Censorship against Ruth Wodak (Vienna)

Teun A. van Dijk teun at HUM.UVA.NL
Mon Feb 21 17:24:28 UTC 2000

The report included below was written by Ruth Wodak, who at this moment was
unable to post it herself. It is about a case of media-censorship against her
and her work (including our joint project "Racism at the Top"), which shows how
the mass media already become afraid of Haider...

Especially since this case is also about discourse and CDA, and what it may
imply if one does critical discourse analysis in a political situation like the
present one in Austria, I thought you should know about this case.




ruth.wodak at univie.ac.at


Interview for  “Kunststücke,” on 17.2.2000, 10-11:30 am, ORF, Küniglberg

I was asked to be interviewed for the TV program “Kunststücke” (aired on
17.2.2000) on the topic of my extensive research over the last 15 years on
racist and anti-Semitic language use in various public settings in Austria and 6
other EU-States. For this reason, I met with the program editor on Monday
(14.2.2000) for a pre-interview in which I presented my/our work (books ,
articles, and manuscripts) to him. The editor explained to me that a film will
be shown at the beginning, “Blue Eyes”, about a psychological experiment in the
USA in which blue eyed people are discriminated against; afterwards I was asked
if I could appear as a linguist and an expert.  I gladly accepted since I find
this topic very important.

I proposed to research material from the ORF archive in order to show specific
discourse sequences from ZIB2 and parliamentary debates that I could then
analyze.  The texts that I chose were derived from already published texts.
Specifically, the focus was on a ZIB-2 interview with Jörg Haider on October 29,
1997 on the topic of the, at the time, new FPÖ party program and on various
parliamentary debates on the topic of immigration.  The latter has been compared
and quantitatively and qualitatively examined with 5 other EU-States (England,
France, Holland, Spain, and Italy) in our new book “Racism at the Top”  (eds
Ruth Wodak und Teun van Dijk, Drava Verlag, Klagenfurt 2000)

On Wednesday, the editor called me up and told me that he was forbidden by the
head of the program as well as “from above” to carry out this research. I then
decided to read aloud the relevant theoretical and empirical findings in the

On Thursday, 17.2.2000, before the recording of the interview, we discussed the
sequencing of the questions and the discussion. The film was to be aired in 2
parts, first the introduction of the film followed by the interview and then the
second part of the film. The interruption was to occur at that point in the film
in which the psyhologist was accused by parents of being a “nigger lover.”
Subsequent to this, I was supposed to analyze the term used by the parents. I
said that I would like to read out 2 quotes, one from Jörg Haider and one from
Helene Partik-Pable, who both degrade black people.  Haider used “bush nigger”
(“Every bush nigger has, in the future, the possibility of treating his
colleagues in Austria”; Haider on the new medical law, Der Standard,
13.10.1998).  Partik-Pable suggested, in a parliamentary debate, that black
Africans “do not only look different, (
) but they also are different and in
fact they are extremely aggressive”; (Partik-Pable, Tiroler Tageszeitung, 20.5.
1999). At this point, the head of the program came over and explained to me that
I may not mention the names of the quoted politicians.  When I asked why this
was not possible, he responded that otherwise he would have to write 10
explanations, that these names would be edited out or that the interview would
not be allowed to be aired.  In reponse to my question “since when has science
been restricted in the ORF,” he replied that these are explosive times and he
fears for this program. He suggested that I should say “Austrian politicians.” I
refused because these kinds of statements are typical for one of the parties and
not for all. I was determined to mention that the quality of these statements
are systematically and linguistically distinguishable from other statements
(“The boot is full” Josef Cap). We then agreed, everyone already very nervous,
on the name of the party. I was also asked to quote statements from other
parties. This I had proposed to do anyway since I wanted to present scientific
results. I briefly thought over whether I should refuse to participate in the
interview. I then decided to do it because I thought that the topic was
important and so I stayed on so that at least a few research results could be

In my many years in this profession, I have never been censored by the ORF. For
scientific work, it is of utmost importance that the sources of one’s texts are
supplied (so that statements may be verified).

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