Former German counterintelligence chief Hans-George Maassen recently criticized the media, accusing them of a clear lean to the left. According to him, there is a strong connection, especially between the public television station ARD and the left-wing scene. Maassen therefore suggested that the “character traits” of some editors be tested.
Maassen was immediately criticized by many journalists as well as members of left-wing parties who referred to his “attack on press freedom”. Maassen was forced to resign in 2018 after questioning Chancellery’s claim that anti-migrant fights had taken place in Chemnitz, East Germany.
Maassen, who to the displeasure of some party members will run for the CDU in the autumn elections to the Bundestag, criticized the mainstream German media in a television interview, especially the public media channels headed by ARD television and Radio GDR.
“If there is a possibility that there is a connection between the Tagesschau (news broadcast) or between people working for public service and the far left, then it would be worth exploring,” Maassen said in an interview. However, he did not give specific examples. According to Maasen, there is no longer a balance in public media coverage, which leans to the left of the spectrum. The former chief of the secret service also spoke of “manipulation of public opinion”.
According to Maassen, Germany should set up committees of inquiry to “test the character traits” of some editors. Katja Mast, vice-president of the Socialist Group, accused Maassen of an alliance with the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and called his statements dangerous. According to the Green politician Konstantin von Notz, this is again an “attack on freedom of the press”.
The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (SPD), said that Maassen could not be expected to make any different statement and that his only goal was to “shake the credibility of journalism”.
Almost three years ago, Maassen caused a storm on the German political scene with his claim about what was happening in Chemnitz, where demonstrations and attacks on foreigners took place after the murder of a German by a young Syrian. One of the demonstrations was captured on a widely published video, which the head of counterintelligence questioned, stating that the video may have been purposefully disseminated false information. He later changed his rhetoric and stated that he had no evidence for this claim.
In 2019, Maassen again attracted attention with his statement that migration across the Mediterranean should be stopped immediately. According to him, people from some NGOs who transport migrants to Europe by ship are dangerous fanatics who want to present their moral superiority.
Title image: In this Oct. 5, 2017 file photo, Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, arrives for a public hearing at the parliamentary control committee of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin. A saga over Germany’s outgoing domestic intelligence chief that hurt the country’s government has taken a new twist, with his move to another job apparently in danger. German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported that Maassen, in a farewell speech, strongly criticized what he described as radical left-wing forces in the Social Democrats, and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is now considering whether to dismiss him or send him into retirement. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)