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

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

Post by Deku Tree » Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:24 pm

Good luck, Germany.
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”.

The controversy highlights a deepening divide between backers of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal stance toward refugees and a rightwing movement that opposes immigration, fears Islam and distrusts the government and media.

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.

Stray fireworks did start a small blaze, but only on netting covering scaffolding on the church and it was put out after about 12 minutes, the paper reported. The roof was not on fire and the church is not Germany’s oldest.

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”.

It said the article “may be a foretaste” of what is to come before parliamentary elections expected in September as some websites spread “misinformation and distortion in order to diminish trust in established institutions”.

Justice minister Heiko Maas warned in mid-December that Germany would use its laws against deliberate disinformation and that freedom of expression did not protect “slander and defamation”.

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”.

Breitbart has declined to comment.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/ ... are_btn_tw

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Post by Valigarmander » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:12 pm

Well now, who are you going to believe? Some pinko Germans or good ol' Breitbart?

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Post by St. Tazy Ten » Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:14 pm

F**k biased as hell news sites. Breitbart is one of the worst. They're so vindictive and think that because they're right-wing they can get away with the s**t they pull.

Get your lies out of my face!

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:33 am

Sounds like a coverup. They want to push the image of Islam being a religion of peace which isn't going to work as long as people have the Internet.

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Post by PataPanfan » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:49 am

**** breitbart
and that's the waaaaaaaaaay the news goes

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Post by X-3 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:54 am

^^ lmao zedong

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Post by е и ժ е я » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:41 am

[QUOTE="I REALLY HATE PRESENTS!, post: 1618103, member: 18119"]Sounds like a coverup. They want to push the image of Islam being a religion of peace which isn't going to work as long as people have the Internet.[/QUOTE]
I was just thinking that of course their ideal audience will just say it's a conspiracy or something. The internet has destroyed the credibility of news sources in general, and people have visibly begun to favor confirmation bias even when they know what confirmation bias is. The only thing it would take to prove the Breitbart story's truth is any shred of actual evidence. They claimed a famous church was badly burned, and also claimed that it's the oldest when it is not.
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Post by Shane » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:36 am

I assume any publication complaining about fake news is itself guilty of spreading fake news.
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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:43 am

My Potions Are Too Strong For You Traveller, post: 1618115, member: 25415 wrote:I was just thinking that of course their ideal audience will just say it's a conspiracy or something. The internet has destroyed the credibility of news sources in general, and people have visibly begun to favor confirmation bias even when they know what confirmation bias is. The only thing it would take to prove the Breitbart story's truth is any shred of actual evidence. They claimed a famous church was badly burned, and also claimed that it's the oldest when it is not.
There was a relatively recently incident of a big news site criticizing the fake news going around and then themselves caught shoveling out a fake story (too lazy to cite specifics). It's hard to trust anything you hear regardless of source, imo. I often use news as a suggestion to investigate something which may be, or see it as a piece of a possible truth instead of an actual enlightenment of events. It's not like I can prove the truth anyway, so I generally default to a middleground assumption, especially when something like this happens. As such, I don't believe either side in this particular instance. Both sides could be pushing an agenda so I just figure there was an incident of significance but it wasn't the hellscape Breitbart painted and certainly not a bunch of Muslims sitting in a circle holding hands singing of peace either. I conclude that there were a number of troublemakers who made a scene and tried to cause more trouble than they actually did.

