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Covidistan Annals (reprise): Further Proof of Undue Collaboration Between Gov't and Legacy Media
A journalist lost her job in fall 2021 due to 'store vaxx policies', now she's asking for a 'reckoning' with this past
Dear readers, many of the ‘old-timers’ here may remember the series ‘Covidistan Annals’, the 'ancestor’ of the current ‘Covid in Austria’ series; some of my more recent subscribers may have missed it. If you fall into the former category, you might with to skip the next two paragraphs.
I grew up in Vienna, Austria, but I’ve lived abroad since 2010, first in Switzerland and now in Norway, interspersed by a half-year stay in the U.S. (as a visiting prof. at Columbia). I coined the moniker ‘Covidistan’ to refer to my country-of-origin that was changing markedly before my eyes in autumn 2021: Austria was the first (seemingly Western) country that pushed for a Covid ‘vaccine mandate’ in those darkening days of November of that year until its promulgation in early February 2022. While everyone expected this to be a ‘winner’, due to ‘Omicron’ the ‘forced injections’ have, by now, become a proverbial millstone around politicians’ necks. Many in legacy media, which is handsomely ‘compensated for their services-for-sale’—an almost ‘Trumpian’ euphemism, if there ever was one—parroted the government line, a disgraceful stance that continues to this day.
These pages here began their life as a (partial) form of ‘auto-therapy’ with a twofold mission: as an attempt to make sense of what was happening before our eyes—and to keep (some of) the receipts in the hope of ‘better days’ returning eventually. While I believe that we’re not ‘there’, far from it, things have improved somewhat; yet, there is much, much more that remains to be done.
For background and context, you are referred to the three-part series ‘The Covid Coup’, written in late November 2021: part 1; part 2; part 3. Further particulars may be obtained by searching through the history of these pages using the term ‘Covidistan Annals’. Sigh.
What follows is a kind of ‘return’ to these darkening days in November and December 2021, right around the time the Austro-Covidian gov’t—which in my postings back then I referred to as the ‘Committee of Public Safety—told the people about the injection mandate. It triggered sustained mass protests, which led the régime to never enforce that ‘law’ (which was a piece of enabling legislation anyways) and abandon it altogether in June and July 2022.
The below is a rare story of moral courage—for another example from autumn 2021, see here—of a journalist who, after 25 years of employment with state broadcaster ORF, elected to forego the then-’only’ company-internal vaxx mandate and lost her job. Here’s hoping we’ll all learn something from this episode.
As wlways, translations and emphases are mine, as are the bottom lines.
Fall 2021: Sabine Spögler-Dinse Loses her Job…
…because she refused to submit to the company-internal ‘vaccination mandate’.
This is a brief trip down memory lane—in early October 2021, there was a brief tempest in Austro-Covidian’s media teapot when, among others, tabloid outlet Heute reported the following:
Sabine Spögler-Dinse worked for ORF's ‘Seitenblicke’ [it’s the socialite ‘venue’] for 25 years. Now she has announced her involuntary termination via Instagram.
Editor Spögler-Dinse shows her dismay in her last Instagram post. In it, the ‘Seitenblicke’ employee announces that she will probably no longer work for her employer. ‘This was, it looks like, my last ‘Seitenblicke’. Because of 2G [the ‘rule’ that mandated either ‘vaccination’ or ‘recovery’]. After 25 years, it makes you a little sad, on the one hand. And on the other hand, I am concerned about the direction we are moving in here, that is, when healthy people are no longer allowed to work’, she announces that she is neither vaccinated nor recovered.
Fall-out: Ms. Spögler-Dinse Tells ‘More’
Expectedly, the entire matter was quickly glossed over, with perhaps the minor exception of the ‘alternative’ media outlet eXXpress, which is quite close to the ruling ÖVP (talk about irony there for a moment…). Here’s what they reported on 23 Nov. 2021:
In the ‘10 Before 8’ talk with eXXpress editor-in-chief Richard Schmitt, the mother of three talks about the planned compulsory vaccination and the growing polarisation in our society.
‘Parents don't want vaccinated children to sit next to unvaccinated children at school.’
‘At the moment, more and more oil is being poured on the fire’, complains the former Seitenblicke editor, for example, with regard to schools: ‘I notice with my children in particular that a lot is carried [by parents!!!] into the school classes. Parents don't want their vaccinated child to sit next to an unvaccinated one.’ [puke] ‘That is an enormous burden’, she said, adding that, ‘we have to get away from the narrative that unvaccinated people are to blame for everything.’
