More Breitbart ‘fake news’

The Breitbart news site has been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about an alleged Muslim attack on a church in Germany. This has been debunked by multiple sources.

This raises concerns for a number of reasons:

  • The ex CEO of Bretibart, Steve Barron, will soon become Trump’s chief strategist in the White House.
  • Breitbart plans to set up a German language site (and also a French site).
  • Germany is having elections this year.
  • Whale Oil wants to imitate Breitbart  in New Zealand.

Guardian: German police quash Breitbart story of mob setting fire to Dortmund church

German media and politicians have warned against an election-year spike in fake news after the rightwing website Breitbart claimed a mob chanting “Allahu Akbar” had set fire to a church in the city of Dortmund on New Year’s Eve.

After the report by the US site was widely shared on social media, the city’s police clarified that no “extraordinary or spectacular” incidents had marred the festivities.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said elements of its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by Breitbart to produce “fake news, hate and propaganda”.

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said that “the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own”.

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the Breitbart.com story with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

It said the men had “chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church”, while also massing “around the flag of al-Qaida and Islamic State collaborators the Free Syrian Army.”

The local newspaper said Breitbart had combined and exaggerated unconnected incidents to create a picture of chaos and of foreigners promoting terrorism.

Dortmund police on Thursday said its officers had handled 185 missions that night, sharply down from 421 the previous year. The force’s leader judged the night as “rather average to quiet”, in part thanks to a large police presence.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily said Breitbart had used exaggerations and factual errors to create “an image of chaotic civil war-like conditions in Germany, caused by Islamist aggressors”.

Breitbart is unlikely to be deterred by belated debunking of their slanted and misleading campaigns.

Bild, Germany’s top-selling daily, also predicted trouble ahead – pointing to the fact that Breitbart’s former editor Steve Bannon had been appointed as US president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

It warned that Breitbart – which plans to launch German and French language sites – could seek to “aggravate the tense political climate in Germany”.

Meanwhile in New Zealand Whale Oil is trying to revive it’s imitation of Breitbart – and already has a history of anti-Muslim posts.

How Whaleoil can become New Zealand’s Breitbart

Whaleoil can become New Zealand’s Breitbart if the subscription numbers continue to grow. We will use the extra income to hire more staff and we will train interns. Given the appropriate resources, we will expand services which may possibly include news aggregation from sources you can trust.

When you subscribe to Whaleoil you become part of our plan to once again imitate what works overseas and to replicate its success here in New Zealand.

Sources you can trust? Breitbartising Whale Oil might appeal to those who want to be told what they believe, but the trust levels here are already very low.

Because of this Whale Oil rarely gets traction in social and mainstream media for any of the campaigns they try to run – they have been complaining about the lack of media interest in their daily barrage of pro-Israel anti-NZ Government posts.

Any ‘news’ posted by Whale Oil should be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism, whether it is from their own ‘tip line’ or unnamed sources, or from ‘trusted sources’ like Breitbart. Both have records of political skulduggery and dirt – and Whale Oil has been promising to get dirtier this year.

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61 Comments

  1. “The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said elements of its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by Breitbart to produce “fake news, hate and propaganda”.”

    So to complete the story Pete – what were these “elements” in the Ruhr Nachricten?

    Because a quick search doesn’t show it

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th January 2017

    My first question is whether the Guardian story is actually true. It contains no source links to let it be checked and verified despite all its allegations. I suspect the truth is that Breitbart hyped the news rather than faked it but no way to know unless you can find and read the German sources.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th January 2017

      I suspect if you want to find examples of slanted and misleading attacks the Guardian itself would be a rich source.

      Reply
      • That’s diverting from this story. You could write off all news sources if you wanted to judge them on any slanted or misleading stories.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  8th January 2017

          All the links in your story were to the Guardian which has a well-known heavy Left bias. To take one hyped story from Breitbart and blow it up into a threat to democracy is just silly and fake news itself.

          Reply
          • Exactly Al…. those complaining hardest about “fake news” are outlets that feel threaten in their business models by new news and opinion sources, but more than that feel threaten about their controlling, filtering and slanting of news events…

            Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  8th January 2017

      The German sources are there Al. I’m not sure if youre fluent but if not google provides a translate button. Cheers,c

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th January 2017

        Yes, they are in the Breitbart story but not in the Guardian one that criticises it.

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  8th January 2017

          Okay, I offer up this link if for nothing else than the entertainment value it provides when the ‘translate’ button is hit…

          http://meedia.de/2017/01/04/1-000-mann-mob-zuendet-kirche-an-wie-ein-rechtes-us-portal-dortmund-in-den-ausnahmezustand-versetzte/

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th January 2017

          Good suggestion c. Breitart clearly pushing a shonky agenda.

          “In fact, the report is a teaching example for the deliberate over-turning of facts, but also for the lack of media competences of German politicians. It all began with an article of Ruhr news. There they show themselves horrified, which was the result of their own reporting at Breitbart.

