- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

A new German study reveals a global media bias against the United States.
Increasingly negative coverage has given the United States an all-time low image according to Media Tenor, a Bonn-based watchdog group founded in 1993 by investigative journalists and academics to "ensure and protect balanced journalism."
Yankee-bashing is rampant on international television, which is turning more and more negative against the United States, the study found. The German researchers predict it will get worse.
While most stories were judged to be neither clearly positive nor clearly negative, South Africa was the only country last year whose television presented an overall positive image of the United States, and even then only during five sporadic months.
The United States was portrayed positively in about 22 percent of the South African stories, which researchers attributed to the nation's keen interest in American sports. Coverage was more negative on both British and German TV, where more than one-third of all British stories and 20 percent of German stories last year were deemed anti-American.
The study noted that collective "sentiment" toward the Space Shuttle Columbia crash "might have given the image of the U.S. an international relief for a few weeks (or days)."
Anti-American opinions overseas have complex underpinnings. Some argue that the trend has built among leftists since the 1950s; others believe it is a backlash against the short-lived global sympathies for the United States after September 11.
The National Journal's William Powers recently noted that anti-American stories in the global press could mask the desires of critical academics or journalists who really just wanted a teaching spot at Harvard or an op-ed in the New York Times.
"Which raises a question: Where would all these critics be without the American media they so loathe? Nowhere," Mr. Powers said.
The tenor of anti-Americanism focuses more on U.S. foreign policy and American crime, the Media Tenor study stated, than on such matters as environmental issues and "the deteriorating U.S. health system."
But Americans aren't the only ones to get a rough ride.
In a separate study, Media Tenor researchers say Germany has been bashed in an international press eager to chronicle the erosion of German ideals, business or social failings with "malicious joy."
The American media have been the biggest anti-German voice, the study stated.
American television has constantly reminded its viewers that the September 11 attacks were "planned and orchestrated in Hamburg, and Germany has been portrayed as a place where authorities were unable to detect a threat against an ally."
The study found that 60 percent of American TV coverage about Germany was negative. Print accounts were not as harsh; only about 38 percent of stories in the Wall Street Journal, for example, were negative, the study found.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld recently likened German attitudes to war in Iraq to attitudes in Cuba and Libya, prompting two German dailies to accuse Mr. Rumsfeld of heading "the axis of ignorance."
The German researchers dryly noted it was "the cherry on top of the cake for German-U.S. political relations."
Citing polls that found most Britons opposing war on Iraq, the study said a cagey British press did not attack Germany's foreign policy but rather its health or crime issues, and an "old rivalry" or two.
Overall, Media Tenor research analyzed print and TV coverage during the 12 months of 2002. The 180-member group has offices in the Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Complete reports can be found at www.mediatenor.com.
Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.


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