In the new political climate, people say what they want and if there is an uproar, they simply deny it.

DIn recent days I often think of a fragment of news time From 2017, Wouter Zwart interviews the then US ambassador Pete Hoekstra. “You once said that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” says Zwart. “That cars and politicians are burned here.”

“I didn’t say that,” the Republican replies. “This is fake news.” Cut to a debate from two years earlier, where Hoekstra says exactly that: politicians are on fire, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. “Real? Because you said so,” Zwart says. Hoekstra: “I didn’t say that.”

About the Author
Doortje Smithuijsen is a philosopher and journalist. Forof VolkskrantShe writes essays and reports and serves as a television critic once every five weeks.

What I think of: the look Zwart exchanges with his cameraman. A look that says, ‘You saw it too, didn’t you? And heard it?’ He said exactly that, didn’t he? A look that, in all sincerity, says, ‘Huh?’

It was hard not to look at the TV reports from The Hague with that gaze last week. Our new PVV minister Marjolein ‘My tweet is correct’ Faber, who cheerfully opposes RTL News announces that from now on he “no longer has any personal opinions” and will therefore no longer tweet. Barry Madlener, PVV Infrastructure Minister, who on RTL has to choose between Trump and Biden, and undoubtedly chooses Trump. Reinette Klever, PVV Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Aid, who does the same. Madlener and Klever, who laugh when the journalist points out that this is not the government’s line. Klever: “I fell into the trap.” Madlener: “I plead guilty.”

Wouter Zwart (left) and Pete Hoekstra, former US ambassador to the Netherlands, during a broadcast of ‘Nieuwsuur’ in 2017.

Twenty-four hours after calling his own statements fake news, Hoekstra apologized in 2017. In the new political climate, where no one has personal opinions anymore, something like that doesn’t seem necessary anymore. People say what they want, and if there’s an uproar about it, they just deny it. “My tweet is right” becomes “my tweet is wrong,” and then everyone has to stop talking about it.

“How many days can we talk about repopulation?” Albert Verlinde asked on Thursday evening. Today inside. “I’ve never heard of that before.” Surprising, but let’s not go into details about it. Let’s also not talk about Klever, who during his introductory meeting with the NGO said that he does not expect there to be any problems abroad for being in favour of Zwarte Piet, apparently forgetting or ignoring that the United Nations has been insisting on this for years.

On Friday afternoon, during the NOS Newsthe average Purmerend resident turned out to have more political instincts than an average minister. “I feel ashamed,” said a bespectacled man who had just gotten out of the family car. “I chose this,” continued an older woman in a light blue jacket. “But not because of these childish things, right?” Her friend gave Dick Schoof some advice: “Retire well.”

Dick Schoof may have also thought about this during his now iconic ‘this cabinet is not a nursery’. At that moment, that look from Wouter Zwart also seemed to appear on his face for a moment.

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