German Political Leader Questions YouTubers' Right To Tell Fans Not To Vote For Her Party, Urgently Summons Her Advisers In Response — By Fax

from the doof-doof-doof dept

One of the many ugly aspects of the Article 13/17 disaster is the way that politicians not only ignored the concerns of millions of EU citizens, but actively insulted them, describing them as “bots” or Google “astroturfing”. As Mike noted at the time, treating people with contempt, shortly before the main elections for the European Parliament, was not a wise move. German politicians were particularly contemptuous of young voters, and the latter did not forget. The mainstream German political parties — the center-right CDU and CSU, and the center-left SDP — were trashed in the recent elections, largely because very few young people voted for them. The German Greens, by contrast, had their best results yet.

One person who may have helped to bring that about is the YouTuber Rezo. Shortly before the EU vote, he released a 55-minute “personal rant” entitled, “The destruction of the CDU” (in German). In its first week, it had been viewed over 12 million times, and attracted over 180,000 comments. Despite its title, it is not just an anti-CDU polemic, but details the failure of all the mainstream German parties to address key issues — notably the climate crisis, but also poverty, German support for US militarism, and Article 13. It urged German viewers to vote — but not for the CDU, CSU, SDP or the extreme right-wing AfD. A few days later, over 90 fellow YouTubers joined Rezo in making the same call in a shorter video (in German).

The general view seems to be that the action of these top YouTubers probably caused many more young Germans to think and talk about the issues raised by the elections for the European Parliament, and then to go out and vote, than anything in the country’s history. Against a background of general cynicism and lack of political engagement in the EU, you might expect this initiative to be celebrated as an amazing achievement, and something to be emulated in future elections.

Nope.

Here’s what Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the CDU, said about those YouTubers who offered their views on which party people should vote for:

What would actually have happened in this country, if a group of 70 newspaper editorials had made a joint appeal two days before the election: “please do not vote for the CDU or the SPD”. That would have been a clear case of spin before the election, and would have led to heated debates in this country. And the question arises with regard to the issue of spin: what exactly are the rules from the analog domain, and which rules apply to the digital sector, yes or no? That’s a question we will discuss. And that’s why this discussion will be very aggressive.

In other words, how dare these impertinent youngsters criticize what their elders and betters are doing? Let’s bring in some new rules for the Internet to stop that happening again.

But this isn’t cynical “spin”: it’s just Rezo offering his opinion — take it or leave it. It’s what newspaper editorials and columnists do every day, and everybody accepts that as a useful and valid part of political discourse. What Kramp-Karrenbauer is really complaining about is the fact that YouTube represents an alternative to the established media outlets she knows how to handle. Frighteningly for the CDU, YouTube is not only a medium that it and the other parties can’t control, employing the usual political and economic levers, it’s one they struggle even to understand. For example, as the Guardian reported, one CDU supporter tweeted about Rezo: “This young man is spreading an endless stream of fake news and is populist down to the tips of his blue hair” (original in German). But Rezo’s video is not only a brilliant demonstration of how to use YouTube in an extremely persuasive way, it also comes with a Google document containing hundreds of references and citations of scientific literature backing up his claims, making it the diametric opposite of “fake news”.

It’s clear the traditional politicians and their old friends in mainstream media simply don’t know how to counter this kind of sweary but fact-based attack, using a powerful medium that costs practically nothing to produce and that can reach and influence a million people in a few hours. So, in order to discuss this troubling new high-tech threat that contributed to the humiliating drubbing her party received in the European Parliament elections, the CDU’s Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has organized a meeting of her most trusted political advisers.

The invitations were sent by fax.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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Comments on “German Political Leader Questions YouTubers' Right To Tell Fans Not To Vote For Her Party, Urgently Summons Her Advisers In Response — By Fax”

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82 Comments
That One Guysays:

... and?

What would actually have happened in this country, if a group of 70 newspaper editorials had made a joint appeal two days before the election: "please do not vote for the CDU or the SPD". That would have been a clear case of spin before the election, and would have led to heated debates in this country. And the question arises with regard to the issue of spin: what exactly are the rules from the analog domain, and which rules apply to the digital sector, yes or no? That’s a question we will discuss. And that’s why this discussion will be very aggressive.

Running with that, I have to wonder what would have happened(or what they think should have happened anyway)? It would not have been ‘spin’ for people to have objected to a particular political party and urge people not to vote for them, and what better time to make those objections public than when they’re most likely to be effective, just prior to an election?

