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US diplomat caught in 'fake news' fib

December 23, 2017

The new US ambassador to the Netherlands has blatantly lied about his own anti-Islamic rhetoric, and then lied about lying. His cries of "fake news" left a Dutch interviewer scratching his head.

Pete Hoekstra
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Osorio

The newly inaugurated US ambassador to the Netherlands was caught out blatantly lying about "fake news" on Friday.

Television reporter Wouter Zwart asked Ambassador Pete Hoekstra about comments on Islamic extremism in the Netherlands that he had made in 2015 in which he insisted there were "no-go zones" in the country and that politicians were being burned.

"That is an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news, I never said that," Hoekstra responded. But Zwart was armed with footage clearly showing Hoekstra talking about "chaos in the Netherlands" with "cars being burned," "politicians that are being burned" and that "yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands."

After showing him the clip, Zwart once again challenged Hoekstra and asked him about his label of "fake news."

"I didn't call that fake news, I didn't use the words today. No, I don't think I did," the ambassador replied, despite just having just called it "fake news."

The comments came towards the end of a nine-minute feature on Hoekstra for the News Hour show on Dutch public broadcaster NOS. The fake news fragment was widely shared on US social media.

Read more: Donald Trump renews threats against press, hints at revoking TV licenses

Critical of immigration policy

Hoekstra was born in the Netherlands but emigrated to the United States as a child in 1956. He has been highly critical of Europe's immigration and open borders policies of recent years. He made the "no-go zones" comments at a 2015 panel titled "Muslim Migration into Europe: Eurabia Come True?"

"No-go zones" are supposedly areas of Europe where immigration has led to such dramatic increases in crime and cultural barriers that locals and authorities can no longer go there. They are a frequent topic of conversation for anti-immigration politicians, particularly from the US, but the claims have largely been disproved.

Hoekstra told News Hour that he was not close to his boss, US President Donald Trump, but was happy to be working under him.

Trump frequently labels any critical media coverage as "fake news" and the term was even named "Word of the Year" by the Collins Dictionary last month.