Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Meet RT's German spokesman: Manuel Ochsenreiter, publisher of the neo-Nazi magazine "Zuerst!"

Manuel Ochsenreiter is not a household name either in the United States nor in his native Germany. He's the editor of Zuerst!, a German news magazine which describes itself as "committed only to the life and survival interests of the German people and the precious heritage of our European culture". In an easy-to-read format familiar to readers of mainstream news magazines, Zuerst! features articles promoting Neue Rechte and V├Âlkisch ideas such as the preservation of "German ethnical (sic) identity", burnishing the image of the Third Reich in popular culture and opposing what it regards as the humiliating legacy of denazification. The current edition of Zuerst! features one story about "welfare immigrants" and another about "gypsy pickpockets". Other stories focus on the evils of globalization and loss of ethnic identity. Another piece criticizes Berlin's Holocaust memorial. (They also have a piece which implausibly claims that many Russians would like to return Kaliningrad to Germany, comparing this to the situation in Crimea.)  Zuerst!'s publisher is longtime far-right publisher Dietmar Munier, a veteran of Germany's far-right political scene and reportedly a friend to several Holocaust deniers. Munier's company (Lesen & Schenken) calls Zuerst! "the strong voice for German interests!", elsewhere clarifying that "the German news magazine ZUERST! will serve German - not foreign - interests."

Obviously, most Germans strongly disagree with the idea that apologetics for Nazism and racism are in their interest.  Shortly after Zuerst! began publication in 2010, workers for its then distributor (Bauer Media) disagreed so strongly with that claim that they threatened to strike, refusing to handle the magazine. Bauer, which is Germany's largest magazine publisher and has a growing worldwide presence, washed its hands of Zuerst! after an embarrassing expose in Der Spiegel. (More here.) (At the same time Bauer Media broke its ties with several other far-right, pro-Nazi German publications, and with a producer of Nazi-themed pornography.)

You've most likely never heard of Manuel Ochsenreiter -- few people outside of the German far-right have -- but somehow those who program RT did hear of him, singling him out as their primary on-air spokesman for the German point of view. He's appeared on the network scores of times over the past four years. While it may appear more than a bit odd that RT would choose the editor of a neo-Nazi magazine to be their expert on German public opinion, in a way it makes perfect sense precisely because so few people know who he is. RT identifies him on air merely as a German journalist. Moreover, judging by his on-air performance, he is very happy to say whatever it takes to keep his patrons at RT happy.

For example, on the March 17 edition of the RT talk show Cross Talk, Ochsenreiter started by comparing the Crimea invasion to the reunification of Germany, then veered off-script to state that Tatars in Crimea who are not in the pay of the EU actually supported secession from Ukraine. The program's host interrupted this implausible report to ask a leading question about the freedom of the voting in the Crimea secession referendum . In reply to this, Ochsenreiter laughed as he reported that the voting did not take place "under the gun...there were no guns". Then, as he stared somewhat forlornly at the camera, a fellow guest corrected this obvious distortion by arguing that the referendum could safely take place only under the protection of Russian guns -- that the guns were there to protect democracy from pro-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists.  Again at the prompting of the program's host, Ochsenreiter turned his attention from the purported non-violence of Russia's presence in Crimea, to parroting almost word for word the host's statement that German taxpayers were being asked by the EU to pay Ukraine's debts. You may think that such servile on-the-spot reproductions of a party line from an English-speaking alleged journalist are easy to come by, but you'd be wrong. For that reason alone, it's perfectly understandable that RT would resort to airing the views of the editor of a neo-Nazi propaganda pamphlet masquerading as a news magazine.

Ochsenreiter with Alexandr Dugin


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