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CIA-Linked German Newspaper Sinks to New Low

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung continues to lead the west's anti-Russia crusade

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, or FAZ, has dedicated an article to Sputnik News, dismissing it as a “propaganda channel” under the headline "All the news to Putin's taste". Funny, because many readers probably know FAZ as "that awful German newspaper that was infiltrated by the CIA."

The Frankfurt-based daily, peddling news to Washington's taste, writes: "After the news channel 'Russia Today' there is now a new Putin media toy. The digital web satellite of the Kremlin is called ‘Sputnik News’. It will provide the world with Russian propaganda".

To dismiss Russian news as propaganda has been German mainstream media’s favorite pastime since the Ukraine crisis began. Here is what FAZ calls news, massaging the causes that led to the Odessa tragedy on 2 May, 2014:

In the beginning, nationalistic football fans and pro-Russian activists beat each other up in the city center. Then they started shooting at each other. And at the end flames appeared from the windows of the Trade Union building. Dozens of people suffocated insider. All of them pro-Russian.

Nowhere in six pages did it occur to FAZ to ask why all the victims were pro-Russian. 

Reading on, FAZ’s reconstruction of the events gets even more entertaining:

Approximately 1,500 people, male football fans and pro-Ukrainian activists, started marching on the city Centre at 15:00. A few dozen guys from the pro-Russian people militia gathered a few blocks away with masks and batons. (…) The police, not many of them, tried to keep the two groups away from each other. Yet the pro-Russian activists attacked.

Outnumbered 100 to one, and kept away by police — “not many,” admits FAZ, but hey, people were just shooting at each other... — dozens of pro-Russian activists apparently managed to attack 1,500 pro-Ukrainians!

This is how the “Odessa tragedy” began, according to FAZ – fittingly, on April 1st. Nice joke. 

Quoting unnamed Odessa-based “independent investigators”, FAZ explains how the flames started: “pro-Russian activists made the fatal mistake of locking themselves into the building with petrol and bottles to prepare Molotov cocktails”.

We at RI published footage showing thugs throwing Molotov's cocktails at the Trade Union building. Such footage is widely available online. Will German media like FAZ ever catch up?

Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, FAZ has made a fool of itself with this kind of wretched reporting. Taking Kiev’s word at face value, while dismissing Moscow’s counterclaims as “propaganda”, has been FAZ’s standard operating procedure.

On the eve of Ukraine's October general elections, FAZ did an article on the rise of radicals like Oleh Lyashko under the headline “A longing for Peace in Ukraine”! What?

FAZ then blamed Ukraine's far-right on Moscow, claiming that "the longer Putin’s war in Donbass lasts, the more popular the radicals become in Ukrainian politics”. Incredible. 

On February 22nd, FAZ published a disgraceful hit piece about “Moscow’s new nationalism” headlined “The Nonsense with the Russian language”.

The article started with: “Who speaks Russian, is Russian. So legitimates Moscow its aggressions [note the plural] against immediate neighbors [plural again]”. Sure.

FAZ has developed a glossary to deal with Russia and the Ukraine crisis that would put US spokeswomen Psaki & Harf to shame.

Nearly every article features ”aggression”, “Putin’s war”, etc. – usually in a subliminal fashion, unrelated to the headline.

Consequently, many Germans have abandoned mainstream media for alternative and social media.

According to a representative survey commissioned February 2015 by ZAPP, a Media TV Magazine broadcast by NDR/ARD, 63% of Germans have “little or no trust” in their media. Almost as many do not trust coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

While the German mainstream blather on about “Russian propaganda”, their viewers call German media Lügenpress, “Lying press”, voted in 2014 as the best bad word and chanted during protest rallies.

Returning to the FAZ article on Sputnik: It essentially revolves around the usual allegations of “Putin’s trolls”, "conspiracy theorists”, “Kremlin’s media offensive”, etc.

Putin’s trolls” are readers who post unsympathetic comments in the online versions of German newspapers. On average 80% of these comments are critical of the article content.

Conspiracy theorists” are those (many) Germans who believe that Maidan was a staged protest, aimed at accomplishing a coup.

Media offensive” is the publishing of these and related views.

Then there are those who believe that FAZ is a CIA media toy. A book arguing precisely that topped Germany’s best-selling list last year. Its author, Udo Ulfkotte, was a veteran foreign correspondent for FAZ. We broke the news last year with an exclusive interview.

At the end of last year another book on the same topic by Mathias Broeckers made it to Germany’s top ten. Its title — “We are the good guys – How the Media manipulate us” — leaves little room for further comment.

Early this year, yet another book, “Understanding Russia: the struggle for the Ukraine, and the arrogance of the West”, by former ARD Moscow Correspondent Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, hit the market. It provides reader with background so often omitted by FAZ and Co.

Germans are devouring such books, all the while leaving newspapers in the kiosks.

FAZ's article on Sputnik, however, approaches objectivity when it finally mentions key people like Dmitri Kisselov and Margarita Simonjan, directors at Rossiya Segodnya, which owns Sputnik.

Kisselov is quoted as saying: "Sputnik shows the way to a multipolar world, based on paying attention to each country's interests, culture, history and tradition". 

Hence the reader finds out what Sputnik is about from its creators — and not only its detractors — only towards the end of the article.

Such a clumsy way to structure an article is nothing new for Germany’s leading newspapers.

It was satirized during a September, 2014 episode of Die Anstalt as a well-tried strategy — put a statement in the headline and leave journalistic standards for the final sentence.”

This is what FAZ’s article on Sputnik boils down to.

A statement in the headline: “Sputnik is a Propaganda Channel”. The journalistic standards — not many — can only be found in the final sentence.


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