That was a flop,“WamS”

My 5 cents on the pseudo-revelation story of “Welt am Sonntag” about the German COVID-19 strategy paper

Credits: Monika Czosnowska

12.02.2020 | On february 07th, German printpaper Welt am Sonntag (WamS) published a pretended revelation article with the title “Maximum Collaboration” on the first secret COVID-19 strategy paper. WamS-journalists Anette Dowideit and Alexander Nabert stated that they had 210 pages of confidential emails that had accompanied the creation process of the paper from March 19–23, 2020. After a months-long legal dispute, a group of lawyers around Niko Härting had successfully obtained the release of the relevant documents from the BMI and RKI. The email dialogue took place between Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, State Secretary Markus Kerber, the authors of the BMI strategy paper, and various RKI officials, including Lothar Wieler and most likely also Christian Drosten, the German virologist responsible for the PCR-test desaster.

The authors of WamS took from the emails that repressive measures were the actual, political a priori goal, for the justification of which science willingly allowed itself to be harnessed to the cart. The responsible politicians, in turn, invoked the scientists, who had been corrupted by them, to justify the restrictions of their fundamental rights. To all appearances, this is a case of political corruption and scientific corruption on a scale that is unparalleled in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The BMI and RKI are therefore understandably in a state of sheer panic: According to Niko Härting, large parts of the document have been blacked out. Blackenings were made on 160 of 210 pages. Perhaps the most piquant detail: the term most frequently blackened by the RKI is “China” and “Chinese” — according to Härting, these terms have been blackened in more than 100 places.

On the web, the WamS article was received ambivalently. Some commentators praised it as “outstanding research” and the WELT/WamS as the “last bulwark of investigative journalism”. For others, the initial euphoria soon gave way to great disillusionment: they pointed out a serious error in the article regarding the all-important question of the mortality rate: in obedience loyal to the government, the authors cited an estimated lethality rate of 1%, which had long since been disproved, and thus even reconfirmed the central propaganda statement of the panic paper. Evidence-based figures? 0.25%? Ioannidis? WHO statement? Never heard.

Many online commentators therefore accuse “WamS” of a purely tactically motivated “pseudo-revelation” for the purpose of damage limitation for the government. The article is intended to suggest to the reader that there is still controversial journalism in the country, that rigorous and unsparing investigations are being carried out here — in order to then ultimately allow the calculated outrage to effectively fizzle out with fake figures.

In the meantime, critical voices are increasing, demanding that the lawyers around Niko Härting release the complete 210-page background email file. The case is of too high social relevance to serve as an exclusive story for the profiling of individual lawyers or journalists. In a functioning constitutional state, we would strictly speaking be dealing with a case for the public prosecutor’s office anyway.

Various journalists and scientists who currently asked Niko Härting about a later publication or inspection of the material received the gruff answer “The trial is still ongoing.”

It is strange that he was allowed to release the documents to the two WamS journalists who were not familiar with the subject matter and who then reported on them in the erroneous and manipulative manner described above. So it seems to work after all — the only question is who is allowed to report on it. This is a classic case of gatekeeping.

Härting also ignored the numerous other public requests for publication of the original documents in the social media with conspicuous persistence. On the one hand, he staged himself as a great enlightener in the ‘Causa Panikpapier’, on the other hand, he is now protecting access to the original documents as a new “gatekeeper”. According to Härting, many parts of the documents are still blacked out and negotiations with the RKI and the BMI are still ongoing — but even in this form, the documents could provide the public with urgently needed information for the investigation of the Corona crime and are therefore actually already fully entitled to them. A leak would be slow in coming, and whoever did it would have a chance to become a hero. Not a “special hero” (as a recent German propaganda clip dubbed citizens who obediently stay at home and watch netflix) — but a real hero.

Every additional day of lockdown means untold suffering for millions of citizens in this country, millions of children may be traumatized for life at this moment. The child psychiatric hospitals are overcrowded, and the real triage has long been taking place there.

In view of the high relevance of the data set for the public and Niko Härting’s cagey attitude, it can now be assumed that further parallel lawsuits against the BMI and RKI will soon follow. Thus, the pressure on those responsible for the Corona disaster will continue to grow. Now that the democracy movement knows that these documents exist, in principle anyone can take legal action against these two highly corrupt government agencies on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act.

Exclusive access to privileged government knowledge is more than out of place in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe such as ours, and is forbidden from an ethical and humanistic perspective alone. We are dealing here with a human crime of epic dimensions. The last thing we need right now is ‘gatekeeping’-journalism protecting this shitshow. What we need is radical, dedicated whistleblowing journalism à la Julian Assange.

We need whistleblowers.

This commentary appeared in an abridged version on 12.02.2020 in the 36th issue of the weekly newspaper “Democratic Resistance” with the title: “WamS publishes pseudo-revelation on BMI panic paper”.

Translated with (free version)

Cultural anthropologist & Freelance journalist. Team Demokratischer Widerstand

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