I also think this criticism of the article is a bit misleading, too. So they got their "which church is the oldest somewhere" facts wrong, not really more than an edit and a note with an apology. I have doubts the rest is incorrect. I assume that to be the case without having read anything outside of this topic. I just now (as of writing this sentence) read Breitbart's take and here's what they have to say:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/01 ... ire-story/
The headlines — which lean on the establishment media’s new “fake news” trope — fail to reflect that reporting from some of the very same outlets now blasting Breitbart News confirmed almost every substantive fact about the Breitbart London report on the issue: there were 1,000, mostly male, mostly non-native German people gathered in the Leeds Square; there were repeated chants of “Allahu Akbar”; the ‘Free Syrian Army’ flag was flown; and there was a fire at the St. Reinold’s Church caused by the fireworks. The only correction Breitbart London is happy to make is the age of the church, which does not constitute a substantive error in our reporting.
I assumed this to be the case, and I'm usually right with my assumptions. I still don't believe either side completely but this comes off as sounding true to me.

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Post by I am nobody » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:58 pm

Even assuming all of that is correct, it's still wildly different from what they said. Surely we can agree that "Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve" paints a very different image than "Revealed: 1,000 mostly non-native German men were in a square together, at least some shoot fireworks and cause a fire at St. Reinold's Church." It's also worth noting that, as you can imagine, "God is greatest" is not exclusively used by jihadists, and the term "Free Syrian Army" is currently claimed by many groups, some of whom have western backing and are very definitely not IS collaborator. They also conveniently fail to mention their claim that the al-Qaeda flag was flown, which was among their most serious accusations.

So no, even granting that their second version of events is exactly what happened, I don't agree that "almost every substantive fact" was confirmed.

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:01 pm

[QUOTE="I am nobody, post: 1618153, member: 34539"]Even assuming all of that is correct, it's still wildly different from what they said. Surely we can agree that "Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve" paints a very different image than "Revealed: 1,000 mostly non-native German men were in a square together, at least some shoot fireworks and cause a fire at St. Reinold's Church." It's also worth noting that, as you can imagine, "God is greatest" is not exclusively used by jihadists, and the term "Free Syrian Army" is currently claimed by many groups, some of whom have western backing and are very definitely not IS collaborator. They also conveniently fail to mention their claim that the al-Qaeda flag was flown, which was among their most serious accusations.

So no, even granting that their second version of events is exactly what happened, I don't agree that "almost every substantive fact" was confirmed.[/QUOTE]

At best your argument is that they were misleading, it isn't "fake news" if we're assuming all of that was correct. So I agree, they did paint a different picture, just not a "very" different one. Saying "10,000 Islamic terrorists kill entire police force, burn city to ground" is fake news. Point is it wasn't peaceful, you can tell from the video alone that it was an unruly group. This story is a battleground of agendas, somewhere in there is the truth, if you're willing to see it.

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Post by I am nobody » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:15 pm

Their version does not defend the claim of police being attacked nor that the al-Qaeda flag was flown, nor does it address the implications that the church was deliberately set on fire and that all of these were collective actions by a mob of 1,000. Two major objective falsehoods in the article and two extremely misleading statements in the headline qualifies as either unacceptably terrible reporting or deliberately fake news in my book.

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:44 pm

I am nobody, post: 1618159, member: 34539 wrote:Their version does not defend the claim of police being attacked nor that the al-Qaeda flag was flown, nor does it address the implications that the church was deliberately set on fire and that all of these were collective actions by a mob of 1,000. Two major objective falsehoods in the article and two extremely misleading statements in the headline qualifies as either unacceptably terrible reporting or deliberately fake news in my book.
According to them this other news source they are at odds with seems to have reported the following:
Mr. Bandermann’s report states there were “Pyrotechnics thrown into crowds and at policemen”, describing scenes where fireworks were aimed at homeless people. According to RN, people were “seriously injured” and police described the culprits as “with and without migrant backgrounds”.
So unless both are lying despite their differences there should be little doubt about the police being targeted.

They claim the flag was in a video posted by this "RN":
A video uploaded to the RN live blog of the night clearly shows a large mob of people recklessly releasing fireworks at buildings and each other. The video cuts to a group of men chanting “Syria” while dancing with the flag flown by the Free Syrian Army — a group noted even by the Washington Post to have had extreme levels of desertion to the Islamic State.
Again, if true then the flag part is covered as well.

