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RKI files expose political capriciousness: demands are growing for consequences and a change in the media

Source: The Epoch Times, Germany, Lydia Roeber, 02 April 2024

Health Minister Karl Lautberbach (R)) and the former head of the RKI Lothar Wieler.photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa

Covid continues to divide Germany. And on top of that, the RKI files are now exposing the fact that lockdown etc. were not evidence-based, but opaque in what was presumably political capriciousness. Calls are now being made for the RKI protocols to have consequences.

The disclosed RKI protocols prove that decisions in the coronavirus era were made without transparency and in opposition to the official data on which they were based. Since the magazine “Multipolar” published the RKI files’ 2,500 pages by the corona crisis team, three years of covid measures have once again come under scrutiny. Above all, there was a lack of transparency with which the decisions of the strict policies were enforced.

Rhetorical flail

Suspension of basic rights, bans on gatherings, compulsory masks, partially enforced compulsory vaccination, school and kindergarten closures, the elderly and sick dying alone in care homes and hospitals, bans on playgrounds, police violence against peaceful demonstrators, defamation and exclusion of the unvaccinated from public life, restaurant closures. All interventions that many courts have rubber-stamped, resulting in enormous damage to social cohesion, prosperity and the economy. Damage to democracy that was supported, applauded and downright fuelled by the type of reporting in the established, state-funded mainstream media, many of which are financed by taxes.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, the public broadcasters outdid themselves in morally devaluing critics of the vaccination. It was not the rhetorical foil but the flail that was used,” summarises the NZZ, adding that scientific evaluations showed “a very minimal proportion of critical contributions to state pandemic measures”.

RKI files – the next acid test for the media

Now the reporting on the RKI files is the next litmus test for the media, which is facing an increasing loss of trust. But even in the face of undeniable pressure of the facts, the marginalisation and defamation continues unabated. Just as during the covid years against those who demanded evidence, the media is now focussing on those who have proven that the declared pandemic was “evidence-free”.

‘Multipolar’s’ journalist Paul Schreyer, who spent 15,000 euros over a period of years to single-handedly do the journalistic work that the “big” media should actually have initiated, are now being sent into the framing merry-go-round by the very people who – to put it crudely – didn’t do their job. In this context, it is also interesting to note that so far only the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ and fact-checkers from DPA have contacted Paul Schreyer, as he told the Epoch Times when asked.

‘Spiegel’ and ‘t-online’ labelled ‘Multipolar’ as a “right-wing blog close to the covid denialist milieu” and unquestioningly quoted a secretly-changed ZDF article on the topic (Epoch Times reported). In the mainstream media, the well-known players in the political pandemic are given a platform. Green politicians such as Janosch Dahmen are allowed to publish unquestioningly that the RKI files debate is obviously an attempt to create a fake scandal by “virulently spreading such untruthful rumours”. To paraphrase Mark Twain: “You have to know the facts before you can distort them.”

The Funke media group allows the Vice President of the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens), to get away with blatant perpetrator-victim reversal by allowing her to present the reassessment unchallenged in the context that “the pandemic is still being used today to create a mood against our parliamentary democracy”: “A reappraisal should not be misused to defame those involved in politics, the medical profession and science,” warned the Green Party. Her party colleague, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, is now also in favour of “having the courage to learn lessons”, as reported by Bild.

Lauterbach’s reappraisal mills grind slowly

In the meantime, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) now apparently wants to underpin the coronavirus review with more transparency: “We must not make the mistake of once again trying to divide people against each other on this issue,” Lauterbach explained on DLF on 27 March 2024. He announced his intention to present a “largely redacted” version of those RKI protocols.

Meanwhile, data analyst and programmer Tom Lausen demonstrated live in the YouTube stream “Home Office” on the alternative media portal Nuoviso, using the tools of artificial intelligence and just four clicks, what is presumably hiding under the redactions in the RKI files by detecting a forgotten redaction in the 2,500 pages of protocols. Watch here from minute 01:45 in the programme “Black Lines matter” from 27 March 2024, which was viewed over 140,000 times within two days (Epoch Times reported).

