Ole Skambraks is an employee of German public broadcasting. His latest essay also brands him as a heretic in the Church of Corona and a traitor to the Pandemic Narrative.
Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this piece from Multipolar Magazin. The translator includes this prefatory note:
I find it quite amazing that he addresses something we’ve been complaining about for YEARS. This is nothing NEW, but it took this Plandemic to rattle his (forced-funded by the taxpayer) gilded cage and wake him up. Better late than never, and I guess we should be thankful for even this little crumb of guilty conscience.
The translated article:
I can’t do it anymore
In an open letter, an ARD [German regional public broadcaster] employee is critical of one and a half years of Corona reporting: Ole Skambraks has been working as an editorial staff member and editor with public broadcasting for twelve years.
I can no longer be silent. I can no longer silently accept what has been going on for a year and a half at my employer, the public service broadcaster. In the statutes and state media treaties, things like “balance”, “social cohesion” and “diversity” are anchored in the reporting. The exact opposite is practiced. There is no real discourse and exchange in which all parts of society can find themselves included.
Right from the start, I was of the opinion that public service broadcasting should fill exactly this space: promoting dialogue between proponents and critics, between people who are afraid of the virus and people who are afraid of losing their fundamental rights, between vaccination advocates and skeptics. But for the past year and a half, the space for discussion has narrowed considerably.
Scientists who were respected in the time before Corona, who were given space in public discourse, are suddenly crazy, tinfoil-hat wearers or Covidiots. As a much-cited example, reference is made to Wolfgang Wodarg. He is a multiple specialist, epidemiologist and long-standing health politician. Until the Corona crisis, he was also on the board of Transparency International. In 2010, as chairman of the health committee in the Council of Europe, he exposed the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the swine flu pandemic. At that time he was able to express his opinion personally on public broadcasting, but since Corona this has not been possible anymore. So-called fact-checkers have taken his place and discredit him.
Instead of an open exchange of views, a “scientific consensus” was proclaimed, which must be defended. Anyone who doubts this and calls for a multidimensional perspective on the pandemic earns outrage and malice.
This pattern also works within the editorial offices. I haven’t been working on the daily news for a year and a half, which I’m very happy about. In my current position, I am not involved in decisions about which topics are to be featured and how. Here I am describing my perception from editorial conferences and an analysis of the reporting. For a long time I did not dare to step out of the role of the observer; the supposed consensus seemed too absolute and unanimous.
For a few months now, I’ve been venturing out onto the ice and making a critical comment here and there in conferences. This is often followed by a concerned silence, sometimes a “thank you for the suggestion” and sometimes an instruction as to why this is not so. Reporting has never emerged from this.
The result of one and a half years of Corona is a division in society that is second to none. Public broadcasting plays a major role in this. It fulfills its responsibility to build bridges between the camps and promote exchange less and less.
The argument is often made that the critics represent a small, negligible minority, to whom one should not give much space for reasons of proportionality. This should be refuted at the latest since the referendum in Switzerland on the Corona measures. Although there is no free exchange of opinions in the mass media either, the vote ended at just 60:40 for the government. Is it possible to speak of a small minority with 40% of the votes cast? It should also be mentioned that the Swiss government had linked the Corona aid payments to the vote, which may have influenced the decision of some to tick “Yes”.
The developments in this crisis are taking place on so many levels and affecting all parts of society so that right now we need not less, but more free space for debate.
What is revealing is not what is discussed on public broadcasting, but what goes unmentioned. There are many reasons for this, and it requires an honest internal analysis. The publications of the media scientist and former MDR Broadcasting [regional public broadcaster] Councilor Uwe Krüger can help, such as his book Mainstream — Why we no longer trust the media.
In any case, it takes some courage to swim against the current in conferences where topics are discussed and discussed. Often the one who can present his arguments most eloquently prevails; in case of doubt, the editorial management decides, of course. Very early on, the equation was that criticism of the government’s Corona rate belongs to the right-wing spectrum. Which editor dares to express a thought in this direction?
The list of inconsistencies and unanswered questions that have not received substantial coverage is very large:
Why do we know so little about gain-of-function research (research into how viruses can be made more dangerous for humans)?
Why does the new Infection Protection Act state that the basic right to physical integrity and the inviolability of the home can from now on be restricted — regardless of an epidemic situation?