So far, Spögler-Dinse sees no reason to get vaccinated. When asked about the upcoming compulsory vaccination, she quotes a British saying: ‘We cross that bridge, when we get there.’ The journalist often talks to doctors. ‘There, many doubt that this is feasible. Liability is a problem.’ Compulsory vaccination could make doctors liable. She herself would never tell someone to ‘get vaccinated’, or ‘don't get vaccinated’. Everyone has to decide that with their family doctor, she said. ‘It depends, for example, on the respective pre-existing conditions.’
She finds many flaws in Austria’s Corona management: ‘We haven’t even determined yet who belongs to a risk group.’ [mind you, we’re almost 2 years into the ‘pandemic’ when she stated this] In China, someone who tests positive receives a drug cocktail with lots of vitamin D to prevent severe disease. ‘Over here, you are left alone at home from the beginning.’
In that above-linked piece by eXXpress, there is also a German-language interview, if you’re so inclined.
Spring 2023: Spögler-Dinse Calls Out Media Bias
These days, Ms. Spögler-Dinse is back in (certain) mouths, mainly due to a recent Facebook posting:
As a consequence of severe media bias—which, given ORF’s charter as a public broadcasting corporation, is also quite likely illegal to boot—called out those responsible:
More than 200 euros household tax. Compelled by law. Does the price at least include the ORF’s overdue reckoning with its pandemic performance or do we have to pay extra for it, [CEO] Roland Weissmann? Seriously, Mr. General-Director: will the ORF deal with the objectivity of its Corona reporting?
As a consequence of severe media bias in reporting, many Austrians elected to stop paying their dues, to which the gov’t reacted by rescinding the (voluntary) dues and replacing it with a mandatory ‘household fee’.
And from my own experience I can say that the guidelines according to which we had to shape our contributions at that time already entailed a certain one-sidedness; critical voices, for example, were definitely unwanted.
This is, sadly, not as explicit in translation. Ms. Spögler-Dinse states unequivocally that there was editorial pressure to ‘shape our contributions’, which, naturally, excluded any dissenting voices (hence the potential illegality under the charter).
Question 2: Does ORF ever plan to evaluate its handling of unvaccinated staff? I don’t want to be vindictive, but what happened was discrimination. There would be a lot to say about this.
Question 3: Will ORF deal with what some of its people have been saying on social media platforms against all those who do not want to submit to these dictates of opinion? There are supposed to be many screenshot collections of this [i.e., what ORF employees have said—mainly tweeted—on social media] and some people have ceased paying [public broadcasting fees] because of such tweets.
Question 4: Can the Director-General of ORF rule out the possibility that there were incidents such as those now affecting the BBC in the so-called ‘Lockdown Files’, i.e., that the government exerted massive pressure on reporting on the Covid issue?
What a bunch of good questions. I’m very much impressed by Ms. Spögler-Dinse, both for her moral courage to chose her personal sovereignty over compelled subjection and her personal integrity.
Finally, the penultimate word here goes to one Christian Rainer to illustrate the atmosphere back then. Mr. Rainer is the editor-in-chief of profil, a weekly news magazine that claims ‘investigative’ status (courtesy of Der Status):
[Christian Rainer] They have failed to do what has always been equally non-negotiable: people must be forced to get vaccinated…If someone refuses vaccination against all reason, he or she must be deprived of those liberties that lead to the endangerment of others. Anti-vaxxers are only allowed to enter public space in exceptional circumstances: no catering, no events, only the most necessary purchases, no public transport, curfews, possibility of dismissal by employers.
Needless to say, all of this is illegal and Mr. Rainer is, according to the revelatory statement above, a despicable human being. Shame on him.
Everywhere in these pages, I’ve documented the madness affecting our societies.
It is heartening to see that more people are stepping forward and calling out these shenanigans. Kudos and respect to them.
For comparison, look at, e.g., what the opposition party is still peddling:
At the end of her posting, Ms. Spögler-Dinse answers her own set of questions:
I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be interested in these answers. Will we get any? My guess is no. Because it doesn't matter. In the future, no one will be able to unsubscribe from [public broadcasting fees], no matter how much you insult them or how biased the news is—so why bother to do journalism? I just wanted to ask politely, for I will be obliged to pay for something I don’t intend to watch anyways.
Personally, I’m very much convinced that the editorial bias Ms. Spögler-Dinse called out has been ‘ordered’ by the government.
Why would I say so? Well…