Trying to frame people voicing their opinions as ‘spin’, and then raising the question as to what rules are or should be in place to apply to those certainly leaves the impression that they believe people shouldn’t be allowed to engage in the heinous act of being involved in politics(at least when it works against those currently in power), which is just a tad dictatorial to say the least.

On a lighter note…

"This young man is spreading an endless stream of fake news and is populist down to the tips of his blue hair"

… nice of them to provide the last two entries I needed for Buzzword Bingo.

PaulTsays:

"if a group of 70 newspaper editorials had made a joint appeal "

I’d guess this is the disconnect here. The example given implies that the newspapers colluded in order to give a united message.

But, that doesn’t seem to be what happened here. What appears to have happened is someone voiced their opinion, and others supported it.

Quite apart from the natural, fundamental differences between YouTube and a newspaper (hint: editorial approval), it does not seem to bode well if your reaction to too many people voicing an opinion counter to the ruling party is to look at how to stop them.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Nuff Said

I have to say that a FAX is far more secure than most things through the Internet. It’s easy and fast and takes very little effort. Of course, everyone needs a Fax machine in the first place and connected to an old school phone line. It makes sense.

I still send faxes all the time, generally to place orders for products at a few places when I’m at work. The rest I just do online. Faxes in the Business world and Government is still a thing.

Remember years ago when personal computers started to be a thing and that we would become a paperless world. We use more paper than ever. I have more paperwork at work than ever. It keeps growing. I have stuff on our servers also. Try and keep as much there in the Digital world, but still have a growing list of Papers. The whole Paper Trail just isn’t a Voting thing. Can’t have a paper trail without PAPER!!!

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Nuff Said

Also, how secure was the actual fax machine. It makes me laugh when people claim faxes are secure, given the number of times I used to see them being received on unguarded printers in open plan offices. Unless you’re sure that the fax is received in a well secured office only frequented by the recipient, you really don’t know who’s reading it on the other end.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Nuff Said

"I have to say that a FAX is far more secure than most things through the Internet."

You might want to update your talking points a bit there, they seem rather dusty. Or, please supply me with your research on how faxes are more secure than a well secured SSH tunnel backed with decent encryption.

"The rest I just do online"

You can do faxes online too! But, that doesn’t really matter.

"Faxes in the Business world and Government is still a thing"

Yes, and the US government only just stopped enforcing supplier checks for Y2K compatibility. Just because it still exists and has niche applications does not mean that it’s the best or most secure way to, say, arrange a meeting as per the above situation.

"Can’t have a paper trail without PAPER!!!"

Printers also exist, as do shredders.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Nuff Said

And a properly encrypted thing through the internet is more secure than fax.

Fax is not secure. Never was, still isn’t. Dinosaurs who fear technology because they don’t understand it have convinced themselves that fax is reasonably secure, but it simply is not. It’s an insecure relic, as are those who cling to it.

Anonymoussays:

usual situation and one that, hopefully, is gonna change with more than just the number of original politicians losing their MEP status, whereby the ‘old guard’ expects to carry on in positions they are used to holding and can also carry on screwing everyone they want while bringing in laws that affect only those being screwed and not ‘the old guard’! like what happened over ACTA, the straw that broke this camel’s back was when those still in the positions of MEP totally ignored what the millions wanted over article 13/17! it was done intentionally to carry on with things as stated above, rather than acting on the voices and votes of the millions who were against it! now those fuckers are paying the price and the likes of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer doesn’t like it when things dont go according to how she and others like her want them to go! she and her ilk need to realise that they are only there when voted in and that to be voted in they have to listen to and act on the wishes of the voters, not the 1%!!

Anonymoussays:

It’s not just the far-left parties in Germany (as well as other European countries) that are doing so well due to the widespread use of social media. The far-right parties have also had huge successes. It’s practically a worldwide phenomenon, as centrist political leaders are getting increasingly rare. It’s not hard to figure out why, as the "rage culture" that social media incentivizes is forming warring ideological bubbles out of a previously content and largely homogenous population.

JoeCoolsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He’s speaking of countries in Europe, not the US. Until the last decade or so, most of Europe was separated into homogeneous populations. Part of all the conflict in many EU countries today is because of immigration introducing new cultures into countries that had been homogeneous for centuries.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: It?s not that you?re a bad person so much as an ignorant

We did. And realised it was even more bullshit in that context. For example there are four official languages in Switzerland, a country it is possible to drive across in three hours. Maybe next time, try some bullshit that isn?t laughable on its face. Or better yet crack open a history book and become a slightly less bad person.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep. Many of us are apparently descended from Genghis Khan. The Vikings ranged across Europe, into Russia, Asia, and Persia, raping, pillaging, and trading. Their Irish slaves were sold in countries far from the auld sod.

Persian and Turkish invaders have left their mark on Europe from Budapest to Spain.

Add to that the waves of refugee influxes from Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition and expulsions from other countries to Huguenot refugees escaping persecution in France to Turkish workers invited to Germany and Jamaicans invited to England to Ugandans fleeing Idi Amin’s regime and honestly… whut?

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Erm, JoeCool, you’re wrong, mate.

Look up "Alsace-Lorraine" and "Sudetenland." Homogeneity has never existed in Europe because we’ve been fighting with each other over everything from land claims to religion for millennia.

The (now defunct) pub outside my home was called the Flemish Weaver. This is because of the immigration in the Middle Ages. European countries have had invasions and migrations and refugee populations from time, so really… where the hell did you learn your history?

Every once in a while I reveal that I’m an Irish woman living in the UK. There’s a substantial Irish population here, there’s even a Rugby club called the London Irish. There are also substantial populations of other ethnicities here.

Black people have been with us from ancient times, and may well have been among the first settlers here. The Romans brought some with them during their occupation.

The story is repeated across Europe. At no point were the populations ever homogeneous. Every one of them has a mix of other ethnicities in there. Again… where did you learn history?

Also, none of the European populations has ever been separated. Ever. Border enforcement is a recent thing.

nerd bertsays:

Re: That's not the way this works.

It’s practically a worldwide phenomenon, as centrist political leaders are getting increasingly rare.

If those "centrist political leaders" had delivered what the voters wanted, would they be increasingly rare? What has become increasingly evident is that the traditional political parties have failed to deliver what their people want.

The Greens in Germany took a set of issues that the CDU and the other "establishment" politician ignored and gained. But Farage in the UK is a far better example. Both major parties backed away from Brexit, so he formed a party based on essentially the main issue of the election just a few months before the election and flat out won.

So if you want to blame "rage culture" you might want to really understand that folks are raging about having their wishes ignored. This isn’t a crisis of "rage culture", it’s a crisis about the "mainstream" politicians’ views decoupling from the people they allegedly represent.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: That's not the way this works.

Many politicians will routinely spout what the voters want to hear all the while not intending to do any of the shit they are talking about, once they get your vote you no longer matter to them and they do whatever they please.

Could it be that that the voters are finally getting tired of the bullshit?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That's not the way this works.

Many politicians will routinely spout what the voters want to hear all the while not intending to do any of the shit they are talking about, once they get your vote you no longer matter to them and they do whatever they please.

Ah yes, Barack Obama, the "anti-war" candidate who, once becoming president, invaded Libya and Syria. And Candidate Obama promising to end domestic spying, while President Obama increased such spying. And no lobbysts … and complete transparency …. etc etc …The list of Obama’s broken promises is endless. But this never hurt him politically.

But Trump, unlike typical politicians, seems obsessed with his election promises, especially his central promise — that of building a border wall and clamping down on illegal immigration. Doesn’t Trump realize that neither Republicans nor Democrats would complain is he had accomplished nothing and offered excuses? Doesn’t Trump realize that breaking campaign promises is an accepted American tradition? Apparently not.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: That's not the way this works.

Yes, you are correct in that the only politicians to ever lie to the American public were Obama and Trump. /s

Are there any more campaign promises that Trump made and never intended to carry out? Why yes … there are.
Draining the swamp? … lol
No cuts to Medicare?
No cuts to Social Security?
Bringing troops home?

And then there are:
Tax cuts … what a shit show that is – damned liars.
Trade deals … what a total screwup

Mason Wheelersays:

For example, as the Guardian reported, one CDU supporter tweeted about Rezo: "This young man is spreading an endless stream of fake news and is populist down to the tips of his blue hair"

Definition of populism:

representation or extolling of the common person, the working class, the underdog, etc.:

When exactly did that become an insult or a bad thing?

