Hart Aber Fair (Tough But Fair) ran last night on Channel One (ARD) in Germany. The chat forum topic.....right-wing violence directed against refugees and asylum seekers.
They ran through a lengthy news piece (maybe fifteen minutes) where they talked about the trend, the fires, the Molotov Cocktails, guys who've had the Sedition Act applied in court, and the fear of asylum children about the threats now existing. It was a decently packaged information documentary....loaded with emotion....and should have paved the way for a deeply negative push-back from the guests (SPD's Boris Pistorius, journalist Dunja Hayali, Joachim Lenders (head of the German police union in Hamburg), Georg Mascolo (state-TV journalist) , and Frauke Petry (AfD Party).
It was for all practical purposes....Petry against the moderator and the guests. Even I would have admitted that after watching the lead-in video deal about the 'terrible' fires, threats, and such.
There are three observations I could make from the show. First, there are a number of people who see government as the enemy. They can't influence anything.....they can't change anything....they can't send any signal about frustrations.....so this violence angle is their form of resolution. I disagree with this and believe that a 'frustration-vote' usually sends a better message without all the violence necessary.
Second, Petry actually met the opposition head-on.....with humor sprinkled around the edges throughout the entire show. At one point......to note 'lying press' which is a theme that many in the right-wing movements discuss.....she shifted the term to a new phrase....."Pinocchiopresse" (Pinocchio Press). That got the crowd to laughing for a moment. If you asked me for a one-word phrase to describe Petrys performance on the show.....'clever' would be the word.
So, onto my third and final observation.....which came to me on the bus this morning as rode across Wiesbaden and Mainz. For anyone who is generally angry about the fires, Molotiv Cocktails, and damages being done on public property.....well.....why not the same anger and frustration when the anti-capitalists do their games? I sat and watched various cars burned and heavy damage inflicted upon Frankfurt earlier this year by the anti-capitalists. People in Frankfurt were told to stay out of this area of town and hooligans basically ran the cops into the ground for about six hours.
The news media? They talked up the theme of the anti-capitalists and made them appear with good honest convictions. These are the same type characters who did the video of the evil right-wing anti-immigrant crowd now. Why one group is evil and the one totally opposite? That's the odd thing.....there's no logical explanation for it. Either all Molotov Cocktails, public damage and fires are bad......or they aren't all bad.
In some ways, Petry and the phrase Pinocchiopresse work well for AfD.
There are a hundred days now before the mid-March election in three German states. If Petry goes out for the AfD Party and makes a hundred-odd appearances,....then public sentiment may shift toward the AfD in a significant way. I'm not predicting a twenty-five percent win in each state....but I could see two states with a fifteen-to-twenty percent win for the party....with the CDU hurting from an image problem.
The state-run TV apparatus? In some ways.....if they target Petry and continue a negative trend against the party.....they are doing them more of a favor and helping to mold public perception in favor of AfD and it's themes. Just the Pinocchio Press talk alone might be a difficult problem for the state-run news media. Imagine a hundred signs sprinkled around some protest with a Pinocchio figure in the draw and a long nose....with the state-run news media folks listed under the figure.