Ted Brokaw is an unbiased journalist

USA expert Ali Aslan: "Aggressive election rhetoric is the result of the dwindling culture of debate in the American media"

The German presenter and journalist Ali Aslan knows like no other how the heart of the American media beats. Aslan studied international politics at Georgetown University in Washington DC and journalism at the renowned Columbia Journalism School in New York. During his internship at CNN in Washington DC, he saw Larry King and Bernard Shaw over the shoulder, after which he worked in New York with legendary news presenter Peter Jennings on ABC News. Aslan hosted the English-language talk show "Quadriga" for Deutsche Welle TV from 2012 to 2014.

kress.de: Mr. Aslan, you recently went on a lengthy lecture tour of the United States. What were the most current topics?

Ali Aslan: In addition to the European refugee crisis, I was most often asked how Donald Trump is perceived in Germany and Europe. The East and West Coast intelligentsia is very well aware that Trump's success abroad is viewed with suspicion and sometimes with disbelief. But the USA is not just made up of New York and Los Angeles, it also has its own versions of Saxony-Anhalt.

Opinions instead of facts

How overheated is the US election campaign?

Ali Aslan: I have seen six presidential elections in my professional career so far. None was as polarizing as this one. The prevailing, very aggressive rhetoric of the current election campaign is also a result of the dwindling culture of debate in the American media. American news journalism is increasingly shaped less by facts and more by opinions. This seldom leads to a fruitful exchange of ideas and the tolerance for dissenting opinions is greatly reduced.

So does the American media have a huge impact on Donald Trump's success?

Ali Aslan: You have certainly contributed to it. Although he blatantly despises the press and seeks to facilitate defamation lawsuits against them, almost all of his speeches are broadcast live without interruption. This has higher ratings, but also an artificial inflation of Trump's result. Even Hillary Clinton does not receive this unrestricted attention and media coverage, let alone Ted Cruz or John Kasich. At most, the democratic outsider Bernie Sanders with his anti-establishment message can keep up with the media presence of a Trump. In the meantime, many of my US colleagues admit that Trump has not been critically questioned and underestimated for too long - probably also with a view to the quota and circulation.

Anyone who mob gets airtime

Trump in the USA, the AfD in Germany - both are fond of the media and are always present in them.

Ali Aslan: More than ever, we journalists have an important educational role to play on both sides of the Atlantic! Instead, it seems to be a kind of fashion in Germany to make fun of Trump and his "ignorant" supporters. But the election successes of the AfD make it clear that we have no reason to be arrogant. Rather, both phenomena show that a not insignificant number of people - regardless of their nationality - are receptive to simple, local answers to very complex, global questions.

You worked with Peter Jennings for a long time in the United States. What did you learn from the seasoned newsman?

Ali Aslan: Jennings was always sovereign and never lost calm, even in hectic moments. It was a privilege to work with him and as a moderator I still benefit from it today. Like Walter Cronkite, Edward Murrow or Tom Brokaw, he was much more than an anchorman, namely a moral authority who explained the world to Americans every evening. However, the fast news cycle and social media have made this species obsolete.

Mass instead of class

How has American news journalism changed?

Ali Aslan: In the USA, the range of news has become more diverse and confusing. Until the mid or even late 1990s, traditional US major news broadcasts and Sunday morning talk shows were still the primary sources of information and guides for many Americans. However, due to the growing diversity of channels and the Internet, they have increasingly lost their reach and relevance over the past two decades. In contrast, TV presenters such as John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Bill Maher, who humorously deal with day-to-day political affairs, have become significantly more relevant.

What can the German media learn from their US colleagues?

Ali Aslan: In terms of diversity in the media, we certainly still have some catching up to do compared to the USA. For example, all major German talk shows are moderated by journalists without a migration background. In 2016, given our social diversity, this is no longer appropriate and would be unthinkable in the USA, where diversity is much more important in front of the camera. The potential is undoubtedly there in Germany too - you have to use it!

The questions to the moderator Ali Aslan appointed kress.de editor-in-chief Bülend Ürük. Collaboration: Tania Witte.