I sat and analyzed a story, a fake-story, and a fake-fake-story. The fake-fake-story? I'll get to this in the end.
This all surrounds Breitbart's BIG story from the 3rd of January, entitled: "Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve".
The basis of the story is that in Dortmund....a large crowd of non-German men (roughly 1,000) appeared in Dortmund, chanting Akhbar-slogans....making for trouble against the German cops, and at some stage tried to light up Germany's oldest church in Dortmund....on New Year's Eve.
In recent days, a number of news organizations have jumped on this as fake news (Media Matters out of the US, ARD from state-run/public-TV in Germany, etc).
So, here are the facts.
First, like most news organizations of today....Breitbart goes and reads through literally hundreds of news publications for 're-use'. On occasion, they might conduct interviews or be lucky to have the right guy in place to watch an event unfold. But the bulk of their news is simply a copy of an original story.
Most of the time, Brietbart (probably 98-percent of the time), will identify the newspaper in question. It'll link the story to the piece. In this case, they did link a Dortmund local news paper which did have some elements of this story.....like the large non-German crowd in the center of town and the active use of German cops to ensure safety.
The piece on St. Reinold's Church being set alight? Well....that doesn't appear in the Dortmund news.
Where does it appear? Bild. A fake story on Bild? Well....no. Bild did a eight-line piece, which they are pretty capable at these short but true reports. What they say in their short piece is that a number of individuals in the downtown area, near the St. Reinold's Church....were firing off "uncontrolled pyrotechnics".
Uncontrolled pyrotechnics? It's rocket-scientist jargon for fireworks which are fired in a manner considered unsafe for mortal man. That's what you would say in Alabama....for individuals who would hold a fireworks rocket in their hand....light it up.....and literally throw it in a direction without much regard for safety. This usually when haystacks catch on fire or damage to property occurs.
Bild then goes on to state: "....(the fireworks) flew into the crowd, but was also thrown in the direction of the police. A rocket struck a lattice on the facade of the Reinold church."
Yeah, an uncontrolled rocket (or two) had hit the roofing area of the St. Reinold Church. They didn't say it set on fire or anything.....just that some guy lit the rocket and fired at the facade (that usually means roof or wall). No fire.
Now, if you did a lousy translation or read of Bild, you might see the word "lit" and "uncontrolled pyrotechnics", and non-German, and then work all of this into some second story....the Dortmund police confrontation story, and end up with a story which is fifty-percent true and fifty-percent untrue. If you read the Breitbart piece carefully.....they spend almost 95-percent of the story on the crowd and cop confrontation....there's almost no mention of the 'fire' part of this story except in the headline and maybe one brief line in the story.
The second part of the story from Breitbart wrong? Well....there is not doubt that St Reinold is the oldest church in Dortmund, but it is NOT the oldest standing church in Germany.
The last paragraph of the Breitbart story? It's a five-liner over an interview with Harmut Anders-Hoepgen....by Dortmund's city department (not the local newspaper). It's an odd way of dispersing official news but you have a lot of cities and states in Germany which have their own "PR-department" and they send out these announcements or interviews as official city news.
So, Anders-Hoepgen, in the Breitbart article...heads up the Dortmund city commission on Tolerance and Democracy. The Breitbart piece lays out that the commission wants more city funding toward a new project entitled "Comeback” which is to go against the local ‘neo-Nazi deradicalisation programme’. Their present budget is 50,000 Euro and so the hint of the story is that the commission merely wants more (how much more is left out).
What does the Tolerance and Democracy story have to do with the St Reinold Church or the confrontation on New Year's Eve? Nothing. Zero. It is marginal journalism to connect three dots on this story, of which one dot is true....one is not really true other than fireworks flying off in different directions....and one dot having no connection to the two previous dots.
I could write a sixty-line piece on criticizing tolerance and democracy commissions, or the neo-Nazi elements of Germany, but why waste my time on a marginal topic like that? So back to the Breitbart story.
Here we are four to five days later, after the Breitbart article....with Media Matters and ARD/ZDF doing a full-scale assault on Breitbart to defend the news and target Breitbart for fake news. The trouble is....the bulk of the original story by Breitbart of the large crowd confrontation with the cops is actually German local newspapers. As much as either group here (Media Matters or ARD/ZDF) wants to do smearing....that part of the story stays basically true. The rest of this story....the church set ablaze or such....the smear is worth the effort.....as is the age of the church as well. The last part....over the tolerance and democracy stuff? It's all one-hundred percent true. You can read the article yourself over their purpose in life and intent of the city. But nothing about the commission has any relationship to the New Year's Eve episode or the church.
So the fake-fake-story is mostly what Media Matters and ARD/ZDF did....taking an entire piece and zeroing it down into a one-hundred-percent fake story (which doesn't fit).
I know....we really don't need fake-stories.....and we absolutely don't need fake-fake-stories. But that's the problem or maze that we've wandered into. Guys like me....spending 90 minutes of my time and reading through various stories to come to some basis of a story, which isn't much of a story for anyone outside of Dortmund. Why some guy in Louisiana or Wales would care about some Dortmund story is beyond me.
The only thing I'm left with? It would seem to me that if I were a citizen of Dortmund....I guess I should be worried about neo-Nazis and the impending budget escalation to halt the neo-Nazis. How much does the local commission spend on tolerance and democracy related to radicals of all types (not just Nazis)? Unknown. A single-purpose agency? That's the thing that sticks out in my mind, after reading all of this whole thing.
If you ask me....it's time for some German fake-jungle camp promi-show to start up and help relieve us all from this fake-fake-fake story routine.