‘Tsipras laughs and we pay, pay, pay’ says German Bild tabloid
Report claims Germany helping euro area to bury own rules, along with trust in currency
After seven hours of debate securing a mandate for Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras to negotiate a third aid package with its creditors, Bild’s yellow headline above read: “Tsipras laughs and we pay, pay, pay.” Below it, with the main headline, Bild fumed that the Greeks were taking the mickey.
Germany’s Bild tabloid is always a compelling package for keeping on top of the news - for some.
Saturday’s edition was a prime example, spreading over 18 pages no less than 25 different pairs of bared female breasts, a man flaunting “Germany’s prettiest beer belly” and a full-page anti-Greek rant.
Each 80 cent copy of the daily reaches an estimated 12 million readers.
Saturday’s Greece package fired on all cylinders, and from all angles, at the parliamentary vote in Athens ahead of the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
After seven hours of debate securing a mandate for Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras to negotiate a third aid package with its creditors, Bild’s headline on its story read: “Tsipras laughs and we pay, pay, pay.”
Below it, Bild fumed that, with the parliamentary vote a week after a very different referendum vote, the Greeks were taking the mickey.
The strident tone continued in an editorial under the headline “Loser Germany”, complaining that Germans will “it seems pay further billions for Greece (and most likely more again)”.
Via its bailout contributions, and its contributions to ECB measures and IMF credit, Germany has a combined exposure of more than €80 billion in loans to Greece.
Broadsides on Merkel
In recent weeks, the newspaper has broadened its attack on Greece to launch broadsides at Chancellor Angela Merkel, suggesting the German leader is now out of favour at the tabloid.
Bild’s lead political correspondent Julian Reichelt stepped up the attacks on Dr Merkel in an editorial in Saturday’s edition, accusing her of being unable to demand the same reforms of Greece that Germany pushed through a decade ago.
“The prosperity secured and increased through unsparing structural reforms (in Germany) is now being passed on (to Greece) and in exchange one accepts paper-thin reform promises from the completely non-credible Greek government,” he wrote.
Along the way, he said, Germany was helping the euro area bury its own rules and, with it, the trust the single currency enjoyed around the world.
“This collapse will be felt for years .. and radical, nationalist parties that run election campaigns against the European idea are saying: Thanks!”
Completing the populist package, Bild ran a four-panel comic likening Greece and its EU/IMF creditors to a penniless beer drinker and a patient barman.
“I’m afraid I have no money but if you buy me one I’ll happily drink along with you,” says the grinning customer to the barman.
‘Part of the furniture’
The barman agrees to keep serving the customer - “somehow you’re part of the furniture” - and to finance his drinking habit by increasing prices for his other customers.
Saturday’s full-frontal attack is not unusual for the best-selling German tabloid in its dealings with Greece.
Early on in the crisis it coined the term “Pleitegriechen” or “deadbeat Greeks” and demanded Athens “sell a few islands” to pay its debts.
In an eye-catching stunt, one of its correspondents handed out drachma to delighted Greeks in Athens while a Bild photographer snapped pictures.
In the Brussels press room on Saturday, correspondents for other German media outlets scanned the Bild spread with distaste - but declined to go on the record to criticise it.
“The problem is that this just fans the flames at home, influencing opinions of people who don’t know the detail of the Greek crisis,” said one German print journalist.
Another took issue with Bild’s five-year campaign of insistence, suggestion and insinuation that Germany has handed over billions in cash to Greece.
“People believe that this is real cash, billions of euro, never to be seen again,” said another German correspondent for a leading magazine.
“If you try and point out in Germany that no real money has flowed, that it’s all virtual loans, they look at you funny. That is Bild’s achievement in the Greek crisis: poisoning the debate in Germany.”