parliament Philipp Lengsfeld published a press release yesterday explaining why Bild’s ‘Wir Helfen (We’re helping) #RefugeesWelcome’ campaign was doing more harm than good, and calling for it to end in its “current form”.
Remarking that he had long agreed, and even marched in support of the idea of “Refugees Welcome”, Mr. Lengsfeld said the concept was being misappropriated by Bild who were expanding the welcome from genuine refugees fleeing conflict to all foreigners. Mr. Lengsfeld stated the paper was using “emotionally charged” images of young children, in once case a August 2015 AFP photo of a young girl being passed through barbed wire at the Hungarian border, and so illegally entering Europe to do this.
By putting out a “misleading” message was essentially an invitation for all to leave their own countries and to come to Germany, a move that was “unhelpful”, as at the present: “Germany and Europe are debating the reduction of [migrant] numbers, securing Europe’s borders”, and the campaign was therefore contrary to government policy.
Perhaps taken aback by being asked to drop the campaign by a member of parliament, Bild editor Julian Mr. Lengsfeld took it upon himself to respond personally to the request, in a letter posted to Twitter. Calling the member of the Christian Democratic Union party un-Christian and hypocritical, Mr. Reichelt called himself “shocked at your request” and wrote: “we are “not helpful” for your political goal. Welcome to the free world, Mr. Lengsfeld. It is not our job… to be helpful”.
— Julian Reichelt (@jreichelt) February 17, 2016
Despite the parliamentarian having affirmed his support for genuine refugees in his original statement, the angered Mr. Lengsfeld then proceeded to school him on why migrants leave war zones, citing barrel bombs and a “total failure of Western policy” towards conflict. The Bild editor suggested instead of trying to restrict the distribution of “emotionally charged” pictures, he could instead “focus your energy to address the cause of the photos, not the photos themselves”.
An account of the spat between the two men featured in Bild as an editorial last night.
Parliamentarian Lengsfeld responded only by Twitter to the angry letter, remarking the “style, pitch and reasoning” of the response were “not good”.
This very public disagreement is not the first time recently the news in Germany has featured the relationship between newsmen themselves and politicians. Breitbart London reported on the apparently normally cosy relationship between the upper reaches of the government and the state owned media apparatus earlier this month, after the recently retired network editor claimed broadcasters took orders directly from the government.
Remarking at a panel discussion broadcast on German radio that the public were losing faith in the media to be impartial and calling this a “scandal”, former ZDF bureau chief Dr. Wolfgang Herles said: “we have a closeness to the government. Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition [the CDU and others], with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class”.
Dr. Herles said not only were what stories should and shouldn’t be reported on “laid down” by the government, but they were framed in ways that would be “to Ms. Merkel’s liking”. His statement came just weeks after the same network was compelled to make a public apology for failing to report the politically sensitive topic of migrant rapes and sex assaults over New Year.
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