With Media Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Davids Medienkritik takes Der Spiegel to task for again pandering to the addiction to anti-American innuendo.

Torture in the name of freedom? Since when has America advocated torture as a means of promoting freedom? When someone is tortured or abused in a German jail in violation of established standards, does that mean the German government is torturing in the name of democracy as well? When illegal immigrants suffocate or commit suicide in German custody is that also in the name of democracy? It is as if the United States had never addressed the issue. It is as if the McCain bill torture ban had never been passed by Congress and signed by the President.

This is a dangerously cynical equation of two concepts. Particularly in a Europe where the general public is already so jaded that many no longer believe in the concept of freedom. Why? Because instead of reporting on the systematic violation of human rights in nations like North Korea and Iran the German media finds it necessary to exploit two year old photos of Abu Ghraib for profit (again and again). Never mind that Saddam’s Abu Ghraib was a thousand times worse or that hundreds of thousands are starving to death in Kim Jong Il’s gulags. There is no need for context in the world of asymmetric journalism.

I don’t doubt that torture is a blight on America’s good name, and it is a sin that needs to be rooted out. Many are of the opinion that torture is not, in fact, effective. (It must seem ironic to anti-Americans that John Yoo, who has written in support of the idea that the Constitution grants the executive expansive powers in times of war, happens to think that “answers extracted under torture might not be reliable” [answer to question 11] — but that won’t, of course, stop the demonization.) In fact, American policy appears to have gradually shifted away from reliance on torture. However, due to the slowness of the process of discovery, some of the worst abuses did not emerge until some time after they had been committed, and (hopefully) dealt with.

In the United States, one of the foremost critics of torture, who writes eloquently and usually does not fly off the handle, is Andrew Sullivan. Sadly, he is one of only a few who backs up his critiques by looking for facts to support his accusations. The rest, unfortunately, seem to regard torture less as reprehensible in itself, than as a vehicle by which to score political points against the current Administration. While Sully’s writings sometimes may seem to lean in that direction (and some have accused him of ulterior motives), they are nonetheless well thought-out, and do not get in the way of his desire to see the West triumphant. His aim primarily is to have the West win as cleanly as possible, and however idealistic, it is a worthy goal.

I regretfully observe, though, that it is far too easy for media outlets to capitalize on the market for sensationalist reporting. Not that Der Spiegel is really regarded as a font of serious writing (which does not mean that it’s never published thought-provoking material). In fact, I doubt Der Spiegel is any more highly regarded as a serious policy journal than, say, Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone.

But as Ray D. notes:

The irony of it all is that publications like SPIEGEL would not even have the freedom to print this exploitative trash had it not been for the massive sacrifice in lives, blood and toil of American soldiers to liberate Germany from Fascism and defend it from Communism.

No context. No differentiation. Shock value. Manipulation. Emotionalism. Sensationalism. And then the same publication dares lecture us on the dangers of anti-Americanism.

That’s legacy media for you right there. Well, it’s not Davids Medienkritik for nothing!

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]