Why do people who have already had Covid-19 have to vaccinate again even though they are at least as well protected as people who have been vaccinated?
Why is “Event 201” and the global pandemic exercises in the run-up to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 not discussed or only in connection with conspiracy theories?
Why was the internal paper from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, known to the media, not published in full, and discussed in public, in which it was demanded that authorities must achieve a “shock effect” in order to clarify the effects of the Corona pandemic on human society?
Why does Prof. Ioannidis’ study on the survival rate (99.41% among under 70-year-olds) not make it into a headline, but rather the fatally false projections by the Imperial College (Neil Ferguson predicted half a million Corona deaths in the UK and beyond in the spring of 2020 2 million in the U.S.)?
Why does an expert report prepared for the Federal Ministry of Health say that the occupancy rate of the hospitals in 2020 by Covid-19 patients was only 2%?
Why does Bremen have by far the highest incidence (113 on October 4th, 21) and at the same time by far the highest vaccination rate in Germany (79%)?
Why have payments of €4 million been received into a family account of EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who was responsible for signing the first EU vaccine contracts with the pharmaceutical companies?
Why are people with severe vaccine side effects not portrayed to the same extent as people with severe Covid-19 infections in 2020?
Why does the improper counting method for “vaccination breakthroughs” not bother anyone?
Why does the Netherlands report significantly more side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines than other countries?
Why has the description of the effectiveness of the Covid 19 vaccines on the Paul Ehrlich Institute website changed three times in the last few weeks? “COVID-19 vaccines protect against infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” (15 August 2021) “COVID-19 vaccines protect against a severe course of infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus.” (7 September 2021) “COVID-19 vaccines are indicated for active immunization to prevent the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” (September 27, 2021)
I would like to go into a few points in detail.
“Gain of function” and “lab leak”
“Gain of function research” — that is research to make viruses more dangerous, which was carried out at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, and funded by the USA — I have not heard or read anything substantial to this day. This research takes place in so-called P4 laboratories, which have been working for decades on how viruses occurring in the animal kingdom can be modified in such a way that they are also dangerous for humans. So far, ARD and ZDF have given this topic a wide berth — even though there is a clear need for discussion here. A first question to be discussed, for example, could be: Do we as a society want such research?
There are now numerous reports on the “lab leak theory” — i.e. the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 comes from a laboratory. It should be noted that this topic was immediately branded a conspiracy theory last year. Alternative media that followed this trail have been banned from social networks such as YouTube and Twitter and the information has been deleted. Scientists who voiced this thesis have been massively attacked. Today the “lab leak theory” is at least as plausible as transmission by a bat. The American investigative journalist Paul Thacker has had the results of his meticulous research published in the British Medical Journal. Concerning this Dr. Ingrid Mühlhauser, Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Hamburg, writes:
“He [Thacker] shows, step by step, how the operators of an American laboratory group are deliberately developing a conspiracy theory in order to disguise their laboratory accident in Wuhan as a conspiracy. The myth is supported by renowned magazines such as The Lancet. Science journalists and service providers for fact checks take over the information without reflection. Participating scientists remain silent for fear of losing prestige and research funding. For almost a year, Facebook blocked messages that question the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2. Should the thesis of the laboratory accident be confirmed, ZDF and other media would have defended conspiracy theories.”
Ivermectin and alternatives to vaccination
For months it has also been evident that there are effective and inexpensive treatments for Covid-19 that must not be used. The data on this is clear. But the pseudoscientific disinformation campaigns against these drugs are indicative of the state of our medicine. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has been known for decades and has been used millions of times for malaria and rheumatic diseases. Last year it was suddenly declared dangerous. President Donald Trump’s statement that hydroxychloroquine was a “game changer” did the rest to discredit it. Political reasoning no longer allowed a scientific discussion of HCQ.
All the media reported extensively in the spring about the catastrophic situation in India due to the spread of the Delta variant (at that time there was still talk of the Indian variant of the virus). The fact that India brought the situation under control relatively quickly and that the drug ivermectin played a decisive role in large states such as Uttar Pradesh was no longer worth reporting.
Ivermectin also has preliminary approval for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. At least the MDR reports on this, albeit with a negative connotation.
Ivermectin is not even mentioned in the list of possible drugs by Bayerischer Rundfunk [public broadcaster in Bavaria], and only negative and no positive studies are cited on hydroxychloroquine.
