Lying press (German: Lügenpresse, lit. 'press of lies') is a pejorative political term used largely by German political movements for the printed press and the mass media at large, as a propaganda tactic to discredit the publications that offered a message counter to their agenda.
The term Lügenpresse has been used intermittently since the 19th century in political polemics in Germany, by a wide range of groups and movements in a variety of debates and conflicts. Isolated uses can be traced back as far as the Vormärz period. The term gained traction in the March 1848 Revolution when Catholic circles employed it to attack the rising, hostile liberal press. In the Franco-German War (1870–71) and particularly World War I (1914–18) German intellectuals and journalists used the term to denounce what they believed was enemy war propaganda. The Evangelischer Pressedienst made its mission the fight against the "lying press" which it considered to be the "strongest weapon of the enemy". After the war, German-speaking Marxists such as Karl Radek and Alexander Parvus vilified "the bourgeois lying press" as part of their class struggle rhetoric.
The Nazis adopted the term for their propaganda against the Jewish, communist, and later the foreign press. In 1922 Adolf Hitler used the accusation of the "lying press" for the Marxist press. In the Mein Kampf chapter on war propaganda, he described what he saw as the extraordinary effect of enemy propaganda in the First World War. He criticized German propaganda as ineffective and called for 'better' propaganda, which, allegedly like that of the English, French or Americans, was to be oriented towards psychological effectiveness. Accusations of "lying" against domestic journalism can be found in his speeches, for example against the "social democratic press", Jewish liberals, etc.
Hermann Göring used the expression on March 23, 1933 in his speech during the debate on the Enabling Act in the Reichstag. In the same speech he denied attacks on Jewish shops and desecrations of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.
In December 1937, Manfred Pechau summarized parts of his dissertation National Socialism and German Language (Greifswald 1935) in the National Socialist monthly by putting together synonyms for "Jewish-Marxist lying press", including "Jewish journals". The official party educational and speaker information material, published in 1938 by the Reich Propaganda Management of the NSDAP, includes comments on the anti-Semitic November pogroms in 1938 by foreign media as reactions of the "propaganda and lying press" which allegedly represented a new field of slander against the Reich.
In several speeches by Joseph Goebbels from the first half of 1939, "Lugenpresse" is used to characterize the media abroad, especially the future war opponents of the USA, France and Great Britain. At this point in time the German domestic press was "synchronized" (controlled), a domestic press that the National Socialists referred to as the Lugenpresse no longer existed. The Nazi propaganda reacted to the false report of Max Schmeling's death with an attack on the "foreign lying press". Other combinations were also possible, the Völkischer Beobachter used, for example, the 'emigrant and international lying press' to deny reports about the poor condition of the imprisoned Carl von Ossietzky. In 1932 the Völkischer Beobachter rejected criticism of Rosenberg using the formula Marxist Lying Press.
In 1942, Baldur von Schirach described the French journalist Geneviève Tabouis, who published on the expansion plans of National Socialism, as "the embodiment of this nifty lying press that was available to anyone who knew how to pay"; in the same context he claimed that "90 percent of all Paris newspapers" were under "Jewish influence" and that the newspaper editorial offices were made up of "over 70 percent" Jews.
The word was also used in hand-made speeches at carnival events that were used to bolster the party.
After the National Socialist Condor Legion bombed the city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and this led to appalling reactions in the world, General Franco's propaganda accused the "Jewish lying press", clamining that this was a press maneuver by the Bolsheviks; this happened in harmony with the Nazi propaganda.
In 1948, Walter Hagemann analyzed how the Nazi press used the accusation of the "lying press" against the foreign press. He observed that readers should be made aware of how vigilant and reliable German journalism and politics are on this point. The rejection of the Allied "horror reports" as products of the "Jewish journal" was part of this Nazi strategy.
Some Holocaust deniers fall back on this model of negating German war crimes through the accusation of the lying press. For example, the Remer dispatch in the 1990s alleged that criminal proceedings against the Holocaust denier Jürgen Graf to be the "pressure of the lying press" and Jewish actors.
