My daily reflections on this website have often – maybe too often – something to do with the writings in Dagens Nyheter. The reason is nevertheless quite natural since DN is the leading newspaper in Sweden and thus sets the agenda for a large part of the discussion. I should add that there is an overwhelming majority of center-right, what we call “borgerliga” (bourgeoisie) papers and that the Social Democrats control a shrinking number of newspapers with minute circulations and based mostly in smaller cities around the country.
In spite of the center-right dominance, media is often accused of harboring too many leftist (liberal, in US terms) journalists, which is a gross exaggeration, probably used mostly as an attempt to defend a disproportionate reality. Anyhow, since we have a tendency to point at the top, Dagens Nyheter has got the role of leading the herd.
We noticed in yesterdays DN a stunning blindness for the mass deaths and for the suffering people in Japan, in favor of an unmotivated fixation on the operational problems in a nuclear plant. Today the editor in chief seems to have sobered up, and the real and horrendous catastrophe in Japan was reasonably reported on. Only two pages were spent on the nuclear issue, mostly reporting that the problems are probably no problems… but on the other hand it’s leaking here and there, and you never know… etcetera.
Misconceptions, myths, sensationalism, and ignorance about facts are inherited from the last nuclear incident in a way so consistent that it must be considered intentional. If I should be wrong here, there is a heavy burden of proof for those who refutes that claim.
The sad but most important news today is of course the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We can just embrace the suffering people in our thoughts and hope for the best. And also wish that help with the rescue work will come from all parts of the world.
The domestic news were somewhat overshadowed today, but Dagens Nyheter continued their sour remarks about the candidate for leader of the opposition party. The front page was headed by:
“Juholt keeps silent about the choice of direction for S”
(S is short for Social Democrats), followed by: “Exactly what the coming party leader Håkan Juholt thinks about the future of the Social Democrats in shrouded in mystery”.
Everyone knows that a candidate cannot speak for the whole party, or reveal any of his plans as a party leader, until he is really elected (every party member has de facto the right to challenge him for the job at the convention). For those who happens to be ignorant of that elementary circumstance it is repeated by the candidate every time he is asked those questions. So DN’s purpose is of course not to inform but to cast a shadow of suspicion and conspiracy around Juholt in the most childish way.
The candidate is chosen by a democratic process within the party, and the choice reflects the will of a majority of party representatives. Those are the ones who should be asked what expectations they had when they chose Juholt. But they are history for the journalists and reporters. Now it’s Juholt who is the fair game. Ahhh, politics!!
In these days Sweden is of course most famous – or infamous – for the Assange affair. Our mainstream media – of which Dagens Nyheter (the New York Times of Sweden) is No. 1 – doesn’t really know on which foot to stand. Here we have freedom of expression at stake, but also a legislation on sexual behavior which is sacred for our feminists and last but not least the important relations with the United States. Consequently there is little of this and little of that on the matter, but above all a lot of silence.
There is an interesting thought experiment to make as a litmus test on the editorial staff at Dagens Nyheter (DN). We might just suppose that Assange had revealed, not US but Russian secrets of equivalent importance, and that prominent politicians and media people in Russia had screamed for him to be immediately executed. Furthermore that Russian authorities had carefully prepared a special court for Assange in a reliable district near Moscow and expected Sweden or some other country to deliver him on a silver plate.
In such a case there are no doubts whatsoever about which reactions to expect from DN. It would sound approximately like this: “Putin and his associates show there utter contempt for human rights when they seek to severely punish a man who just practices his elementary rights of free expression. This is what you can expect from these stone age-thinking post communists (of course in nicer wordings) and we must do our utmost to protect Assange from all evil. An extradition is out of question!” Regarding the case of possible rape we certainly could have expected the decision made by the first female prosecutor to stand, namely to drop the case (in the improbable event that the police officers had even bothered to forward the questions from the two girls in the first place).
That’s politics, same style here as everywhere. It’s just cute to watch people with unquestionably functioning brains act like trained dogs when it comes to these issues. It should be said that Swedish politics has been drifting slowly from the old social democrat ideals in a rightward direction since at least 20 years. And the newspapers have drifted along. But still our most conservative politicians wouldn’t feel uncomfortable among many of the liberals in the US. So there is always a perspective to take into account.
I believe there will be reasons to comment on this affair in the light of future events.