The molecule clofoctol also showed a good effect against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests in the summer of 2020. Until 2005, the antibiotic was commercially available in France and Italy under the names Octofene and Gramplus. The Institut Pasteur in Lille has been prevented by the French authorities several times from starting a study with Covid-19 patients. After several attempts, they recruited the first patient for it at the beginning of September.
Why are health authorities vehemently opposed to treatments that would have been available from the start of the pandemic? I would have liked to have done investigative research by ARD! It should also be mentioned that the new Corona vaccines could only get an emergency approval because there was no officially recognized treatment agent for SARS-CoV-2.
It’s not about promoting some Corona miracle cure. I would like to point out facts that have not received the necessary attention. From the beginning, the opinion was spread in public discourse that only a vaccination can remedy the situation. The WHO went so far as to alter the definition of “herd immunity” to change the sense so that this could be achieved only by vaccination, and not by an earlier infection, as was previously the case.
But what if the path you have chosen is a dead end?
Questions about vaccination effectiveness
Data from the countries with particularly high vaccination rates show that infections with SARS-CoV-2 are not uncommon, even in completely vaccinated people, but are commonplace. Dr. Kobi Haviv, director of the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, says that 85% to 90% of the seriously ill are double vaccinated in his intensive care unit.
The magazine Science writes for the whole of Israel: “On August 15, 514 Israelis with severe or critical Covid-19 illnesses were hospitalized… 59% of these 514 people were fully vaccinated. Of those vaccinated, 87% were 60 years or older.” Science quotes an Israeli government advisor who stated, “One of the great stories from Israel [is], ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough’.”
Furthermore, it can now be seen that vaccinated people carry (and spread) just as much virus material of the delta variant as unvaccinated people.
What are the consequences of this data situation in Germany? A lockdown specifically targeting the unvaccinated, or to put it euphemistically: the “2G rule”. Society is de facto split into two classes. The vaccinated get their freedoms back (because there is no risk potential for others), the unvaccinated (because there is a risk potential for others) have to undergo tests that they are supposed to pay for themselves, and in the case of quarantine no longer receive wages. Employment bans and dismissals due to vaccination status are no longer ruled out, and health insurance companies may prescribe less favorable tariffs for unvaccinated people in the future. Why this pressure on the unvaccinated? Scientifically, this cannot be justified and it is extremely harmful to society.
The antibodies generated by vaccinations decrease significantly after a few months. A look at Israel shows that after the second vaccination there is now the third dose for the entire population and the fourth has already been announced. Anyone who does not refresh their vaccination after six months is no longer considered immune and loses their “Green Pass” (the digital vaccination card that Israel introduced). In the US, Joe Biden is now talking about Corona boosters that are pending every five months. Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, questions this strategy. She explained to the New York Times, “the repeated stimulation of the body’s defenses can also lead to a phenomenon known as ‘immune depletion’.”
There is little discussion of the fact that a much more robust immunity can be built up through natural infection. “Ultrapotent antibodies” or “super immunity” were found in people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the last year. These antibodies react with over 20 different virus mutations and last longer than antibodies produced by the vaccine.
After all, Health Minister Jens Spahn has now announced that antibody detection should also be permitted. In order to be officially immune, a vaccination still has to follow. Who understands this logic? A CNN interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chairman of the National Health Institute (the American equivalent of the RKI [Robert Koch Institute]) makes the absurdity clear. So far, people with natural immunity have not been considered by politics!
I know a doctor who is desperately trying to get an answer on this subject from the health authorities and the RKI: One of her patients has an IgG antibody titer of 400 AU/ml — significantly more than many vaccinated people. His Corona infection was more than six months ago, so he is no longer considered immune. The answer she got was: “Vaccinate him!”, which the doctor refuses with this titer.
Lack of basic journalistic understanding
The way out of the pandemic propagated by politics and the media turns out to be a permanent vaccination subscription. Scientists who demand a different way of dealing with Corona still do not get an adequate stage in the public media, as the sometimes defamatory reporting on the #allesaufdentisch [#all of it onto the table] campaign has shown again. Instead of discussing the content of the videos with those involved, experts were sought who would discredit the campaign. In doing so, the public broadcasters are committing exactly the same mistake that they accuse #allesaufdentisch of.