The church fire was essentially deliberate if not by intent then by recklessness illegal activity, nitpicking basically. Also obviously not every single individual of a 1,000 person group will each take equal part in something. When you hear of a mob knocking over cars do you think the entire mob down to each individual has flipped a single car each? Let's not argue semantics.

As far as I am concerned there is an absolute difference between "misleading" and "false," but neither are acceptable. It's just that in principle there doesn't seem to be anything blatantly false here, "just" misrepresented facts. As Breitbart points out there doesn't seem to be anyone in a rush to mention the homeless man attacked and seriously injured. They're fast to correct Breitbart on their German church history though...

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Post by Random User » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:50 pm

Brietbart is pure clickbait for ad revenue. They may stretch the truth or outright lie, but it doesn't really matter so long as you looked at the article.

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Post by е и ժ е я » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:38 am

I'm glad Ihop can see the merits of dismissing flagrant dishonesty and misrepresentation in the name of good faith.
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Post by Sim Kid » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:07 am

[QUOTE="I REALLY HATE PRESENTS!, post: 1618103, member: 18119"]Sounds like a coverup. They want to push the image of Islam being a religion of peace which isn't going to work as long as people have the Internet.[/QUOTE]

If that's the case... it's failing spectacularly given how the non-web media seems to fixate on whether or not a criminal was a muslim.

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Post by I am nobody » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:51 pm

I REALLY HATE PRESENTS!, post: 1618169, member: 18119 wrote: The church fire was essentially deliberate if not by intent then by recklessness illegal activity, nitpicking basically. Also obviously not every single individual of a 1,000 person group will each take equal part in something. When you hear of a mob knocking over cars do you think the entire mob down to each individual has flipped a single car each? Let's not argue semantics.
It matters in this case, though, because the image of 1,000 people attacking police and burning a church is very different from some individuals within a crowd of 1,000 shooting fireworks at a church and starting a minor church fire. Their headline (presumably deliberately) allows the interpretation that a mob of 1,000 overwhelmed police and had the explicit goal of burning a church. The reality is an incident of a crowd getting out of hand, but far from the riot they're presenting. Semantics matter, especially on the internet when many people stop after the headline.
Again, if true then the flag part is covered as well.
I said the al-Qaeda flag claim was undefended, not the FSA flag. Still haven't seen any attempt to address that claim.

The FSA the Washington Post is referencing collapsed several years ago, and IS indeed claimed to have received many defectors. But like I said in my first post, "Free Syrian Army" and its symbols are now claimed by many resistance groups in Syria, and some of them are backed or even founded by the west. They could be IS sympathizers, but it's about as logical to assume they are as it would be to assume someone flying the Kentucky flag in the Civil War was a secret Confederate just because many of their fellow statesmen defected. "**** Assad" is at least as likely to be the intended message.
As far as I am concerned there is an absolute difference between "misleading" and "false," but neither are acceptable. It's just that in principle there doesn't seem to be anything blatantly false here, "just" misrepresented facts. As Breitbart points out there doesn't seem to be anyone in a rush to mention the homeless man attacked and seriously injured. They're fast to correct Breitbart on their German church history though...
I'll agree with that on a technical level, but like you say, neither are acceptable, so practically they should be condemned either way.

(although I would say that the al-Qaeda flag claim is blatantly false)

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Post by Deku Tree » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:47 pm

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/20 ... ns/134603/

Putin is working similar hacking and propaganda campaigns to influence German and French elections for their versions of Trump. Bannon's new European versions of Breitbart are pitching in. Not looking forward to the resources of the US government joining the fight against Western Democracy.

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Post by Deku Tree » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:15 pm


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Post by Shane » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:43 pm

Are the Germans and French also concerned about people hearing the truth? Sadly, I imagine that to be so for any government, regardless of political affiliation, so perhaps that is a rhetorical question.
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