The Minister of Health has a different timing than a short transparent livestream: Karl Lauterbach wants to present the papers in around four weeks, he announced on DLF.

Meanwhile, another key player in the coronavirus pandemic is being handed over by the ‘Tagesschau’, the flagship of the public broadcasters.

Former RKI chief Lothar Wieler is allowed to praise himself extensively, even in view of information already known from the RKI files that have been released. Author Corinna Emundts leaves this standing, just like the “culprits” named by Wieler: “There are people who deliberately spread misinformation.”

Michael Maier, editor of the ‘Berliner Zeitung’, summarises in an analysis of the ‘Tagesschau’ interview: “The interview is, there is no other way to put it, unsurpassable in terms of ignorance and self-righteousness.”

The media’s big blind spot

It is also the Berliner Zeitung that comments in an article on a topic that is often neglected in the media, possibly because it concerns them. The media’s own role in reporting during the coronavirus era and thus its contribution to dividing society, and how this fact-free pandemic and its measures could have come about in the first place has now been revealed in the RKI files:

“The RKI protocols should […] have consequences. First of all for journalism,” demands the Berliner Zeitung. What Multipolar has achieved, other journalists have failed to do. Author Martin Rücker counts himself among them at this point. The failure of the media, he reflects, is that no traditional medium, including large, well-equipped editorial offices, has ensured that the documents are publicised.

In addition, the Federal Government, and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, must draw consequences from the #RKI files because of the negligent, total communication failure. The author argues that the process from the request for the protocols to the legal enforcement of their release took months and that the RKI and the ministry had time to prepare. The author speaks of a “PR disaster of democratic proportions”, which neither the RKI nor – and primarily – the Ministry should have allowed to happen. He blames the inaction of the RKI and the Federal Ministry of Health for “turning the matter into a communicative disaster”.

Prime example of media failure

On closer inspection, this commentary in the Berliner Zeitung, which initially comes across without any “right-wing” defamation, can serve as an example of the media’s failure during the pandemic and in dealing with it.

The Berliner Zeitung criticises how clumsy the RKI and the ministries are in their alleged cover-up. This has caused a “communicative disaster”. No mention of the fact that the RKI and the ministry are stonewalling and thus presumably trying to prevent an investigation into the distortions of the covid period.

Journalists as the government’s PR column

“Any communications professional would have been grateful for the opportunity to spend months preparing for such a case,” says Martin Rücker, criticising the institutions for their sluggishness and thus testifying to how many journalists’ understanding of their profession seems to have changed. Rückert also argues here from the perspective of a PR consultant for the government on how it could, in the best case scenario, look better instead of watching its back as the fourth estate.

The government institutions are blamed for the greatest failure here: “First they fail to create transparency themselves, then they fight the attempts of others to create this transparency – and finally they silently leave the interpretation to the loudest critics of the government institutions.” According to Rückert, it is hard to imagine a more effective programme to further damage the battered trust in these institutions.

The author’s seemingly naïve appeal is: “Authorities and ministries must finally understand that transparency is not their opponent, but their ally in the battle for public trust.”

Distrust of state institutions

This is why “state transparency […] is the order of the day”. For the journalist, the solution appears to be a non-partisan initiative. “Its goal should be a law that obliges state institutions to make documents public on their own initiative (and not only upon request) according to clear rules.”

However, the fact that another initiative, another law and more rules are supposed to be the solution to something sounds a bit like “passing the buck” in this case, especially for those who have already lost trust in the government and its institutions.

And there are more and more of them. According to a survey conducted by researchers from the universities of Erfurt and Bamberg among others, 29% of Germans now want to punish the politicians “who were responsible during the pandemic”. 19% also called for consequences for scientists. Spiegel‘ and ‘Bild’ unanimously find this result “frightening”.

However, the confidence of those who, according to their role, should be driving forward the reappraisal of all this is also falling: a survey commissioned by the Stiftung Meinung & Freiheit (chaired by Roland Tichy) from Insa-Consulere revealed that 37% of respondents are now in favour of the complete abolition of public broadcasting in Germany.

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