We wrote here about how Der Spiegel, Europe’s largest news magazine, made a fool of itself by publishing an entirely fictional article about Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and the “Trump voters” who live there. While the extent to which that article was fiction may have been unintended, its anti-Trump–and anti-American–tenor was not. Now, Der Spiegel has published a hit piece on Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Like the residents of Fergus Falls, Grenell is collateral damage. The real enemy is…well, you be the judge.
Der Spiegel begins rather bizarrely with a denunciation of Tucker Carlson:
Tucker Carlson’s worldview doesn’t come across as particularly complex. It can be summed up in three words: Foreigners threaten America. That’s all that’s needed for good ratings.
His show on the right-wing Fox News channel is among the most successful political shows on American cable TV. The mouthpiece of the American neo-Nazis, the Daily Stormer, has described him as “literally our greatest ally.” His most prominent viewer is Donald Trump.
Got that? Trump is a Nazi! It’s an authoritative characterization, coming from the land of the actual Nazis.
Ambassador Grenell appeared on Carlson’s show and talked about the German government’s refugee policy:
The ambassador made it clear in just a few sentences how little he thought of the chancellor’s refugee policy. “There was no plan in place,” he said, “so the policy really fell apart.” He claimed that anyone calling for secure borders in Germany today faces an “overreaction.” The discourse, he said, is largely being controlled by “elites in Berlin” and he argued that anyone who speaks openly about the issue runs the risk of being portrayed as being part of the “radical far-right” by the German media.
All of that is more or less indisputably true. What’s the point?
Grenell’s TV interview was a thinly veiled call for a change of government in Berlin.
Oh, please. But appearing on Carlson’s show is only the beginning. Now we get to Grenell’s conduct as ambassador:
Many previous U.S. ambassadors were major political and social figures in the capital, enjoying excellent connections to the Chancellery and federal ministries, and playing host to the most powerful and influential personalities in Germany.
… Grenell has taken a different path. On the day he took up his post, he tweeted that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Martin Schulz, the former head of the center-left Social Democratic Party, compared his behavior to that of “a right-wing extremist colonial officer.”
Huh? That is wacky even by the debased standards of American political discourse.
Four weeks later in Breitbart, the main organ of the pro-Trump, right-wing “alt-right” movement, Grenell essentially called for regime change. “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe,” he said.
Which, obviously, is not a “call for regime change.”
Now we get to what may be Der Spiegel’s principal grievance:
In the week before Christmas, Grenell wrote a letter to DER SPIEGEL about the Relotius case, in which longtime DER SPIEGEL journalist Claas Relotius was revealed to have invented reporting for several of his stories, including about the United States. Grenell was justifiably angry, but he didn’t stop there. He accused DER SPIEGEL of anti-Americanism, writing that the United States was clearly “targeted by institutional bias.”
This was the Fergus Falls, Minnesota story, and Grenell’s characterization of it is entirely fair. See my linked post above.
DER SPIEGEL editors and reporters, he argued, had regularly published reports “which could have been proven untrue if they had checked the facts with the Embassy first.” He also wrote that “unfortunately, it is common practice for Spiegel reporters to not even call us before writing.”
To which the magazine responds by complaining that Grenell declined to be interviewed for the article at hand. It is easy to understand why, but this is entertaining:
On Thursday, the embassy answered a list of questions with a written statement: “All seven of your questions are based on fabricated stories that are not true. Every one of the questions assumes something that is false. Konstantin von Hammerstein uses the same tactics as Claas Relotius by pushing a false narrative with anonymous sources.”
Heh. It would be fun to see the questions! The magazine was undeterred, of course, and published its article based on interviews with enemies of Grenell, President Trump, and, perhaps, the U.S.:
Almost all of these [anonymous] sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others. After one of his appearances, we were told, he asked almost shyly how he had done.
Got that? Grenell is just like Trump! (Other than the gay part, of course.) He is vain, narcissistic and brash–so much so that after a speech, he asks “shyly,” how did I do? How brash can you get?
Der Spiegel tells us that all the best Germans can’t stand Grenell:
Anyone who doesn’t absolutely need to meet Grenell avoids it. “I have no interest in people who are going through Europe with a wrecking ball,” says former Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir. He is one of several prominent politicians who keep their contact to the American ambassador to a minimum.
Nothing like going to a former head of the Green Party for an objective view of a Republican ambassador. There is much, much more, including an unfavorable contrast between Grenell and his predecessor, Barack Obama’s ambassador Philip Murphy–now the Governor of New Jersey–who, according to Der Spiegel, was beloved by German politicians and bureaucrats. It is easy to understand why. The ambassador of a president who has no intention of advancing his country’s interests can only be popular.
Der Spiegel concludes by denouncing Grenell for being photographed with members of the Alternative For Germany, a new, immigration-skeptic party that won 94 seats in Germany’s most recent election. That is, I suppose, the acid test: those who want border enforcement favor national sovereignty, an inconvenient obstacle to the ambitions of the international New Class. The real target of Der Spiegel’s ire, I think, is anyone who stands in the way of the rapacious New Class, of which its editors and reporters are members. American voters–especially those whom Der Spiegel libeled in its Fergus Falls fantasy–are high on the enemies list.