In view of the twists and turns that the federal election campaign has taken and is taking, one cannot avoid noting the considerable power of interpretation of television.

Analysis and commentary in the press are one thing, but focusing on the candidate carousel is a television thing.

Three trials and countless individual appearances by Annalena Baerbock, Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz ensure that the other parties are pushed into the background.

There are only rudimentary programmatic arguments during the questionnaires on the screen.

It is not without significance according to which rules, with which sense and purpose the political program is pursued, for example the “Wahlarena” of the ARD or the program “Late Night Berlin” on Pro Sieben.

Schützenhilfe from the "Interventionist Left"

Michael Hanfeld

responsible editor for features online and "media".

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Armin Laschet was most recently a guest in the “Wahlarena” in the First.

He did not do badly in view of the various questions, including personal ones, that were put to him, and he was also prepared for brute attacks.

This was not a coincidence.

Three activists who went through talk show training from the agency “Hart aber Links” had their say, including a fifteen-year-old student who introduced herself as a supporter of “Fridays for Future”.

The agency "Hart aber Links" is led by Emily Laquer, who belongs to the "Interventionist Left". The organization is monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and classified as left-wing extremist. Emily Laquer was looking forward to the expected confrontation even before the show. The student she supervised announced on Twitter that “thanks to the training” she was “super prepared now” to “get Armin Laschet ready”.

Whether or not she succeeded in this may be in the eyes of the viewers, in the interests of ARD and the North German Broadcasting Corporation, which is responsible for the “election arena”, that is unlikely to be the case.

To "finish" candidates for chancellor or to have them finished off contradicts the mandate of the public service broadcaster, which is supposed to practice critical, impartial journalism, not biased activism, the aim of which is from the outset to get its message across.

Donations for the talk show training

On Twitter you can read how Emily Laquer cooks her soup. Critics of her behavior, which is based on a political business model that she also promotes (she asks for donations for the “next talk show training for activists”), are identified as “right-wing roles” or “Nazis”. The "left" Twitter bubble is delighted with it and measures itself against the "right" in rabble. That does not convey knowledge gain.

But how is ARD doing with the citizens who appear in the “election arena”? In response to our request, the responsible North German Broadcasting Corporation informed us very evasively that NDR and WDR had called on viewers in various programs to apply for the “ARD election arena” with questions. In addition, the opinion research institute infratest dimap suggested interested parties. The editorial team had extensive discussions with all applicants beforehand and researched their personal background. They were reported to the BKA, which had no objections. From the questions submitted, the editorial team selected "the broadest possible range of topics" that "reflect the most diverse political currents and the diversity of our society".Political engagement and party membership are not exclusion criteria as long as a political mandate does not exceed the level of a district chairmanship.