Vienna, September 17, 2022
by Edward Steen, S-G
Legendary German tv journalist Fritz Pleitgen, “Mr WDR,” was for decades one of the most familiar and trusted correspondents in Germany, as correspondent in Moscow, East Berlin,
and Washington, and finally boss (Intendant) of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. The death at 84 of a man whose work as a reporter began with a cheeky application letter, aetat 14, to the local paper and his good-natured humour and intelligence were remembered by his colleagues in a WDR obituary (DE) last night. His son Frederik is a Berlin-based CNN journalist who covered the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.
- Is it just me? My old student colleague at Cambridge, Prince Charles, now Charles III, seems to lack manners – see this truculent nonsense in Northern Ireland – or elementary common sense. His failure thus far, as a greenie, to do anything sensible over many years about
sensible heating for the worst-insulated public building in the UK, his new home, is one thing. But what was in his mind when, during the Edinburgh church service in his mother’s memory, he thought it the right moment to fire 100 employees at Clarence House, round the corner, where he has lived for nearly 20 years?
- But it has to be said the PR efforts reflected in the oceans of hours and hours of hagiography beamed, on the back of the Queen`s death, over the whole planet about the new king’s good sense, green credentials etc, and the good fun, and plain goodness which world-wide audiences are invited to discern in the new, 75-year-old, Queen Consort Camilla, are remarkable for their ingenuity given the material the PR people had at their disposal.
Both Charles III and the former Mrs Parker-Bowles were until recently unpopular figures, though not as much as Prince Andrew, who could prove a real challenge soon. But for now, during this apparently endless, faintly mad, period of royal mania the new monarch and his spouse have been successfully sold to the public as suitable new bosses of The Firm, as its members call it. They may be wise to hang on to the clever new-ish spin-doctors, whatever they cost, to make sure things stay that way.
- The only level-headed account of Queen Elizabeth’s stoic 70 years on the throne that I have been able to find is in the liberal Israeli paper Haaretz. It concludes: “Elizabeth’s public persona
has always been such a pliable void that, since her death, anyone and everyone can fill with whatever they want. And fill it they have…“
- A final note on this bizarre story: how many old colleagues (some rather old, few very honourable) resurface to earn another few thousands from a story which has been an out-of-control reality tv series ever since the Queen ill-advisedly allowed the tv cameras in to make a 1969 film (quickly withdrawn and now unfindable) about the “ordinary” daily lives of the royal family. Walter Bagehot, the 19th century English essayist, remarked: “The monarchy’s mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.” But the Windsors were never great readers and may have missed that shrewd observation.
- In the News, 09/09/222 Lock him Up? US media discussion of how different countries handle the problem of criminal leaders like Silvio Berlusconi
- Is the real problem in US media a dearth of talent? asks AEJ member Llewellyn King