The Spiegel journalist Anton Rainer said in the SWR interview about the video campaign that it was not about interviews in the classic sense: “In principle, you see two people who agree with each other.” I had a stomach-ache after watching the reporting of my station and was completely irritated by the lack of a basic journalistic understanding to let the other side have their say. I communicated my concerns to those involved and the editorial management by email.
A classic saying in conferences is that a topic is “already decided”. For example, when I mentioned the very likely under-reporting of vaccination complications. Yes, that’s right, the subject was discussed with the in-house expert who — not surprisingly — came to the conclusion that there is no under-reporting. “The other side” is mentioned here and there, but very seldom does it get face time in such a way that people actually speak to those who take critical standpoints.
Critic under pressure
The most outspoken critics have to expect house searches, criminal prosecution, account blocking, transfer or discharge, up to and including admission to a psychiatric ward. Even if it is about opinions whose positions are not shared — in a constitutional state there should be no such thing.
In the USA there is already a discussion about whether criticism of science should be labeled as a “hate crime”. The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded 13.5 million US dollars for the censorship of misinformation in the health sector.
WDR [regional public broadcaster] television director Jörg Schönenborn declared, “Facts are facts that are fixed.” If that were so, how is it possible that behind closed doors scientists argue incessantly and even disagree on some very fundamental questions? As long as we do not make this clear to ourselves, any assumption of a supposed objectivity leads to a dead end. We can only approximate “reality” — and that is only possible in an open discourse of opinions and scientific knowledge.
What is happening right now is not a genuine fight against “fake news”. Rather, the impression is created that any information, evidence or discussion that contradicts the official narrative is prevented.
A current example is the factual and scientifically transparent video by the computer scientist Marcel Barz. In a raw data analysis, Barz is astonished to find that neither the figures on excess mortality, nor on bed occupancy or the incidence of infections, correspond to what we have been reading or hearing from the media and politics for a year and a half. He also shows how one can depict a pandemic with this data and explains why this is for him dishonest. The video was deleted from YouTube with 145,000 views after three days (and only made accessible again after Barz objected and protested). The reason given: “medical misinformation”. Here, too, the question: Who made the decision, and on what basis?
The fact checkers from the Volksverpetzer [people’s agitators] discredit Marcel Barz as a fake. The judgment of corrective is a bit milder (Barz has publicly and at length replied). The report prepared for the Federal Ministry of Health, from which it can be seen that the occupancy rate of the hospitals in 2020 by Covid-19 patients was only 2%, proves him right. Barz contacted the press with his analysis, but received no attention. In a functioning discourse, our media would invite him to debate.
Millions of times content on Corona issues is deleted, as the journalist Laurie Clarke in the British Medical Journal shows. Facebook and Co. are private companies and can therefore decide what is published on their platforms. But are they also allowed to steer the discourse?
Public service broadcasting could create an important balance by ensuring an open exchange of views. But, unfortunately, no result!
Digital vaccination records and monitoring
The Gates and Rockefeller Foundations designed and funded the WHO guidelines for digital vaccination records. They are now being introduced worldwide. Only with them should public life be possible — regardless of whether it is a matter of driving the tram, drinking a coffee or receiving medical treatment. An example from France shows that this digital ID should remain in place even after the end of the pandemic. MEP Emanuelle Ménard has asked for the following addition in the text of the law: The digital vaccination certificate “ends when the spread of the virus no longer poses a sufficient threat to justify its use.” Her proposed amendment was rejected. This means that the step from here to global population control or even a surveillance state through projects such as ID2020 is very small.
Australia is now testing a face recognition app to make sure that people in quarantine stay at home. Israel uses electronic wristbands for this. In an Italian city, drones are being tested to measure the temperature of beach visitors, and in France the law is currently being changed to make large-scale drone monitoring possible.
All of these topics require an intensive and critical exchange within society. But it does not appear in the reporting of our broadcasters enough and was not an election campaign topic.
Narrowed viewing angle
The way in which the perspective of the discourse is narrowed is characteristic of the “gatekeeper of information”. Jan Böhmermann provides a recent example with his demand to give the virologists Hendrik Streeck and Professor Alexander S. Kekulé no stage, because they are not competent.
Apart from the fact that each of the two physicians has an extremely respectable Curriculum Vitae, Böhmermann has readjusted the blinkers. Should people now not even be heard who present, with kid gloves, their criticism of the government’s course?
