Reuters Fake Factcheck

By Paul Homewood

 

 Reference was made in yesterday’s post on Naomi Seibt to a so-called Factcheck by Reuters, which supposedly debunks her side of the story.

Not only is the Reuters’ whitewash inaccurate, it poses more questions about their own reliability than the original story:

 image

A widely shared post on social media makes the claim that 19-year-old German climate change skeptic Naomi Seibt has been fined and banned from social media for expressing disagreement with climate activist Greta Thunberg, known for organizing youth climate strikes ‘Fridays for Future’. This claim contains some inaccurate information. 

 

The post makes the claim that while Thunberg has been praised by the media, Seibt is now “banned from YouTube, Facebook and many other social media platforms”, as well as “fined the equivalent of $400 by authorities in her region of Germany for the crime of being ‘not climate friendly’.” ( here

Seibt — an influencer and YouTube personality — has garnered controversy for denouncing what she has called “climate alarmism”, and for calling climate consciousness “a despicably anti-human ideology” ( here ).  

Her public image has prompted comparisons with Thunberg, covered widely by the press for her vocal climate activism. Seibt has adopted some of Thunberg’s communication for her own purposes, such as the cry popularly associated with Thunberg’s address before the UN Climate Action summit last year: “How dare you?” ( here

In February 2020, Seibt joined the Heartland Institute—a right-wing American think-tank—to work on “communicating the climate realism message to her generation – which has marinated in apocalyptic nonsense their whole lives – for audiences in Europe and the United States,” according to a press release ( here ). 

Heartland, according to the Washington Post, is concerned that Berlin’s environmental policies could begin to spread overseas ( here ). James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy, told the Post that Seibt was a “fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism.” 

In late February, some outlets reported that Seibt “has previously described a white nationalist who appeared to promote ‘white genocide’ theories as one of her ‘inspirations’” ( here  ;  here ). Seibt has also spoken at events run by Germany’s far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, although she has denied formally being in the party, according to the Independent ( here ). 

As of May 21, 2020, Seibt’s YouTube ( here ) Facebook ( here ) and Twitter ( twitter.com/SeibtNaomi ) profiles, however, are all active. The claim that social media platforms have deleted her accounts for the views she has expressed is untrue.  

In April, Seibt posted a video on YouTube where she explained, in German, that she had chosen not to renew her three-month contract with the Heartland Institute. She claimed that her affiliation to Heartland resulted in the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW (Nordrhein-Westfalen) — a regional supervisory authority for private broadcasting — threatening to delete her YouTube account and her videos, alleging that through her collaboration with the American think-tank, she was spreading U.S. conspiracy theories in Germany ( here ). Seibt claimed that the allegation was not true, and that it violated her freedom of expression. 

A fundraising page for Seibt found on Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) – an independent foundation that operates in the fields of climate change and policy – puts the situation in different terms. It claims that according to the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW, Seibt had advocated against Germany’s climate policies while also discussing her ties to Heartland ( here ). The page later claims that the authorities “demanded a fine of about $400 and costs on top, and instructed Naomi that she must not mention the Heartland Institute in her videos. The insubstantial ground for this attempt at silencing Naomi was that such mentions constituted unlawful product placement under a recently-enacted law of the North-Rhine Westphalia region.” 

The Landesanstalt für Medien NRW confirmed to Reuters via email that it did not issue a fine to Seibt: 

“Ms. Seibt was requested to delete two YouTube videos because they violate German law. The basis of our decision is the prohibition of third party influence on the editorial content in audiovisual media according to articles 7 para. 7 sentence 1 in connection with 58 para. 3 sentence 1 of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag-RStV). 

“Ms. Seibt was heard on the facts of the case. Her statement was not able to invalidate the accusation of illegal thematic placement (in German „Themenplatzierung”). Unlike in America, in Germany it is prohibited by law to provide media content, if a third party has exerted influence on it and if the cooperation is based on a compensation. Unlike in America, in Germany Freedom of speech is not touched by this ban.” 

Seibt did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment at the time of publishing this check.

VERDICT

False. Naomi Seibt was not banned from social media platforms. Regional German telecommunication regulators did not fine Seibt, but requested she delete two YouTube videos for violating German law.  

