ARD public television is Germany’s flagship news channel which broadcasts its “Tagesschau” news at the prime-time slot of 8 p.m. You can compare it to the BBC News (unfortunately its reputation is following the same path).
It’s no secret that the German media has über-hyped the news in Japan in order to über-dramatize the nuclear power plant accident. So dramatic was the response to the incident in Japan that Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the immediate shutdown of 7 of Germany’s older reactors in order to restore some semblance of calm among Germany’s freaked out population.
As an example of the media’s reckless reporting, Zettels Raum blog here brings our attention to 14 factual errors made in the ARD news last Thursday evening. Zettels Raum writes:
You will probably not want to believe what you are about to read, but it is the truth: In itsPrime-time newscast yesterday at 8 pm, the “Tageschau” reported 2:30 min on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. In these two and half minutes, there were 14 factual errors.”
The Zettels Raum author then lists all 14 errors and corrects them. As a whole, the entire ARD report was what Germans would call a media GAU (huge media meltdown). Of course all the errors, every one of them, served to exaggerate and over-dramatize the situation. I’ll now describe briefly each error.
Error 1: ARD claimed the military used water cannons and helicopters to cool the reactor, when in fact the water cannons were used by the police, and the military used helicopters of the fire department of a military base.
Error 2: ARD claimed that personnel risked their lives. Zettels Raum calls this claim “absurd”, saying that the guidelines for exposure to radiation by workers were fully adhered to.
Error 3:ARD claimed the radiation in the area had increased sharply, when in fact the radiation had dropped from 3. 8 mSv/h to 1.6 mSv/hr.
Error 4:ARD claimed that a video had been published in the Internet showing the destruction, when in fact the video was news footage from an NHK program.
Error 5: ARD claimed that the helicopter that made the video “flew over the reactor grounds,” when in fact it was 30 km away.
Error 6: ARD claimed that the army way trying to prevent a reactor meltdown, when in fact the risk of such had not been in existence for days. The real concern were for the used fuel rods that were outside of the reactor.
Error 7 and 8: ARD claimed attempts by helicopters and water cannons to cool the reactors were interrupted and so precious time was being lost in the fight against a nuclear catastrophe, when in fact the water cannons were replaced by the more powerful fire-fighting vehicles of the military, and the claim that “precious time was being lost” was freely fabricated by ARD.
Error 9: ARD claimed that there was a hydrogen explosion at the building, in Block 3 an explosion in the building, when in fact the explosions did not occur once “at” and once “in” the building, but with both blocks in the reactor building.
Error 10:ARD claimed that the fuel rods had been exposed at times and that there was an explosion in Block 2 that may have damaged the reactor core and that after a fire the fuel rods were exposed and could not be cooled. But in fact, Zettels Raum blog writes:
A connection between the fire (likely burning lubrication oil) and exposed fuel elements is not known up to now. The elements are no longer suffciently covered by water because the pumps didn’t function, and the water in all cooling ponds – whether there was a fire or not – had evaporated.”
Error 11:And so, ARD claimed that the exposed fuel rods would eventually heat up to the point they would melt, penetrate the concerte reactor encasing and eventually reach the earth and then radioactively contaminate the groundwater. Zettels Raum calls this claim: “one of the most absurd errors in this “Tagesschau” report, saying reactors 1-3 had long since ben cooled and that reactor 4 had not been in operation and thus no heating to lead to such a scenario.
Error 12: ARD claimed that experts were working feverishly to lay an emergency power supply line to the power plant in order to switch on the cooling system, when in fact it wasn’t an emergency power supply, but a line to the ordinary ordinary high voltage power grid.
Error 13: ARD claimed that line would be finished earliest on Friday, and that it was unknown whether or not the cooling unit would even switch on. At this point German viewers were probably biting their fingers off. But the fact was that it was already Friday in Japan – 4 a.m. – when the ARD report was being aired. So there was no way for the line to be finished on Thursday or earlier.
Error 14: How the ARD knew that it is”unknown” whether it would function is their “secret”. Of course pumps can be repaired and put back into operation. But you need power to do this.
Zettels Raum concludes as follows:
Is that only a mess, sloppiness or pure ignorance? Or is it political agitation? What is obvious, in any case, is that all the errors were made without exception in a way that exaggerated the actual damage and actual danger. If this were simply sloppiness, one would then expect some errors to be made in the other direction too.”
Also read here (German): Super Meltdown In Media and Politics. Vera Langenfeld on the consequences of the hyper-hysteria spread by media and reckless politicians:
“In this regard, the super meltdown has occurred in Germany, and we are about to experience its impacts soon.”