PaulTsays:

Re: Re:

Generally speaking, it can translate as meaning that it appeals to the lowest common denominator. That it’s more important to have popular appeal than it is to have actual workable policies, long term agendas, etc. The term itself isn’t necessarily negative, but a lot of the things that populism is supposed to have brought us – for example, Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro in Brazil – can certainly be seen as negative.

The Guardian themselves have a series of articles related to this, but I think in context of the minister’s comments it means simple that it’s a simplistic appeal to popular acclaim rather than something with substance or even factual basis.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/series/the-new-populism

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

When exactly did [populism] become an insult or a bad thing?

2016, particularly regarding Trump. But you already knew that. Consider that Trump became a firebrand against a keystone "populist" issue –illegal immigration — that had until then been perfectable acceptable to the ruling classes of both major parties, as both benefited immensely from it. (oddly enough, the very people most hurt by illegal immigration are the legal Spanish-speaking immigrant population who directly compete with illegals for jobs, and who would therefore see their own fortunes rise in response to increased border security, yet they don’t seem to be able to grasp this concept of simple economics)

Of course there’s a wide overlap between a "populist" and a "demagogue" as we all know.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Wanting to protect the Boarders is NOT Racism. Throwing out that word all the time when it’s not, makes it become meaningless.

Why so many seem to be confused over ILLEGAL vs LEGAL is beyond laughable. I’m all for LEGAL Immigration. I’m against ILLEGAL Immigration. Because I’m against ILLEGAL Immigration, I would be called racists. That’s beyond laughable.

You seem to be one of them. You throw out the ANTI IMMIGRANT Campaign. You left out LEGAL or ILLEGAL. There is no Anti Immigrant campaign happening. There is a NO ILLEGAL Immigration campaign happening. Learn the difference.

The U.S. can’t save the world or take in the world’s population. We have borders and every right to protect them just like every other country.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Wanting to protect the Boarders is NOT Racism"

No, but constantly accusing Spanish-speaking Americans and legal immigrants of being illegal immigrants due to their ethnicity is.

Also, what’s the deal with xenophobes being unable to spell "borders"? Unless you’re really just offended by people who rent rooms, of course…

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Wanting to protect the Boarders is NOT Racism."
Yes, you are correct.

"Throwing out that word all the time when it’s not"
All what time? Examples of what you are referring to are very beneficial, otherwise the claim is easily dismissed.
I suppose you are correct in that calling a country a Shithole Country is not technically racist, neither is calling them rapists.
One can nitpick and claim Donald is not this or that, but everyone knows what he is saying is intended as dog whistle politics that takes advantage of the latent and very prominent racism that exists in society, calling him out for that is a good thing

"The U.S. can’t save the world "
When are we going to stop trying?
Or at least stop using that bullshit excuse for our rampant imperialism.

We have a right to protect our borders but that does not mean we should abuse those least able to defend themselves. Some sick assholes get off on their racist bullshit and they have no place enforcing anything anywhere.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Me thinks thou doth protests too much good sor

?Wanting to protect the Boarders is NOT Racism.?

I don?t often make fun of people?s poor spelling. But when they misspell the most important word in their diatribe in the first sentence it?s pretty hard not to.

?I would be called racists.?

If the shoes fit bro. If the shoes fit.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:2

Wanting to protect the [borders] is NOT [r]acism.

Wanting to protect the borders from people of a certain ethnicity (Latino) or a certain religious group closely associated with a specific ethnicity (Muslims) is racist as racism gets, though. Trump kicked off his presidential campaign by painting Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists. He then instituted the Muslim travel ban in his first year as president.

There is no [a]nti[-i]mmigrant campaign happening.

You?re right. The U.S. government does not run an anti-immigrant campaign?per se. It does, however run a campaign that openly discourages and demonizes people from certain places???countries closely associated with certain ethnicities???who want to immigrate into the United States. Hell, the citizenship question planned for the 2020 census is about making sure White voters have more power than Hispanic/Latino voters.

cradesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In the U.S. maybe but Brexit was already a nice stain on populism before Trump. Not to mention some major historical events somewhere before WW2… Populism means targeting emotions instead of reality. Pretending what you think lots of people want to be true is true and hoping lots of people won’t investigate any further because they like what you are saying.

Thadsays:

Re: Re:

When exactly did that become an insult or a bad thing?

Around 2016, when people started using it synonymously with nationalist movements like Brexit and politicians like Trump and Le Pen. I think it’s an unfortunate usage (Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are populists at least as much as Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, at least under the classical definition of "populism"), but it’s become quite a common one.

Course, the irony is that Rezo explicitly told people not to vote for AfD. Graefe is being completely disingenuous here; he’s using "populist" as a dog-whistle to imply a similarity between nationalists like the AfD and activists like Rezo. There isn’t any, aside from "common man" rhetoric that’s frankly pretty common across politicians and activists of all stripes.

Of course, that could very well be the point. Establishment politicians (and journalists) using "populism" as a blanket term to imply that left-wing economic movements are equivalent to right-wing social movements may not be an accident.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Buddy – I didn’t cite Wikipedia as an authoritative source that the correct capitalization is "fax". I cited it to demonstrate that it is not only my opinion that that’s how to write it. Whoever wrote and edited that article share the opinion. If you want to know what the general standard is for the word (and I suspect you don’t), feel free to browse the primary sources on the article. Or if you like, here are some other sources indicating it should not be capitalized:

http://identitystandards.illinois.edu/writingstyleguide/
https://visualeditorialstandards.psu.edu/editorial-style-manual/capitalization/
https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/search.epl (search for "fax")

But of course if you would like to continue capitalizing it, knock yourself out.

JoeCoolsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

When they work, then they’re fine… for things that aren’t private. You’d hope that things like medical records would use a more secure system, but medicine is one of the biggest areas still using fax machines. My brother needed some health care, and it took three weeks and ten faxes for the insurance and doctor’s office to exchange faxes on procedures and financial info. Just try to tell me that’s actually secure.

Anonymoussays:

Anything that thrashes neoliberal establishment parties and politicians that are subservient to corporate interests is great in my book.

Kick the establishment out, counter the fringe right psychos who try to sneak in as they get kicked out, move farther left, and gut corporate power of all stripes. I believe in the youth of Germany and the rest of the EU member countries that they can steer their nations and larger union in a better direction, and possibly give everyone over here in America a lesson or two on how to deal with greedy corporations. I’d love for a far-left wave to descend on D.C. and get us universal health care, properly reinstate Net Neutrality under Title II, gut Facebook and Google and Disney with antitrust, and much more.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re:

That won’t happen as long as the media is concentrated in the hands of a few entities. Six, if memory serves.

The trouble with far left policies is that they don’t take variables into account nd they’re so ideologically hidebound that when something unexpected happens they’re completely unprepared for it.

You can say that about any policy predicated on a best case scenario. Britain’s NHS was put together by hard-headed realists who understood that the status quo of private healthcare provision would have to be allowed to continue and run alongside it (as it still does) in order to get it off the ground. Idealists don’t like to compromise and when they don’t get their way, the resultant authoritarianism makes a bigger mess than the one it was supposed to clean up. I can’t abide idealogues for this reason.

Oh, and it scares the hell out of me that the concept of universal healthcare and anything else in the public interest is considered to be far left. That, dear friends, is what’s wrong with the Right today. Sort that out.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh, and it scares the hell out of me that the concept of universal healthcare and anything else in the public interest is considered to be far left. That, dear friends, is what’s wrong with the Right today. Sort that out.

Adolf Hitler, usually thought of as far-right, was an advocate of universal health care, expanded social welfare, was an environmentalist and advocate for renewable energy. He was also a vegetarian, and health and physical fitness advocate. "Far right" Hitler stood for many of the same ideals that the "left/far left" are generally known for today.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you check the political History of both Hitler and Mussolini you will find they both have their roots in socialism.

What do you mean by that, that they were interested in socialism before turning to fascism?

Indeed NAZI was the National Socialist party.

And yet it was a fascist party, not a socialist party. You don’t think the German Democratic Republic was a democratic republic just because it was called that, do you?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini all preached that for the good of society, the state should control everything. They disputed various details, and Hitler added outright racism to his branding. Like many with a common religious heritage, minor doctrinal differences became more important than shared beliefs.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini all preached that for the good of society, the state should control everything.

Getting into whether Stalin was really a communist or just a dictator is probably beyond the scope of Techdirt comments, but he was certainly in control of everything. The political philosophy of Hitler and Mussolini was fascism: "a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy." So yes, they were in favor of a dictatorial, authoritarian form of government. Now, are you going to continue trying to claim that Mussolini was a socialist? If so, please bring some evidence, such as a description of his policies and how they fit into a socialist philosophy and not a fascist one.

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