US ambassador demands censorship in Germany

The American ambassador in Germany wrote a letter (PDF) to the German magazine Der Spiegel and demanded that its journalists get approval from the US embassy before publishing:

Unfortunately, it is routine practice for Spiegel reporters to not even call us before writing.

The US officials obviously believe that before a German journalist expresses his or her opinion, they have to contact the US embassy and let it censor the materials.

It further requires an investigation of the magazine:

We ask that a thorough investigation be conducted by an outside, independent organization to determine exactly how Spiegel violated journalistic standards and how it can reform internal processes.

There are two statements in this text, which deserve attention. First, the US ambassador does not ask whether or not Der Spiegel violated journalistic standards. He asserts it as a fact. Since when is the US embassy authorized to judge the behavior of individual journalists or magazines?

Second, the ambassador says that some organization should tell Der Spiegel how exactly they have to reform their internal processes. In other words, how Der Spiegel can self-censor itself better. Wouldn’t that be a violation of freedom of press, one of the fundamental pillars of democracy?

But wait, there is more. At the end of the letter (PDF) we read:

The fundamental question is how such blatant anti-Americanism could be published without an editor questioning its accuracy and how much untold damage has been done by seven years of unchecked writing.

What struck me most was that the ambassador didn’t target a single publication or articles by a single journalist. What the ambassador is not content with, is the way Der Spiegel wrote about the US during the last seven years (2011–2018). He wants Der Spiegel to be more US-friendly, or else…

Also, he writes like anti-Americanism is a crime. You know what? If you are rational, you are bound to be anti-American. There are many reasons for a sane person to hate the US. One of them is that the US has always been destabilizing the world by meddling in other countries’ internal affairs (before and after the Cold War, so fighting against the fictitious Russian threat is not an excuse), hence making it more dangerous for all people.

Now the culture in the US has fallen so low that an official representative of the American state publicly requests a magazine in a foreign country (which is, by the way, an ally of the US) to either say what the American state wants or shut up. Can you be not anti-American as a result of this?

Sources