Journalists’ union may take FVD to court over ‘sewer rats’ video
The journalists’ union NVJ is considering legal action against far-right MP Gideon van Meijeren over the way he confronted a journalist to ‘expose’ her as a hostile agent.
Van Meijeren turned up unannounced at the office of Merel Ek, political reporter for commercial TV channel SBS6, to challenge her on her use of the word ‘assassination’ during an interview.
When Ek objected to being filmed, the Forum voor Democratie (FVD) MP asked for the camera to be removed, but it was not switched off and continued to record the conversation from around the corner.
Van Meijeren then published the video online, presenting it as the first in a series called ‘Sewer Rats’, which he said would expose ‘gutter journalism’ in the parliamentary press corps.
The NVJ said Van Meijeren’s behaviour was ‘alarming and bad in every sense … especially because he is a member of parliament and said this is the start of a series’.
‘He’s basically saying: journalists, watch out. This kind of behaviour undermines the role of journalists,’ the union said in a statement.
The video was also roundly condemned by politicians on all sides, including prime minister Mark Rutte, who said FVD had reached a ‘new low’.
FvD heeft vandaag een nieuw dieptepunt bereikt. In een democratie moeten journalisten hun werk kunnen doen zonder in diskrediet te worden gebracht.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) October 23, 2022
‘In a democracy journalists have to be able to do their work without being discredited,’ Rutte said.
Housing minister Hugo de Jonge described Van Meijeren’s actions as ‘deliberately intimidating and undermining… pure poison’, while Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the Christian Union (CU), said on Twitter: ‘This threatens the security of journalists, freedom of speech and our democracy. Horrific. Unacceptable.’
Ek said she had cited the word ‘assassinate’ as an example of how words can be used metaphorically, after FVD leader Thierry Baudet claimed last week that he had not been speaking literally when he described western political leaders as reptiles.
‘I’m always prepared to discuss these things, but the way this was done went too far,’ she said.
Van Meijeren responded on Monday with a tweet claiming that the reactions to his video were a ‘clearly co-ordinated’ response by ‘media and politicians of the cartel’.
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