          Under the heading “Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve”, the Americans draw a picture of Dortmund as a city in which the police seem to have lost control. The order keepers would describe everything as “quiet” and “normal”. The Breitbart text, however, suggests that everything is a lie.

          The Americans also describe the situation in the Ruhr metropolis:

          At midnight, the situation threatened to escalate. A livewire published by the Ruhr Nachrichten reported did a crowd of “at least 1,000 young men” began throwing fireworks into crowds of visitors, so Which included families with children. Asked by actor, the mob turned to pelt fireworks at police instead.
          Despite the prohibition of the fireworks, the fire brigade, the fire brigade, the fire brigade,

          In addition, a Syrian mob also celebrated the firebreak in the distant homeland and chanted “Allahu Akbar”.

          Just one click on the live ticker, the Breitbart called as the source shows : That’s all almost right. Only in a few details have the authors made decisive facts in their sense. Thus, the church’s chair would not be lit. Instead, only one bombarder rocket would be fired into the scaffolding planing the church tower. There a small fire lit the fire brigade very quickly and easily under control. From a group of Syrians, there should also have been “Allahu Akbar” calls.

          The actual course of events summarizes the author of the Ruhr Nachrichten, Peter Bandermann, as follows :

          Between 18.45 and 23.30 hrs, young foreign men in large and small groups traveled mainly through the city center. On the square of Leeds, they formed a large group consisting of at least 1000 people. Pyrotechnics were thrown into the crowds and on policemen. At the main station, an unknown person fired a New Year’s Eve on a homeless man and hurt him hard. From the Kleppingstraße the fire brigade had to delete a burning building fence network at the Reinoldikirche. There were no sexual assaults like a year ago in Cologne.

          In addition, the police showed “provisional satisfaction”. “The clear presence of all the security partners has apparently had an influence on the hitherto quiet course of this deployment. We immediately brought support to the rapidly growing population. “

          Reply
    • David

       /  8th January 2017

      Breitbart put a slant on the story the Guardian doesn’t like, therefor, ‘Fake News!’

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  8th January 2017

        If something didn’t happen, it didn’t happen. The story about aliens at Rothwell was widely reported, but it wasn’t true.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  8th January 2017

          Roswell.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  9th January 2017

            Sorry, my mistake.

            Neighbours and I once saw a flying saucer shaped light whizzing across the sky and back; it was there for ages. They wanted someone else to see it, so knocked on my door. We couldn’t think what it was, but it proved to be a spotlight from so far away that one wouldn’t have believed that light could carry that distance-30+ km. There was no beam of light visible. UFO believers must have had a field day.

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  9th January 2017

            I thought that there were photos of ‘aliens’ at Roswell that were obviously fakes, but I can’t find these online.

            Reply
  3. False report of Muslim mob in Germany

    On January 3, 2017, Virginia Hale reported on Breitbart that “At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church” giving the wrong impression of “chaotic civil war-like conditions in Germany, caused by Islamist aggressors”.

    The story is factually wrong: neither is St. Reinold’s Church the oldest church in Germany (only the oldest in the historic center of Dortmund) nor was the church “alight” and is clearly still there. and while 1000 people gathered the majority of them were locals and not muslims; no policemen were attacked: the official police report notes a “average to quiet new year’s eve” with “no spectacular facts to report”, while the firefighters note an “almost normal weekend night” and mention that a “safety net at the Reinoldi church caught fire by a fireworks rocket, but was quickly extinguished” (because of consumer fireworks, small fires like this frequently happen at New Years).

    The false story was then subsequently picked up by an Austrian web site before it returned to Germany when politician Thorsten Hoffmann fell for it. In Germany—where Breitbart News is broadly considered to be a fake news website —almost every news paper reported about Breitbart publishing the hoax and distorting facts for “hate and propaganda” against muslims.

    Breitbart has declined to comment, and as of January 7, 2017, the article is still online and not corrected.

    Reply
  4. David

     /  8th January 2017

    Ironic given that the German authorities tried to cover up the previous years mass sexual assault and the police chief had to resign.
    The Guardian is hardly the most objective news source and one would suggest the truth is somewhere in the middle, the German authorities have form with downplaying troubles.

    Reply
    • And The Local De? Deutschlandfunk? Presseportal? Dortmund.de? Spiegel? N-TV?

      DW posted:

      “Breitbart” reported that the men seen in a video posted by “Ruhr Nachrichten” reporter Peter Bandermann had amassed “around the flag of al-Qaeda and ‘Islamic State’ collaborators, the ‘Free Syrian Army.'”
      However, the flag seen in the video is widely used by various elements of the Syrian opposition, and dates to Syria’s independence from French occupation.

      Where in the middle do you suggest?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th January 2017

        So the Breitbart article linked to its source news sites so that you could check its claims and also reported the police statement denying them but its critics slandered it with no sources linked. Situation normal.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  8th January 2017

          According to the de Speigel link (via Google translate?) reporting the police statement there were “single calls” of “Alluha Akbar” from the crowd of 1000 people and no indication the fire started by a rocket was done intentionally.

