(Spelling-)Change We CAN’T Believe In

More Bin Laden, Bin Laden, Bin Laden . . . It may have been among the most incidental of occurrences in the media uproar following the announcement of his death late last Sunday/early last Monday. But that doesn’t mean that people didn’t notice, or don’t want to seize on it to make a point – even as far away as Germany:

Wenn man eine Aussage oft wiederholt, wird sie sich festsetzen, hofft US-Sender Fox40 und meldet: “Obama bin Laden tot” http://bit.ly/lGu2gMless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

That’s from Berlin’s Die Tageszeitung or taz. (That additional -gezwitscher part actually means “tweeting” in German – now you know!) Even if you’re not up with the language, you can still see that what’s at issue is the rather-too-many mistaken references to “Obama” rather than “Osama” cropping up in that same media uproar, perpetrated by Fox News.

Missed them? No problem. The following YouTube clip from the David Pakman Show – in English, of course – reviews them for you. There were more instances than you might have thought!

Depending on your own media diet, all this Fox flim-flammery might already feel familiar, in an alliterative sort of way. For most in Germany, though, it is unknown and so somewhat shocking. As the taz-reporter Meika Laaff explains:

Whoever watches Fox stations in the USA has an interesting view of the world. There demagogues [Einheizer – literally “fire-lighters”] like Glenn Beck explain the evil connection between Fukushima, the European financial crisis and the Arab Spring.

It doesn’t help that the taz is a leftist paper, based in Berlin, itself well-known as a leftist city, even in Nazi-times. And remember, this is the European Left we’re talking about here, meaning that the typical Fox News audience might as well be living on another planet – and that taz reporters will always be on the look-out for any opportunity to send derision it’s way. Here, Ms. Laaff repeats several times her assertion that the Obama/Osama mix-up is actually deliberate on Fox’s part and intended to undermine respect for the President by way of a subconscious association that sheer repetition can plant in the heads of the unwary.

But give Laaff and her editors some credit as well. It turns out that some German media were guilty of the same Obama/Osama switch, including no less than Chancellor Merkel’s own press secretary*, who Laaff claims issued a tweet that translates to “#Chancellor: Obama responsible for deaths of thousands of innocents, mocked the principles of Islam and all religions.” (Of course that tweet is no longer on-line in that same form, it has been corrected.) The Bild Zeitung and Der Spiegel committed similar errors. (Surprising for the latter, not so much for the former, which is a National Enquirer-style tabloid, but with more-attractive women.)

At the end of her piece Laaff even challenges readers to get in contact by e-mail if it turns out that her taz has made the same mistake. So again, give her credit – not least because all this evidence of Germans having trouble with that Obama/Osama thing rather dilutes her claim that Fox News does it all the time deliberately.

*Equivalent in the US administration to White House press secretary Jay Carney(val Barker).

BTW did you like the no-less-than-three embeds in this post? A new record! I’m actually going to see if I can keep adding them until, at some point, my posts are 100% embed and I don’t have to write anything at all myself!

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