Merkel’s ex-spy boss causes outrage with criticism of public broadcasting
Several politicians in Chancellor Merkel's party have distanced themselves from their co-party member, CDU Bundestag candidate Hans-Georg Maaßen. The reason for this is the former spy chief's criticism of public broadcasting.
Published: July 5, 2021, 3:22 pm
“If the fundamental values of the party for which he wants to move into the Bundestag mean nothing to Mr. Maaßen, he should look for another party,” Lower Saxony’s CDU leader Bernd Althusmann told regional daily Neue Osnabrück Zeitung.
The former CDU general secretary Ruprecht Polenz wrote on Twitter: “I would advise my party to initiate an elimination process. Yes, even in the election campaign. Right away.” Germans will head to the polls on Sunday 26 September to elect a new Bundestag.
Maaßen had called the public service broadcaster and in particular the ARD a leftist mouthpiece and accused it of “manipulation of opinion”. It is “a shame” he said that no regulators correct this. “If you see that there are connections between the ‘Tagesschau‘ or between people who work for the public broadcaster and ‘Tagesschau‘, from the left and left-wing extremist scene, then that would really be worth investigating,” said Maaßen, the former President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence service.
In an interview at the beginning of July 2021, Maaßen called for the editors of the Tagesschau to be subjected to an attitude test.
The biography of some editors should be put to the test to see whether they also have the necessary character aptitude for the profession, he demanded. It is not clear who Maaßen was referring to with his comment. Perhaps he was fingering Patrick Gensing, a “fact finder” from the ARD, who has repeatedly been accused of one-sided reports and in-depth contacts in the anti- fascist milieu.
Gensing holds peculiar views for a journalist. He has declared facts to be of little importance: “I believe that it is easier to win over readers if an attitude is taken in journalism than if simply facts are accumulated. In my eyes, that’s not journalism at all.” Another one of his nuggets is that no data can be trusted. “This belief in numbers, some of which exists, is misleading.”
The Antifa journalist has been reporting on “right-wing exremists” and “anti-Semitism” by the former on the website publikative.org. Nothing has escaped the critical gaze of the Internet portal for which the left-wing Amadeo Antonio Foundation is responsible.
For some time now, the newly founded AfD has been in Gensing’s sights: They enjoy spreading “fear”, he wrote on publikative.org. and warned that the party could “further enhance new right-wingers and conspiracy ideological positions”. Gensing is not just any blogger, he also works as an editor for tagesschau.de, the online presence of Germany’s most important news program. And there, too, he accuses the AfD of “anti-Semitic populism”.
His work for tagesschau.de gives Gensing the advantage of not having to appear as an anti-fascist journalist during his research, but of being able to wrap himself in a respectable cloak as an employee of the public service broadcaster. However, the gist of his articles often appear again on the denunciation portal publikative.org.
Two other Antifa journalists Andreas Speit and Andrea Röpke, like Gensing, both write not only for the taz or the SPD anti-fascist organization Blick nach Rechts, but also found their way to tagesschau.de as “right-wing extremism experts”.
Freedom of the press and broadcasting had constitutional status in Germany, Maaßen explained on Twitter. Independent journalism and politically independent public service broadcasting are essential for democracy. Nevertheless, he criticized the biased reporting by ARD and ZDF. However, there should not be any “mind control” of journalistic work, he added.
The criticism against Maaßen has continued unabated, however. The German Association of Journalists asked him to apologize while the Green politician Ricarda Lang criticized the fact that CDU leader Armin Laschet has not yet condemned Maaßen’s statements. “This man is dangerous,” she wrote on Twitter.
The chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in the Lower Saxony state parliament, Dirk Toepffer, called on Maaßen to leave the CDU. “Anyone who demands an attitude test for journalists, falls behind in the darkest of times,” he warned on Twitter.
The outrage also followed after the ex-spy gave an interview to the London Times in which he said the CDU had “become a club for electing the chancellor under the slogan ‘We want Merkel re-elected’, but the actual political and programmatic substance is gone”. Maaßen was alluding to the party’s leftist agenda of allowing in an unlimited number of asylum seekers.
“[Germans] simply cannot understand why ever more people are coming into this country even though they obviously have no right to asylum; why we aren’t deporting them and why politicians just put up with the fact that the people here are falling victim to these migrants.”
Maaßen was forced out in 2018 after he publicly contradicted Merkel’s claims that immigrants had been “hunted down” in the city of Chemnitz by right-wing mobs during civil unrest. His comments rocked Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
According to the former spy boss, he aims at building a conservative alliance within the party as an MP for the CDU in southern Thuringia. He will be up against former Olympic gold medallist Frank Ullrich, 63, who is representing the Social Democrats.
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