Coverage of financial crisis draws legal backlashPosted Feb 29 2012
A further sign tension surrounding the financial crisis is touching off raw nerves in the Eurozone, a Greek journalist was fined over $33,000 for calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel a “dirty Berlin slut,” according to GlobalPost.
Radio host Yiorgos Trangas used obscene and disparaging language in referring to Merkel twice in 2011 which resulted in the fine imposed this month by the Greek broadcasting authority, ESR.
Trangas has long been critical of German handling of the financial crisis affecting its European neighbors, “The Local reported”: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120223-40935.html. He further characterized Greeks as “the Jews of 2012,” a not oversubtle conflation of Merkel’s leadership with the authoritarian tyranny of Nazi Germany.
Trangas’ brand of vitriol is not only the voice of outlier opinion. Der Spiegel reports his message has been taken up by many in Greece who view “the EU as the ‘Fourth German Reich.’” Underscoring the point, Greek demonstrators protesting austerity measures have even donned Nazi uniforms.
But Trangas’ outbursts are only the latest in a series of salvos between Greek and German media. In 2011, ten journalists from the German magazine Focus were subject to a lawsuit stemming from a cover photo which showed the Venus de Milo, a famous Hellenistic sculpture¸ clad in a tattered Greek flag and extending a middle finger to the camera, Athens News reported. The photo was alleged to represent the German perception of Greek ingratitude after receiving bailout funds.
Despite no love lost between Athens and Berlin, a fresh batch of such bailouts was approved for Greece last week by EU Finance Ministers. The question now is whether Germany is prepared to underwrite further financial support as Greeks continue to spurn austerity in the streets. In such a climate, the hyperbolic exchanges between media in both nations threaten to make the task of bringing all sides back to negotiations that much more difficult.