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-seibt-fined-banned-social-m/fact-checkclimate-changeskepticnaomi-seibtwas-notfined-banned-from-social-media-for-her-views-idUSKBN2322PD

 

Let’s go straight to the actual “claim” which Reuters has claimed to factcheck:

19-year-old German climate change skeptic Naomi Seibt has been fined and banned from social media for expressing disagreement with climate activist Greta Thunberg,

This claim appears nowhere at all in either of Monckton’s articles, nor have I seen it made in any other publication or blog post. What he did write was that she has been ordered to withdraw three videos, and that she would be fined or imprisoned if she refused.

Reuters link to this supposed claim takes us to a Facebook post by somebody called Roger Roots, and it is clear that it has not been widely shared, as Reuters falsely claim – indeed most of the sharers have highlighted Facebook’s False Information warning, in order to discredit it.

In other words, this whole factcheck is based on a strawman, claiming to debunk a claim that has not been widely disseminated.

Which brings us to the question of why Reuters have gone to such lengths to counter it. Who tipped them off? And why are they so keen to stamp out any sign of climate scepticism?

 

The “factcheck” then goes on to mention things that are neither accurate or relevant. All in any event worthless, because the central claim is fake.

There are, for instance, several references to right wing – as, for example, the Heartland Institute, a right-wing American think tank. But what the hell does the political persuasion of Heartland, Naomi or anybody else have to do with the accuracy of their statements. Are we only allowed to voice opinions if we are left wing?

Reuters go on to complain that Naomi has spoken at events run by also spoken at events run by Germany’s far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, although she has denied formally being in the party. Reuters may not like them, but the AfD happens to be Germany’s official opposition party. Again, why should Naomi be censored if she chooses to speak at one of their events?

Then Reuters refer to her praising a white nationalist who appeared to promote ‘white genocide’ (links to the ever reliable Guardian and Huff Post!!). This is a reference to Canadian podcaster Stefan Molyneux, whose recent guests include respectable commentators such as Jordan Peterson and Michelle Malkin. Reuters’ smears about him derive from the hard left Southern Poverty Law Center, which have never been substantiated. (Maybe Reuters should be doing factchecks on libellous comments such as those!).

Reuters in fact do not disagree with any of the fundamental aspects of the case. Namely that the German State Agency, NRW, have ordered Naomi to take down the videos, or be fined or imprisoned if she refuses.

Instead they merely repeat the NRW’s version of events, hardly a “factcheck”. As Monckton’s article detailed, many of the NRW’s claims do not hold water. For instance, her association with Heartland is not in itself grounds for action, according to the actual law. (Fuller explanation from Monckton here.)

And NRW’s claims that Naomi was heard on the facts of the case is an outright lie. As Monckton explains, she asked for more time to respond due to serious illness, but this plea was ignored.

Finally Reuters claim that Naomi did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. But she does not have the well organised army of PR staff that Greta does, so can hardly be expected to. That does not excuse Reuters from writing a blatant, one-sided hit piece.

The bottom line is that Reuters’ so-called factcheck is nothing of the sort. It creates a fake strawman to strike down, and then goes on to smear Naomi and whitewash the NRW.

So I ask once again, who put Reuters up to this? They would never in a million years bother with an obscure Facebook post, with only 86 comments.

The actual intricacies of the law are immaterial here. If the NRW succeed in censoring Naomi, enforced by threats of fines and imprisonment, then that is a sad day for freedom of speech and the rights of the individual in Germany.

 

Instead of trying to cover this scandal up, why is not Reuters asking the real questions that need to be asked:

 

  • Why is an official German State Agency persecuting a 19-yr old?
  • Who set them up to do this? Clearly the NRW would not have even been aware of the videos in the normal course of events.
  • Why is the NRW so keen to ban opinions that are not “climate friendly”?
  • What does this whole debacle say about free speech in Germany today?

And if Reuters want to do a proper factcheck, maybe they should turn their attention to Greta, who not only is closely associated with a number of extreme left wing groups, but also regularly spouts hysterically false poppycock.

via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

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May 28, 2020 at 12:15PM

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