3 versus 1: Unbiased DW show recipe?

RT Editorial
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What instruments do Western media use to manipulate public opinion? Does it really offer a balanced approach? Ivan Rodionov, Berlin chief of RT German, shares his experience of taking part in Deutsche Welle's (DW) Quadriga talk show.

‘War in Syria – no peace without Putin?’ was the theme of the show aired last week. Rodionov was invited to have his say. “One topic, four views,” reads the Quadriga webpage. But was it really? Not quite, says Ivan.

A clash of opinions it was, but was it a fair one? Well, let’s imagine a game of football with the referee blowing his whistle whenever the visiting side crosses into their opponents’ half. The home team has a double man advantage and, on top of that, a big screen is devoted to showing how the visitors are the lowest form of cheating scum.

The video introducing the show made the key points clear: the Syrians are fleeing their country “to escape bombing by government forces.” And Russia, mostly known as ‘Putin’, is “keen to promote himself as an indispensable partner of the West… but what are his real motives?”

This question was tackled promptly by the Anglo-German writer and journalist Alan Posener: with Teheran and Damascus, Putin “supports two regimes much more dangerous than IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL].” He is a part of the problem, not the solution. A bold statement that went unchallenged by the host.

Mr Posener, a commentator for the Berlin based Die Welt, an Axel-Springer flagship publication, lives in a universe where everything Russia does aims “to destabilize the situation.” (Examples: “Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine.” I wonder what history books he has read). Russia “supplies chemical weapons and barrel bombs” to Bashar Assad, who “single handedly created IS.” And if this was not weird enough, he responds to my sarcastic remark that it is Putin chasing refugees to Europe, with a solemn, “Absolutely, he’s doing that, too.”

Foot note: coming from the Axel Springer house with its rigid editorial guide lines of uncritical support of Israeli and US policies, Mr. Posener feels no discomfort in stressing that it is Russian “state media” who turn facts upside down, as “we” are used to. The royal We is somewhat justified: Axel Springer’s man was joined by a bird of a similar feather, Ines Pohl, soon to be the Washington based correspondent of the German state funded DW channel. According to her, Assad has killed “six times as many people” as IS. No source named. She just knows. Same as that Putin’s sole ambition is “to prove he is important” and “to come back to the world stage.”

The referee of the ‘game’, program host Peter Craven, lets her remarks pass with no challenge. However, my comment about the Syrian presidential vote, which saw more than 10 million favoring Assad as president, drew this response from Mr Craven: “Described by most observers as a farce, as a fiasco.” Needless to say, neither the ‘observers’, nor the notion of ‘most’ need any proof or sourcing.

A nice side bar: in another video insert supposed to give a background on the recent history of interventions, the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan is called an ‘invasion’. The US led war in Iraq, the Western engagement in Afghanistan and the intervention in Libya are referred to as ‘OPERATIONS’. Well, with refereeing like this you don’t really need much skill to win. You have an overwhelming home advantage!

Ivan Rodionov, head of RT German