The restriction of the discourse now goes so far that the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation has repeatedly failed to broadcast the speeches of MPs who are critical of the measures during broadcasts of parliamentary debates in the state parliament.
Is this what the new understanding of democracy in public service broadcasting looks like? Alternative media platforms flourish first and foremost because the established ones no longer fulfill their tasks as a democratic corrective.
Something went wrong For a long time I was able to say with pride and joy that I work for the public service broadcaster. A lot of outstanding research, formats and content come from ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio. The quality standards are extremely high and thousands of employees do an excellent job even under increased cost pressure and savings targets. But something went wrong with Corona. Suddenly I perceive tunnel vision and blinkers and a supposed consensus that is no longer questioned.
The Austrian broadcaster Servus TV shows that it can be done differently. Supporters and critics alike have their say in the program “Corona Quartet” / “Talk in Hangar 7”. Why shouldn’t that be possible on German television? “You can’t give every weirdo a stage,” is the quick answer. The false balance, the fact that serious and dubious opinions are heard equally, must be avoided. — A homicide argument that is also unscientific. The basic principle of science is doubting, questioning, checking. When that no longer happens, science becomes religion.
Yes, there actually is a false balance. It is the blind spot that has entered our heads that no longer allows any real discussion. We throw apparent facts around our ears, but can no longer listen to each other. Contempt takes the place of understanding; fighting the other opinion replaces tolerance. Basic values of our society are thrown overboard willy-nilly. Here they say: people who do not want to vaccinate are crazy, there it says: “Shame on the sleeping sheep.”
While we argue, we do not notice that the world is changing at breakneck speed. Almost all areas of our life are in a transformation. How this works depends largely on our ability to cooperate, empathize, and be aware of ourselves and our words and actions. For our mental health, we would do well to open up the debate room — with mindfulness, respect and understanding for different perspectives.
Writing these lines I feel like a heretic; someone who commits high treason and faces punishment. Maybe it’s not like that at all. Maybe I’m not risking my job here, and freedom of expression and pluralism are not at risk. I hope very much this is so and look forward to a constructive exchange with colleagues.
About the author: Ole Skambraks, born in 1979, studied political science and French at Queen Mary University, London, and media management at ESCP Business School, Paris. He was a presenter, reporter and author at Radio France Internationale, online editor and community manager at cafebabel.com, program manager for the morning show at MDR Sputnik and editor at WDR Funkhaus Europa/Cosmo. He is currently working as an editor in program management/sound design at SWR2.
|1.||The exception was reporting in the context of the referendum, during which Swiss television was obliged to allow both parties the same broadcasting slot (video here).|
|2.||Other pandemic emergency exercises were “Clade X” (2018), “Atlantic Storm” (2005), “Global Mercury” (2003) and “Dark Winter” (2001). These exercises were always about information management.|
|3.||Panorama reported on the payments, but did not clearly explain Kyriakides’ role in relation to the Corona vaccine contracts. Otherwise, the topic was not considered of great importance in the media.|
|4.||For example, the British musician Eric Clapton was rarely reported on public service radio, who developed violent reactions after the vaccination and now regrets it.|
|5.||According to the RKI, a vaccination breakthrough occurs when a person who has been vaccinated can show both a positive test and symptoms — for those who have not been vaccinated, a positive test is sufficient. In this way, the unvaccinated are statistically more significant.|
|6.||Each under the heading “List of approved vaccines”; past website editions of the PEI accessible via the Wayback Machine Internet archive (here, here, and here).|
|7.||The WHO has even praised the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for its Corona policy, but without mentioning ivermectin. The vaccination rate in Uttar Pradesh is below 10%.|
|8.||See also FDA meeting of September 17, 2021, at 5:47:25.|
|9.||The fairest reporting comes from the BR, although here, too, it was talked about and not with the makers. The MDR offers a comprehensive and differentiated analysis on its media portal.|
|10.||I do not want to speak of an actual “unified opinion” of the public law community. There have always been critical contributions and course corrections in the reporting. But it is always a question of the context, the airtime and the extent to which a topic is dealt with. Other colleagues have also noticed the things I have observed.|
|11.||Fresh formats such as “Auf der Couch” from ZDF give hope, even if I don’t think that a Karina Reiss or a Wolfgang Wodarg will soon appear there.|
|12.||The “Dialog Kultur” initiative opens up useful approaches that can also be of interest to media formats.