German journalist reveals government sets news agenda

This is a huge embarrassment for German publicly funded journalism, but it explains a lot as far as how and why some stories are reported.

The former head of German public broadcasting, Dr. Wolfgang Herles, revealed that the network reported stories and suppressed others based on what the government wanted.  The reporters would write the news geared "to Ms. Merkel’s liking."


“We have the problem that – now I’m mainly talking about the public [state] media – we have a closeness to the government. Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition (CSU, CDU, and SPD), with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class”.

Worse than the mainstream, government controlled and poll-tax funded media in Germany just agreeing with the ruling coalition, the stations actually took orders on what was and was not to be reported on. He said:

“…the topics about which are reported are laid down by the government.

“There are many topics that would be more important than what the government wants. But they, of course, want to deflect attention away from what doesn’t happen. Yet what doesn’t happen is often more important than what does happen – more important than gesture politics”.

While these orders are sent to media companies from unspecified places in the government, they are communicated to individual journalists by news executives using a new-speak jargon. Dr. Herles explains that while “there are, in fact, instructions from above”, when the editor in chief of ZDF communicated these instructions to his juniors he would merely say reporting should be framed in a way that “serves Europe and the public good”.

There would be no need to add in brackets that this actually means it should be reported “to Ms. Merkel’s liking”, as they would be understood as the true meaning.

“Today, one is not allowed to say anything negative about the refugees” said Dr. Herles, concluding: “This is government journalism and that leads to a situation in which people no longer trust us. This is a scandal.”

There has been very little reporting of the comments in the German media, and what there was has been critical of the remarks. Focus reported the comments of one centre-left media figure, Der Freitag newspaper editor Jakob Augstein who when asked whether there had ever been such “instructions from above”, said: “No, I deny vehemently there has ever been commands from the top”

The overt control of public broadcasting in Germany by government certainly explains a lot as far as why the New Year's story about the hundreds of complaints by women who say they were molested by refugees never saw the light of day.  But methinks the mainstream German press protests too much.

They may not receive "commands" from the government, but they apparently bow to pressure on how to report certain stories.  When hundreds of women across Germany are molested and the authorities are successful in covering it up, there has to be some collusion with all media, not just public broadcasting.  The story didn't break until January 4, and it was not reported by public broadcasting until the 6th.

In the U.S., we have self-censorship – a biased, politically correct version of news that is beholden not so much to government as it is to an ideology.  In our case, the government's views on issues like race and conservatives dovetail with the bulk of mainstream media opinions.  Government doesn't have to order the media to slant a story a certain way.  They already know what to print or say.

Both government control and ideological liberal control are betraying the truth – a truth these institutions owe the citizens.