Sunday, September 20, 2009

When Media Runs Politics: Germany vs America

Politicians tend to love it when journalists write or say nice things about them. It used to be that journalists felt ashamed of writing or saying nice things about politicians, but those days are long gone and we're well into politics-as-entertainment and journalists-as-sycophants. Nothing new there, and it's a very bad thing -- at least for that small amount of the population that thinks politics is about life-and-death matters of shared public import.

In fact, today it seems as if many media organizations go out of their way to be shills for politicians, political movements, well-heeled sponsors, and the dross that goes with them. But is this inevitable? Can our media be otherwise?

In the September 2009 issue of the German edition of Playboy, writer Detlef Dre├člein reports on the German political party Die PARTEI. If you read German, you can read his whole article here -- don't worry; it's hosted on the site of parent publication Focus, so there's nothing that's NSFW on it. (Then again, they're Europeans, so everything's relative). If you only read English, here's a Wikipedia explanation of the party.

Die PARTEI has a platform of things such as rebuilding the Berlin Wall. See, Die PARTEI is a joke party; unlike the Bob Kasten School of Driving, it has no real hope of ever holding power. Dre├člein's article quotes PAREI leader Martin Sonneborn saying that "We are the political arm of the [factual] magazine Titanic." Titanic is a satirical magazine that Sonneborn used to edit.

So Die PARTEI is the political wing of Titanic. Does that make the GOP the political wing of Fox News? Since Titanic at least tries to be funny (and Die PARTEI knows it's a joke) and German politics are considerably saner than the American brand, I'd have to say the Germans win this contest hands-down.

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