Whether it’s the threat of war, inflation, energy security or social upheaval, much of what was forecast for us this year turned out to be media firecrackers. And the excitement of the citizens cooled down faster than a mulled wine at the Christmas market.

The year 2022 had a lot to offer, including a big festival of incorrect forecasts. Some of what was served in the daily news and the newspapers turned out to be media firecrackers on closer inspection. Since the Federal Chancellor spoke of double boom in the manner of Dieter Bohlen, the media have known no stopping them. Reality is first trivialized and then fictionalized. The “alternative facts”, initially a terminus technicus from Donald Trump’s counterfeiting workshop, have outlasted his presidency.

Which brings us to ZDF editor-in-chief Bettina Schausten. A few hours before one of the usual Frank-Walter Steinmeier speeches, which friends of the esoteric also use as a natural sleeping pill, she believed that “a kind of John F. Kennedy moment” could arise here. Somehow it must have tingled with her.

But the expected happened: The speech came without John F. Kennedy having stopped by.

The pros know the game: The target group of such flattery is not the responsible viewer, but the head of state himself, whom one would like to make pliable for the next interview in Bellevue Palace. Lived distance from the state.

Due to the war and inflation, the economic situation has also developed completely differently than forecast. Reality kept getting in the way of stock market astrologers in particular: “On average, the Dax should be at 17,068 points at the end of 2022. That would correspond to a price increase of twelve percent,” the Handelsblatt calculated for its readers at the end of 2021.

Whoever invested 100,000 euros based on this forecast has bombed a deep crater in his depot. Since the beginning of the year he has not received an additional 12,000 euros as promised, but has lost 12,000 euros. One could also say that the prognosis was correct in principle. Only the sign was wrong.

But the good news follows. Because real people live and work in the economy, whose business is not the apocalypse, but the prevention of it, things always turn out differently – especially as predicted by the mirror:

“How bad will the German recession be?” Der Spiegel asks itself and its readers. The answer:

“It is considered certain that a recession will begin in winter. Germany in relegation, that’s the prognosis.” That’s how it was read on September 16 of this year.

But the reality is more friendly: The Federal Statistical Office reports that the German economy grew by 0.4 percent in the third quarter. The Ifo business climate index rose, the consumer climate improved. Germans are buying mulled wine and roasted almonds these days. Commercial catastrophism remains a slow seller.

Association leaders and top politicians were also asked in all TV talk shows: How will people react in this precarious situation? Der Spiegel also knew the answer here and predicted a “Winter of Rage”.

And so, as always in such cases, a human chain was formed of those who warn and admonish with a gloomy undertone and on a shaky basis:

“We are in a situation where this society is really facing a social acid test,” said Ulrich Schneider, chairman of the Parity Welfare Association. You can rely on the man. He always has the speech note with the “social ordeal” ready to hand in the drawer. The hype is his business model.

But after a moment of shock – which is not surprising in view of the inflation and energy price shock – the excitement of the citizens cooled down faster than the mulled wine at the Christmas market. In many places, protests were canceled or fewer people came than expected. The social uproar failed again.

To a certain extent, as a replacement for excitement, Robert Habeck offered the media a whole range of untrue or half-true statements. His most painful misjudgment was that Germany does not have an electricity problem and therefore does not need nuclear energy. Only after a written instruction from his boss, Olaf Scholz the name, were the terms extended and the vice chancellor brought to his senses.

The pandemic front has turned out to be particularly tragic for the media this year: if not corona, then maybe another pandemic, some in the editorial office had hoped. Monkeypox took the stage on the Rocky Horror Picture Show just in time for summer, when headlines about new mutations were dying.

In July, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. Its director, Tedros Ghebreyesus, announced with pathos: “We have an outbreak that has spread rapidly across the world through new models of transmission that we know too little about.”

These warnings were never backed up by reality. By June, only around five people had died from monkeypox worldwide. To date, there are little more than 72.

But the WHO got lost in the maze of its own misjudgments early on: “If the number of cases falls, an outbreak can be all the more dangerous,” said WHO boss Ghebreyesus in Geneva. The phenomenon is well known in the vernacular: If you hold a hammer in your hand, you see nails everywhere.

The fact is that the virus spreads primarily through very close contact. In most cases, through sexual intercourse between men. This renders monkeypox useless for an outbreak of pandemic proportions. According to the WHO, 80 percent of all couples are still heterosexual.

In no field were more bucks shot than in the command post of the war observers. In all the months when the Russian troops were fortifying their positions in front of the Ukrainian border, Olaf Scholz believed in Putin’s peacefulness and refused to abandon the commissioning of Nord Stream 2. For him, this pipeline project was “a private-sector project.” Mentally, he was still light years away from the turning point.

No sooner had the Russian soldiers attacked Ukraine than our top politicians retrained from virologists to military experts. As such, they admitted losing the battle for Kyiv before it even began.

The USA offered Volodymyr Zelenskyj an immediate exit.

Gregor Gysi instructed moderator Markus Feldenkirchen with the statement: “You know, Russia cannot be beaten militarily. Unless we make a third world war. We can’t afford that.”

Gysi was in the best of company, because Professor Carlo Masala from the Bundeswehr University in Munich was also convinced of “Hard but fair” five days after the attack: “The Russian troops will win.”

Now it is the essence of “group thinking” that one person says what the other person has not thought of themselves. Thus, veritable members of the cabinet were soon spreading the assessment of the Russian blitzkrieg and the imminent Ukrainian capitulation.

This was also spoken of to the then Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk. In the “FAZ” the ambassador recalls a memorable conversation with Finance Minister Christian Lindner: “You only have a few hours,” he is said to have said. Supplying weapons or excluding Russia from international payment transactions is pointless. Melnyk: “I don’t cry often, but after the conversation with Christian Lindner, tears just ran down my face.”

Conclusion: where man lives, error is not far away. “We don’t like their music and guitar music is on the decline,” Decca Records wrote to the Beatles’ manager in 1962.

The politicians and journalists mentioned here should therefore not worry unnecessarily. He who is not mistaken has not lived. We agree – especially now at the end of the year – with Voltaire: “Love the truth, but forgive the error.”

Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.