Controversy surrounding the expulsion of journalists in austria

Haider’s media populism: he wants to stand up for the dismissed journalist.

The dismissal of a political editor of a local austrian newspaper continues to cause a stir. The dismissal was "the first political victim of a shift to the right in austria", said the head of the austrian journalists’ union on friday. Fear of an attempt to bring the media into line ran through austrian newsrooms. The controversy then took a bizarre turn with jorg haider’s appearance on the n-tv program "talk in berlin". There he said that he wanted to campaign for the reinstatement of the expert journalist gerhard marschall.

The german public was able to see for itself in this broadcast, which has since come to be seen as the "peak of embarrassment" the german public was able to get a picture of haider as a manipulator of public opinion. For in the exchange of blows with freimut duve – one of the few on the program who at least tried to stand up to him – the next turn immediately followed. The condition for haider’s commitment, haider said, was that the sdp media expert and osce representative would in return support the addition of nationwide terrestrial private television in austria. No wonder haider considered the talk show a success. "He was able to say what he wanted to say, he rejoiced" today according to spiegel online.

In the meantime, the announcement of the editor gerhard marschall drew further circles in austria. Publisher rudolf a. Cuturi and editor-in-chief hans koppl denied today in a statement in the oberosterreichische nachrichten that the dismissal was politically motivated. "The reason for this lies rather in the style of editor marschall’s contributions, which repeatedly, and increasingly in recent months, lack the non-partisanship, distance and objectivity that we, as an independent medium, expect from our staff", they wrote. Marshall’s style has been the cause of subscription cancellations by readers, the editor was quoted as saying in other contexts.

But even that is probably not an objective reason for termination in austria’s provinces. For as the salzburger nachrichten reported today:

"The protest of a few hundred subscribers against a certain critical journalist could also be organized by auben. In salzburg, too, we have already experienced that the understanding of democracy of some liberal functionaries is exhausted by the call for a boycott of an inconvenient newspaper."

The f party, however, denied any influence in connection with the announcement of the editor. The result of another editorial meeting today at oberosterreichische nachrichten is not to make any further statements pending the reaction of the person concerned, der standard reported.

Nothing has yet become known about concrete steps taken by jorg haider to democratically support a journalist who is critical of him. He focused today on the announcement of the intention to sue ex-chancellor kilma for political treason for inciting eu politicians to boycott austria. The charm offensive in the german speaking countries is obviously ahead.

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