WDR director Tom Buhrow defended his approach in the controversy over the "environmental pig" song before the WDR broadcasting council. The massive criticism of the song cannot be explained by a right-wing campaign alone, said Buhrow at a meeting of the supervisory body in Cologne.
"I can assure you here that the disturbance came from the middle of society via the video," the WDR director defended his actions in the controversy. The WDR regular audience protested. He had to react quickly and clearly and therefore apologized. He still stands by that. "Something went wrong with the audience, and we admitted it," said Buhrow, announcing that the WDR would develop a social media strategy for future crises.
A broad spectrum of opinions emerged in the subsequent debate by the Broadcasting Council. Some members criticized the decision to delete the "environmental pig" video. But there was a lot of agreement with Buhrow's apology.
"Of course we stand by our director," said the chairman of the broadcasting council, Andreas Meyer-Lauber. He rejected fundamental criticism of public service broadcasting. "The broadcasting council takes care of the supervision of the WDR (...), but it does not make itself a place of unloading for extreme right-wing Gesäusel," clarified Meyer-Lauber.
2,700 protest emails to the broadcasting council
The supervisory board had received 2,700 emails for the "environmental sow" song, more than ever before. A large part of it was campaign-driven, said Meyer-Lauber. 250 emails would have had the same wording.
The song of the WDR children's choir on the melody of "My grandma rides a motorcycle in the chicken coop" had denounced the older generation's lack of environmental awareness. It triggered a broad debate in December 2019, including Prime Minister Armin Laschet criticizing the WDR. The video was deleted by the WDR. Buhrow apologized in a special program "without ifs and buts". Buhrow, who has also been ARD chairman since the beginning of the year, has been accused of playing into the hands of right-wing activists who largely created the outrage wave on the Internet artificially.
The WDR Broadcasting Council is the broadest supervisory body for the broadcaster. It is said to be a reflection of North Rhine-Westphalian society. The 60 members include, for example, representatives of the parliamentary groups, the churches and trade unions.