Donald Trump's ambassador to the Netherlands claimed that country had "no-go zones" put in place by Muslims, then said accurate reporting on his comments were "fake news."
Donald Trump's chosen U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands contributed to a growing list of international embarrassments under this administration as he insisted that a reporter had created "fake news," only to be confronted with video of the incident in question — starring the ambassador himself.
Former Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra spoke to a Dutch news program in his role as ambassador, and was asked about his past claim that certain areas of the Netherlands were "no go" zones because cars and politicians were being set on fire due to radical Islam.
Hoekstra told the reporter that he never made those claims.
"I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement," he insisted. We would call it fake news."
The attempt at deflection was immediately rebuffed, and video was shown of Hoekstra declaring in 2015, "There are no go areas in the Netherlands." He then claimed he had never called the reporting "fake news," seconds after he had.
@Nieuwsuur to new US ambassador: "You mentioned [..] that there are no go-zones in the Netherlands and that cars and politicians are set on fire."
Pete Hoekstra: "I didn't say that. That's actually an incorrect statement [..] fake news."
Hmm, let's have a look at the footage ? pic.twitter.com/vlstN9vhSK
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) December 21, 2017
REPORTER: Speaking of threat, at one point you mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands and that cars and politicians are being set on fire –
HOEKSTRA: I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news. I never said that.
REPORTER: Is it fake news? Because it's what you really said.
HOEKSTRA: No, it's not what I said.
HOEKSTRA (2015 video): The Islamic movement is now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned. And yes there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.
REPORTER: You called it fake news, obviously –
HOEKSTRA: I didn't call that fake news. I didn't use the words today.
HOEKSTRA: No. I don't think I did.
Trump has used the phrase "fake news" to weakly attack news reports and journalism he doesn't like or that has exposed negative aspects of his past or his presidency. Its use by underlings like Hoekstra is a demonstration that the dishonest Trump mindset and approach is not confined to a single personality, but is in fact a defining characteristic of the right.
Myths about so-called "no-go zones" have been a staple in the conservative world for years. It came about after Fox News popularized the term as part of the right-wing propaganda networks' anti-Muslim scaremongering (they also use it as a way to demonize Europe).
As they so often do, conservative Republican politicians repeat the untrue statements that they and their supporters see on Fox News, accepting mythology as factual reporting.
The real-world effect of this then makes America a laughingstock, as international governments are puzzled where these fake stories about their own countries are coming from – and they cannot understand why so many of America's leaders are regurgitating these tall tales.
Hoekstra will now end up poisoning the relationship between America and an ally because of a dumb thing sourced to Fox News. Just like Trump.