          I doubt many native Germans would be gathering around a Syrian rebel flag. I read this as a bit of spin from Breitbart and a deal of counter spin from the Left. The truth is in the middle and not particularly comfortable.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  8th January 2017

            I just went back and reread the Breitbart article. Aside from the debatable assumption that the rocket was deliberately targeted at the church there is little in it to challenge IMO and it seems a lot more objective than its critics.

            Reply
            • From the one paragraph you refer to:
              <blockquote.Despite the prohibition of lighting pyrotechnics near churches, firemen had to intervene after fireworks were launched at St Reinolds, Germany’s oldest church, setting the roof alight.
              Fireworks weren’t launched at the church, it isn’t Germany’s oldest church, and the roof wasn’t set alight.

              0/3 correct.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  8th January 2017

              No-one knows where the rocket was aimed. It was fired in defiance of police. It is the oldest church in the historic precinct. There was a fire in the scaffolding around the roof. You could find small errors like that in our own newspaper reports every day as everyone who’s ever been involved in a news story knows.

    • David

       /  8th January 2017

      This is the problem. By suppressing reporting of news that is not inline with one groups agenda, you create a vacuum that is very quickly filled.

      The fact much of the media has just become so supine to particular world views means it is completely broken. Trump would never have had a chance in a world where the media had even a scrap of integrity, he waltz straight through their hypocrisy.

      Reply
  5. PDB

     /  8th January 2017

    PG: “This raises concerns for a number of reasons:
    ◾The ex CEO of Bretibart, Steve Barron, will soon become Trump’s chief strategist in the White House”.

    If he is the ex-CEO why is this a ‘concern’?

    Reply
    • If methods Breitbart used under his leadership are implemented under his leadership in the White House that’s a concern to me. (Past media practices from the White House have also been a concern).

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th January 2017

        I think that is all Lefty b.s., PG. Of course Trump will want like-minded people in his team. That pretty much rules out all of the Lefty media which he has out-manoeuvred by firing his own sound-bites direct to the public via Twitter leaving them unable to spin via edits.

        I give no credibility to the Lefty media’s wails about ethics given their own lack of them.

        Reply
        • I have as many concerns about Breitbart, Barron and their questionable credibility.

          That the existing media is crap is not a decent reason to excuse more crap.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  8th January 2017

            See above. If this is the worst example of Breitbart misreporting the Left can find then it is a pretty reliable source.

            Reply
      • David

         /  8th January 2017

        How on earth is it any different to Alastair Campbell et.al. These people are propagandists, no one is under any illusions about this. It seems most people’s concern is simply that Steve Barron is really good at it.

        Reply
        • I’ve been very critical of Campbell in the past. Barron’s methods are different, taking advantage of social media and exploiting old media weaknesses.

          That old media was bad and is deteriorating doesn’t excuse new abuses.

          It’s important that the White House under Trump is held to account, and
          as flawed as they are it will require old media in the main to do that.

          I don’t accept excusing crap now because it was crap before.

          Reply
          • David

             /  8th January 2017

            Yes, the President must always be held to account. This is something the media is simply not equipped for currently, having spent 8 years as little more than a lapdog.

            The question is can they rebuild enough credibility to be taken seriously when they are up against a media magician?

            Reply
  6. As others have noted, I don’t think the Guardian is an exemplar of unbiased reporting and able to protest about fake news without displaying hypocrisy.
    Remember the big fuss that was made in the Guardian with a video by Jeremy Corbyn about overcrowding on a train to Newcastle and how he had to stand. It only came out about a week later after Branson released CCTV from the train (and got pilloried by the press for it) showing that it was a put up job and the leader of the opposition had seats for him and his wife.
    What is the difference between that mainstream press “fake news” and Breibart articles?

    Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  8th January 2017

    Bet you the rate of mortality everywhere remains unchanged at 100%.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th January 2017

      That’s a proportion, not a rate.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  8th January 2017

        Oh well, if you want to get all semantic to make the figures fit YOUR narrative … 😄

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  8th January 2017

          Personally, I’m trying to slow the rate down even if I can’t change the proportion.

          Reply
  8. How much of this conversation has been created by Whale Oils’ statement that it intends to replicate Brietbart’s blog in the NZ context? Truth still is hopefully an objective matter still rather than an objective one?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  8th January 2017

      Your pre-post editing looks as effective as mine.

      Reply
      • Yes, I was always pulled up for either stuttering or repeating myself, double negatives are the worst failure. Sorry chaps and chappesses.

        Reply
  9. I read both the Breitbart story and the Guardian one. While Breitbart put their usual spin on things, it doesn’t appear inaccurate. Newspapers have been publishing stories like this for centuries.

    Other news outlets appear to be smearing Breitbart without disputing the substantial facts. The only mistake of fact Breitbart has made is regarding the age of the church, a minor mistake that pales by comparison to a news outlet nicknamed “The Grauniad”.

    Reply

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