Failure Of The Press

Who wants to understand the meaning of the Wikileaks scandal needs to turn to the international press. The German media-partner “Der Spiegel” has drastically misjudged the real scope of the US-documents. The “Assault Gun of Democracy” is jammed.

A slip-up with the delivery of the last issue of the German weekly magazine “Der Spiegel” brought a sudden end to the eager anticipation. It became known in the run up that Wikileaks had stricken once again. As has already been the case with the publication of secret records about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Der Spiegel” should again be the one to exclusively report back in Germany. The magazine was aiming to give us an understanding of the world view of the United States but only managed to cover domestic banalities. Dirk Niebel? Weird choice. Horst Seehofer? Erratic. Angela Merkel? Risk averse. Within a few hours the German internet had been flooded with malicious comments forecasting the swan song of this platform. The revelations seemed simply too banal.

Reporting with astonishing provinciality

“Der Spiegel” has severely misjudged the actual reach of the documents with its embarrassing political navel-gazing. Already on the first day of the publications, the Guardian wrote that US ambassadors were instructed to hunt down intimate information about top UN personnel as well as to obtain DNA, iris scans and finger prints of numerous other diplomats. While Germany was slagging over the trivia of partisan quarrels, the New York Times was concerned about arms deliveries from North Korea to the Iranian regime in Teheran.

An astonishing provinciality in the way of reporting was reflected in the comments about the disclosures in the following days. Where was the mistrust when, days before the disclosures, US-top-diplomats were already making panicky calls in order to calm down various heads of state? Where was the journalistic thrill when it became apparent that the disclosures about German politicians were at best a side note in what was to follow? Only now, after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by Interpol after an international arrest warrant, and umpteen US-companies have tried everything to distance themselves as far as possible from the disclosure platform, has the German media landscape seemed to finally realize the actual impact of the revelations.

Browsing Leviathan’s journal

Now is the opportunity to make up for lost time. This, as anextraordinary historical precedent, is like a journalistic Eldorado. It offers a chance to give unvarnished and deep insights into the evaluations of the last remaining superpower of the planet, to browse the journal of Leviathan and to let the world know about it.

While we could be reading about the fueling of “anti-American resentment”, or the yet to be proven endangerment of informants, we rather find the prevailing interest of the media to be that in the accusations of rape against Julian Assange.

If the affair about Wikileaks has taught us one thing, then it is the knowledge that the internet has a tremendous influence on our perception of the world. Interested readers are no longer dependent on the information in the German daily papers and magazines when primary documents are free for interpretation and accessible online. Should the “assault guns of democracy” continue to have stoppages, others will take over the work.

Read more in this debate: Sahar el-Nadi, Daniel Fallenstein, Alvin Adams.

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