conflict & communication online, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2002
ISSN 1618-0747




Kerstin Stettner and Franz Januschek (Oldenburg)
Exposure - an action pattern of populist discourse (using the example of the Haider talk show hosted by Erich Böhme)

Talk show host Erich Böhme had, after the swearing-in of the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government in early 2000, invited Jörg Haider, together with a few other guests to "Talk in Berlin" on 5 February 2000. Before this, Sabine Christiansen, after Michel Friedman and Otto Schily had declined to participate and after public protests against providing a forum for Haider, had withdrawn her invitation for him to appear on her own talk show. Erich Böhme obviously did not want to pass up the media event and the resulting viewer quotas and went as far as to even move the premiere of his talk show ahead to two weeks before the originally planned date. Although there is no doubt that, contrary to Böhme's intention, Haider's appearance on Böhme's talk show won him sympathizers, this result is usually attributed more to the inadequate abilities of the moderator and the other participants in the conversation than to the setting of the broadcast, with its central pattern of "exposé."
In the present article the thesis will to the contrary be defended that the exposure of a (right-wing) populist is itself a component of populist discourse and not a means to combat it. In particular it will develop the idea that participants in an investigative interview can easily become entangled in populist discourse if they hold a serious conversation with a right-wing extremist and the political television discussion is so constituted by them that it is not the substantive disagreement, but rather the pure verbal sparring which holds the attention of viewers - a media setting in which it was easy for Haider to show his best side.
Creating a conflict frame for the talk show studied makes it possible to bring out the aggressive function of the individual contributions and demonstrate the lack of argumentative complexity and willingness to communicate - aspects which are, however, the very preconditions for a successful exposé.


  full text in German  
On the authors:
Franz Januschek, Extraordinary Professor for Germanic Linguistics at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg. Director of the SPRACHBÜRO in Oldenburg and Managing Director of the Language and Communication Advisory Office transcript. Special areas of interest, inter alia: xenophobic media reporting in Austria, political language of right-wing extremism and right-wing populism, teacher further training and returning immigrant reintegration assistance in Kosovo. Publications, inter alia: "Doppelzüngler. Die Sprache der ´Republikaner´" (with Sonja Bredehöft, Duisburg 1994); "Schlagwort Haider. Ein politisches Lexikon seiner Aussprüche von 1986 bis heute" (with Gudmund Tributsch, Vienna 1994); "´Notwendige Maßnahmen gegen Fremde?´ Genese und Formen von rassistischen Diskursen der Differenz in Österreich" (with Bernd Matouschek and Ruth Wodak, Vienna 1995).
Address: Gotenstr. 26, D-26121 Oldenburg. e-mail:,

Kerstin Stettner, Instructor in English at the University of Bremen and the Technical School of Bremen. Study of German and English for a teaching position in a Gymnasium at the University of Oldenburg and University of Glasgow. Examination work on the topic of "Empirische Analyse populistischer Sprache am Beispiel Jörg Haiders". Currently completing a doctorate on the topic of "Der Umgang mit Rechtspopulismus in den deutschen Medien" in the area of German linguistic studies at the University of Oldenburg.
Address: Zwickauer Str. 4, D-28215 Bremen. e-mail: