Attack on the Capitol
Attack on the Capitol: In What Ways is the Media to Blame?

Interview with Claus Gramckow on rbb
Attack on capitol building
Security forces respond to the attack on the capitol building by using tear gas. © picture alliance / | Probal Rashid

Who did the U.S. television networks – each of which can clearly be assigned to one camp or the other – blame for what happened in the Capitol?

This began already last night. Today, throughout the day, the information bubbles on the far right in particular tried to make the claim that Antifa members had something to do with it and were actually the ones who instigated it. But the vast majority of the media believes that Trump's speech was the instigator. And if they listen to the speech more closely, he describes what people did afterwards. After all, he told them, "Go up there and disrupt this vote."

It is a little bit different in the U.S. with the daily newspapers. They place a high value on objectivity in the news section. The New York Times, for example, is also explicitly accused of having normalized Trump. In your view, what is the media's own fault? And what is the bigger problem now: the subjectivity or the objectivity of the media?

Looking back, the media created Donald Trump in the first place. And I think that was the far greater mistake. Without the free media coverage - if you remember, in 2016, four years ago, Donald Trump got free media coverage that was calculated afterwards to be worth about two billion dollars. And the media kept putting Trump in the foreground with his statements. That was the fundamental problem. They created this monster. And then, of course, there is the discussion about the question of objectivity, and we will continue to have this discussion. This began to be criticized very strongly, especially by media like The New York Times that I just mentioned, that Joe Biden was beginning to receive criticism. Then people said, 'Well, what are you actually doing here?' And that has also happened less frequently this time. Hillary Clinton was criticized brutally by all the media and also by the so-called objective media in 2016. So, in this respect, the media play a very ambivalent role, to put it mildly.

Of course, we cannot leave out the social networks here, either. A well-known investor and TV celebrity has now held the Facebook bosses directly responsible, saying: 'There's blood on your hands, you have been rationalizing this terror for four years now.' Were the social networks, for far too long – so, now they have blocked him, yes - but were they too naive in their dealings with Trump and his supporters for too long before that?

Yes, and they also made money from this. That is something that is continually underestimated. And there is a very high value here in American politics: the freedom of speech, which is set much higher, and also more defined, than it is in Germany, for example. Of course, the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are valued highly in Germany, but not in the same way as they are here. And in this respect, the social networks always hid behind this, especially in the beginning, and said: "We only provide a platform where people can express their opinions.” And that is basically what they hid behind for four years. And the cynicism naturally is there now, of course, as all of the sudden Mark Zuckerberg shuts down Donald Trump's Facebook page. So there will be a very, very intense discussion here as well. What are the social media platforms and what is their purpose?