Reader and commenter Jeff had asked in the comments to this post:
…I’d be curious for your opinion about the relationship between the European people and their media. Do European people hold these anti-American opinions because it’s the main (and sometimes only) perspective their media provide, or are the media simply providing the perspective that the European people are demanding?
I think that my response is a good enough summary of the problem to stand on its own as a post, so here it is in a somewhat edited form:
There is a kind of interaction here, people are used to a steady diet of anti-Americanism, and that serves as the background for what people expect from the media.
You have to keep one fundamental fact in mind: Anti-Americanism isn’t based on envy towards America’s greater wealth and power, rather anti-Americanism is designed to prevent its recipients from feeling envy towards Americans. The American way of life, and doing business, is undoubtedly producing better results than the various European ones, and is undermining the position of the European elites. To limit the damage, they have the media they own, and the public broadcasters they control, put out said propaganda, so that the unwashed masses, as they see us, won’t want to emulate those uncouth Americans.
Conversely, most people know that something is going wrong over here, but have invested so much work in what they own, that they desperately want to hear that all that time and effort has not been in vain. So they are more than willing to hear that American wealth and power comes with an unacceptably high price. This makes them eager consumers of anti-American propaganda, and they will come back for more on a daily basis.
In other words, anti-Americanism and socialism have become the new opiate of the masses, to quote Karl Marx. In a way this is absolutely hilarious, considering that he also had said: ‘History occurs twice, the first time as tragedy, the the second time as farce’ (alright, the quote is a bit streamlined :), for what could be more farcical than present-day Europe.