21st century usage
In late 2014, the term was repopularised by the far-right political movement Pegida in response to what its protesters felt was a scornful treatment by the mainstream media, as well as biased press reporting on the rising migrant influx and other immigration issues. It was chosen to be the "Un-word of the year" for 2014 by a panel of five linguists and journalists of the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache for "wholesale defamation" of the work of the media. President Joachim Gauck condemned the chanting of the slogan as "ahistorical nonsense", maintaining that in contrast to the Nazi and the GDR era the federal German press is not manipulative in character and "covers events mostly in a correct and balanced way".
Alternative for Germany chair Frauke Petry accused the German media of "defamatory" coverage of her party at a party congress at Hanover, but said the party executive would use the term "lying press" sparingly, preferring the milder designation "Pinocchio press". Her fellow party member Björn Höcke criticized Lügenpresse as too sweeping a verdict for the journalistic profession, arguing instead for the alternative, phonetically very similar term 'Lückenpresse' ("gaps press"), which would describe more accurately reporting bias.
German media detractors felt vindicated by the perceived lack of mainstream coverage of the 2016 New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany. Most media outlets ignored the mass assaults by North African migrants and only started reporting on them five days later, after a wave of anger on social media made covering them unavoidable. The delay in reporting on the incidents led to accusations that the authorities and the media attempted to ignore or cover up the migrant attacks to avoid criticism against the asylum and migration policy of the Merkel government. Former interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) criticized the media for upholding a "cartel of silence": "There's suspicion that they believe they don't have to report on such assaults, especially involving migrants and foreigners, for fear of unsettling the public." The German press codex at that time still advised against mentioning the religion or ethnicity of criminal suspects and offenders unless there was a "factual connection" to the crime.
A 2015 poll by Infratest dimap found one-fifth of Germans using the term in reference to German media, including newspapers, radio and TV, while almost three-fourths do not employ the word. 42 percent have doubts about the media's credibility, whereas 52 percent believe its coverage to be reliable on the whole. According to a representative poll by the Allensbach Institute of the same year, 39 percent of adult Germans think that there is some truth to the criticism of Pegida that the mainstream press is distorting facts and concealing crucial information from the reader; in the new states of Germany this is believed by 44 percent of the population. Another 2015 survey, by the weekly Die Zeit, found that 50 percent of respondents did not trust the media coverage on the refugee crisis, 56 percent not on the Pegida movement, 63 percent not on the European debt crisis and 66 percent not on the Ukraine conflict.
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the term began to be known in American society due to its usage by some, such as neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute (NPI). The term was also used at an October 2016 campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio for Donald Trump. Trump used it throughout his presidency along with other terms such as "lying media" and "fake news."
- See also timeline in "Lying Press? Germans Lose Faith in the Fourth Estate". Spiegel Online. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- Wiener Zeitung, 2 September 1835, p. 990; Allgemeine Zeitung, no. 69, 9 March 1840, p. 547
- Hafenbrack, Hans (2004). Geschichte des Evangelischen Pressedienstes. Evangelische Pressearbeit von 1848 bis 1981 (in German). Bielefeld: Luther-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7858-0488-9.
- Weber, Hermann (1993). Die Gründung der KPD: Protokoll und Materialien des Gründungsparteitages der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands 1918/1919 mit einer Einführung zur angeblichen Erstveröffentlichung durch die SED (in German). Dietz. p. 78.
- "Die Glocke – sozialistische Wochenschrift" (in German). 10 (40–52). Parvus/Verlag für Sozialwissenschaft. 1925: 1450. Cite journal requires
- Hitler am 17. Februar 1922. wilhelm-der-zweite.de
- Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf. Kapitel „Kriegspropaganda“.
- Volltextsuche in Mein Kampf.
- Deutscher Reichsanzeiger Nr. 71 vom 24. März 1933.
- Zitiert nach Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Beda Weber: Die Trauerfeierlichkeit für Robert Blum zu Frankfurt am Main. In: Historisch-politische Blätter, Band 22 (1848), S. 794–811, Zitat: S. 799, online auf Google Books.=PA326 Journaille. In: dies.: Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus. Berlin, New York 1998, Stichwort „Journaille“, S. 326 f.
