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27 Nov, 2019 07:55

‘Satire is about democratic debate’: German TV channel shields comic who ‘likened’ Greta Thunberg to Hitler & Stalin

‘Satire is about democratic debate’: German TV channel shields comic who ‘likened’ Greta Thunberg to Hitler & Stalin

Greta Thunberg’s critics rarely fit into the mainstream, but a major German TV channel rushed to the defense of their cabaret artist, who relentlessly mocked the climate change preacher and vowed to quell her “personality cult.”

Dieter Nuhr, who hosts his comedy show on ARD, has made scores of enemies among Thunberg’s parish after he took aim at her uncompromising stance on climate change last week. Speaking to his viewers in Kiel, he reportedly offered: “But what are human lives when it comes to a big thing?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much for the clean environment,” Nuhr explained, “I only believe that when you constantly prohibit something, it doesn’t get us any closer to the goal. The future is about development, not foiling [something].” 

At the end of the stunt, he cautioned the youth against getting radical, reminding that extreme views led to the emergence of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, according to Kieler Nachrichten.

The paper was the first to report Nuhr’s provocative performance, but it went far beyond simply quoting the comic, bluntly suggesting that he actually likened Greta to the notorious dictators.

As the outrage grew, Nuhr made an intervention, claiming that this part of the piece was fake and denied making such a straightforward comparison. He also lamented that the reporting by Kieler Nachrichten had nothing to do with “serious journalism.”

The newspaper admitted that it misrepresented what Nuhr has said, apologized to the artist and took down the article. But that didn’t stop Greta’s most diehard followers from assault him online, calling him “bullsh*tter” and “complete idiot.” Others demanded that ARD, the broadcaster that airs his program, dismiss him immediately.

To the haters’ disappointment, RBB, a channel that produces the show for ARD, threw their weight behind Nuhr. The comic is “a highly esteemed artist on ARD and RBB,” and doesn’t “compete for approval,” it told local media outlet Watson, adding that “critique is part of the business.”

The broadcaster hailed his ability to unmask inconsistencies in social discourse through exaggeration that’s been “his award-winning trademark for years.”

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ARD, on their part, said they are well aware that Nuhr does polarize the audience sometimes, but have nothing against it. “Satire has a rich tradition on RBB and ARD,” the channel responded, adding that calling to bring the show offline just because it is “unpleasant” contradicts “our view of artistic freedom and democratic debate.”

Critics accused him of stirring up hatred against the famous Swede, but it didn’t seem to take any toll on Nuhr, who carried on taunting her on stage. “I wonder what Greta will do when it gets cold,” he told his viewership back in September. “It can’t be heating,” Nuhr said jokingly.

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