A “massive interference with the freedom of the press.” That is what German broadcaster ARD calls the Alternative für Deutschland‘s (AfD) decision to deny it press accreditation. It refutes the ground for its exclusion, which is AfD MEP Marcus Pretzell’s conclusion that their news coverage of the party has not been up to journalistic standards. “The damage is done to our public,” ARD recons, “which we now cannot inform about the meeting of rightwing populist parties in Europe.” Other media outlets, similarly banned from attending, follow suit, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine bemoaning the fact that “public service broadcasters” are excluded. ARD lets its public know, that it “reserves the right to take legal action against its exclusion.”
Marcus Pretzell, chairman of AfD North Rhine-Westphalia, meanwhile is oblivious to any infringement of the freedom of the press: “The ZDF wanted to know if they could come, after we excluded the ARD.” he tweeted, “No [they can’t]. They can follow the livestream.” In an earlier tweet, he mentioned that those “that were in charge of invitations for the Presseball are now whining.”
It is hard to see what case ARD, whose members (regional broadcasters SWR and MDR) excluded AfD from appearing in televised debates, has.
The meeting in Koblenz on 21 January will be between the respective heads of the parties that work together in the ERF-faction in the European Parliament, and will include Front National‘s Marine Le Pen, Partij van de Vrijheid‘s Geert Wilders and AfD‘s own Frauke Petry.