"The mainstream media can only dream of the kind of growth that the alternative media are now experiencing. Basically, the mainstream media are losing. - more importantly, believability ratings have moved over to alternative media sources."
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Willy Wimmer is one of the most prominent and vocal critics of the German establishment's Russia policy, and one of the most convincing, because he comes from the German conservative political establishment himself.
A former close colleague of chancellor Helmut Kohl, he is a former State Secretary of the German Defense Ministry and leading politician of the CDU party .
This is an excerpt from a longer interview which originally appeared at RT Deutsch. Translated from the German for RI by Susan Neumann.
Florian Hauschild: For a member of the CDU [Christian Democratic Union,] you express yourself quite rebelliously, both in your publications and your public speeches. What's happened domestically in the last few years that you, a 72-year-old who once worked alongside Helmut Kohl, can beat out the younger ones in terms of critical thinking and criticism of the system?
Willy Wimmer: You’re never too old to learn. Somehow I’ve got the impression that you can talk more openly among so-called average citizens than you can in left-wing circles. I’m in an environment in which one is more tolerant and liberal when it comes to dealing with different positions. This has been my experience as the number of friends as gotten significantly bigger.
The problems we’re dealing with have expanded our horizons. By this I mean the personal experiences we’ve had with personalities who have spent their lives in other political groups. I want to deliberately reference Mr Lafontaine, who demonstrated great personal courage by rejecting the [ethnic] wars against Yugoslavians. He also represented a fiscal course of action that could have kept us free of the devastating effects of maximizing shareholder value.
There never would have been a "lean government" under Lafontaine. There never would have been the distortions that are now set up to kill us. [As a Eurosceptic], Peter Gauweiler was a parliamentary exception, because he was among the few who knew what keeps the country "together at its core." His resignation [as Deputy Chairman of the CSU] is a loss that can’t be compensated.
Just these two examples show that we can’t expect the younger generation to bear the burden [of problems] of such dimension. For the first time in modern German history, we are in a position to pass on our experience. This is an absolute imperative for all those that know the world. The others are just now getting to know the world. I am thinking of the images in the old Bonner Chamber, how the young visitors gathered around an almost grandfatherly- looking former Chancellor Kohl.
Florian Hauschild: You mentioned the strong transatlantic influence on German politics. What role does the media play in all this?
Willy Wimmer: At one time, the German press set the standard, and one can almost name the date on which they degenerated into a "moral cudgel press." This is in connection with the name of one NATO official, Jamie Shea, who thrashed all NATO countries in the vulgar war of aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and was able to thrash them through his use of the media.
As if one hadn’t already experienced this kind of thing in Germany, as if freedom of speech had never before deteriorated under a new seizure of power in Germany. Those in the German press were practically foaming at the mouth. This is the impression one gets with the drooling sweet talk over the illegal war against Iraq and that which followed as a coup in Ukraine. When you look at the number of distributions for the once major newspapers or magazines in Germany, or if you pay attention to the furious reactions from customers of public radio and talk shows, it doesn’t help.
The German Federal Government, who insults the people by calling them “vermin” or “dimwits,” can at any time use the media to raise the inclination to go to war and let it escalate. This of course makes it clear to what extent the formerly respectable German press has deteriorated. If you can have the laws of a country repealed, like in the case of a coup, and you no longer know where the terror resides in your own country, then you don’t need much more in order to come to a withering conclusion.
According to George Friedman (Stratfor), we Germans became an early target for every form of British and American propaganda. This propaganda now in German newspapers and electronic media has poisoned the relationship with our Russian neighbor. One can hardly grasp the dimension of it, when one considers the extent to which the Russian people and the Soviet government made it possible for Germany to unite itself.
At least since the bombing of Belgrade, our country has again joined in on trying to remove a great nation and its government from its position of power, all for the selfish reasons of a third party. You just can’t see it any other way, when you see what is printed in the hate publications against the Russian Federation and its top statesmen. It is no consolation that they’re able to draw their own conclusions about the political disposition of Germany and the West. What’s happening in the German moral cudgel press is simply irresponsible. Unfortunately there’s only one way to look at it: it's just slobbering opinions rather than factual information.
Florian Hauschild: We at RT could say a thing or two about all this. As a media company financed from Russian taxpayers' money we allow the Russian side of things to be told. We also see ourselves under attack from, as you say, “hate publications.” But through RT there is also a vibrant alternative media scene that has developed in Germany. What is your forecast for 2016? If the alternative media continue to grow in scope and impact, do you believe that this can lead to a sort of “self-cleansing" in German mainstream journalism?
Willy Wimmer: We are witnessing a radical change, as we have never before seen in the press. I could speculate on how it all got to this point. I can spare myself the conjecture if I look at the number of the printed distributions sold. The people are having their say in the fact that they’re canceling their subscriptions. The drop in revenue would be much more dramatic if it were not for the obligatory tax-like fees [that Germans pay] for radio and television. The loss of credibility in both sectors has already been developing due to the fact that the German press had campaigned vehemently for the NATO war.
The mainstream media can only dream of the kind of growth that the alternative media is now experiencing. Basically, the mainstream media can’t take it anymore. Much worse for them is that the believability ratings have moved over to alternative media sources. Whoever chooses to be careless with the truth and is not accurate disappears. In German mainstream media, they go to the appropriate television or radio broadcasting board of governors.
RT came at the best possible time, as long as one sees freedom of the press as a basic element of a democratic state. RT represents the necessary correcting mechanism at a time in which opinions are purposefully manipulated. The high priest of the mainstream has to suddenly begin dealing with facts and reality. We can see every day how the mainstream ignores facts.
Generally one can say that a discernable international presence of the Russian Federation has the power to decide the degree of our own freedom of movement in the Western system that has increasingly become more colonial in character. That’s why work is being done on behalf of the US in the Baltic States and in Poland, to create an imaginary wall between us and our Russian neighbor.
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