- Reichspropagandaleitung der NSDAP: Einziges Parteiamtliches Aufklärungs- und Redner Informationsmaterial (Sniplet) 1938.
- Joseph Goebbels: Die Zeit ohne Beispiel. Reden und Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1939/40/41, Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachf., München 1941.
- Guido Knopp: Der Zweite Weltkrieg: Bilder, die wir nie vergessen. Hamburg 2014, S. 67.
- Nach Raimund Koplin: Carl von Ossietzky als politischer Publizist. A. Leber, 1964, S. 221.
- Fundstelle in den Literaturangabe von: Philipp Loewenfeld, Peter Landau, Rolf Riess: Recht und Politik in Bayern zwischen Prinzregentenzeit und Nationalsozialismus: die Erinnerungen von Philipp Loewenfeld. Aktiv Druck & Verlag, 2004, 712 Seiten (online).
- Baldur von Schirach: Wille und Macht. Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1942, S. 32.
- Carl D. Dietmar, Marcus Leifeld: Alaaf und Heil Hitler. Karneval im Dritten Reich. Herbig, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7766-2630-8, S. 108.
- Wolf Martin Hamdorf: Angriff am Markttag. Deutschlandfunk, 26. April 2007; abgerufen 21. Januar 2015.
- Peter Monteath, Elke Nicolai: Zur Spanienkriegsliteratur: die Literatur des Dritten Reiches zum Spanischen Bürgerkrieg. Lang, 1986 (online; findet sich ähnlich in der Memoirenliteratur des NS).
- Walter Hagemann: Publizistik im Dritten Reich. Ein Beitrag der Methodik der Massenführung. Hamburg 1948 (online).
- Peter Niggli, Jürg Frischknecht: Rechte Seilschaften: wie die „unheimlichen Patrioten" den Zusammenbruch des Kommunismus meisterten. Rotpunktverlag, 1998, S. 666.
- Görlich, Christopher (2002). Die 68er in Berlin: Schauplätze und Ereignisse (in German). Homilius. p. 309. ISBN 978-3-89706-904-6.
- "Pressemitteilung: Wahl des 24. "Unworts des Jahres"" (PDF) (in German). Unwort des Jahres. 13 January 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- "Gauck kritisiert "Lügenpresse"-Begriff als geschichtsvergessen". Die Zeit (in German). 22 January 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- Rohbohm, Hinrich (28 November 2015). "Petry schwört AfD auf "harten Kampf" ein". Junge Freiheit (in German). Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Höcke, Björn (7 January 2016). "Nicht "Lügenpresse" sondern "Lückenpresse"" (in German). Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Karnitschnig, Matthew (25 January 2016). "Cologne puts Germany's 'lying press' on defensive". Politico. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
- "Silence on sex crimes will make racism worse". The Local. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- Huggler, Justin (6 January 2016). "'Cover-up' over Cologne sex assaults blamed on migration sensitivities". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
- "Reports of New Year's Eve sex assaults in Cologne fuel German migrant debate". CNN. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "Cover-up claim over NYE mass sexual assaults". The Local. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
- "Der Pressekodex. Richtlinie 12.1 – Berichterstattung über Straftaten" (in German). Presserat. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
- "Jeder Fünfte nennt deutsche Medien "Lügenpresse"". Die Welt (in German). 31 October 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- Köcher, Renate (16 December 2015). "Allensbach-Studie: Mehrheit fühlt sich über Flüchtlinge einseitig informiert". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- Hamann, Götz (25 June 2015). "Wer vertraut uns noch?". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- The Atlantic (21 November 2016), 'Hail Trump!': Richard Spencer Speech Excerpts, retrieved 26 April 2019
- "Donald Trump supporters are using a Nazi word to attack journalists". Time. 25 October 2016.
Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray, one of the first reporters to chronicle Trump's rise alongside core elements of the alt right movement, recently tweeted a video that captured two Trump supporters shouting the phrase [Lügenpresse] at the members of the media covering the Republican Party's presidential nominee at a convention center in Cleveland, Ohio.
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