New PFU letter from NRK

In a PFU case both parties are allowed to make two statements before the case is evaluated. I've already covered the first and second statement from Ester Kristoffer and the first reply from NRK. Here's their second and final reply. It's short, so I've translated it.

Anne Aasheim at NRK has gall, I'll give her that. This is high quality deception, and to see it carried out by the news director of NRK is somewhat frightening.

Kristoffer also refers to a passage in our last reply, where we wrote: "Kristoffer was made aware that she would be asked critical questions about the network's contact with the Israeli government, and would be asked a series of critical questions about how she could work for an occupation power." Kristoffer interprets this as if NRK Dagsrevyen thereby says that she is working for an occupation power and a foreign country, and believes this is a serious accusations.

Yes, if that was what we had done, it certainly would be. What we reflect through the phrasing of that question is that many will call Israel an occupation power. That's why for some people it might be controversial to work to further Israel's reputation and interests. A question like the one we used here is very common in order to present as many sides of the issue as possible.

But what Kristoffer objected to was not the supposed question about how she could work for an occupation power, but NRK's claim that they ever asked it, and that she was was warned about this unasked question in advance. According to Kristoffer, NRK did not, before or during the interview, indicate that they were interested in that angle. Aasheim is trying to give the impression that NRK conducted the interview openly, with no hidden agenda. As I've written before, I can verify that Eirik Veum lied about his intentions in front of me and others in the group, and I have no doubt that he also lied to Ester Kristoffer in private.

The term network is used throughout the report. Ester Kristoffer uses it herself, and has no objections when our reporter uses the term. .. The word network is, in our opinion, not a loaded but a descriptive word. It was not a word which was used to cast suspicion on anyone, but to describe what kind of a group this really was.

The word "network" can mean many things, depending on the context. There are social networks and hidden networks that operate behind the scenes. Ester claims not to have volunteered the word, and it does fit poorly to the group she pulled together to organize the anti-terror meetings, but when she did use it she clearly meant it in the first sense. Members were recruited mainly through social networks.

NRK clearly meant network in the second sense: Something hidden and large, connecting anonymous and powerful people in the media, Stortinget, the military, Christian groups and the Israeli government in a common cause. NRK never made this explicit, but that's the impression the report was designed to leave.

Of course, there is one way to find out who is speaking the truth here: Did NRK conduct the interview honestly, or did they pretend to be making a positive story? Who introduced the word "network", and in what context? All NRK has to do is release the source footage. Unfortunately they're not willing to do that:

Concerning the question of releasing the source material, and a possible financial compensation, we fail to see that this belongs in a complaint to PFU.

This doesn't make sense. PFU is supposed to evaluate whether this interview was conducted and edited honestly. One party claims one thing, the other party claims something else. It's word against word. How is PFU going to do a fair evaluation unless it can watch the actual interview? Why does NRK think they can get away with this?

Is there a journalistic principle at work here that I'm not aware of? Is the source footage of an interview as sacred to a reporter as the identity of a secret source? Why? If I make a claim in this blog about the content of an e-mail, and the person who sent me that e-mail disputes my version, the obvious thing to do is to publish the full, unedited text of the e-mail. Then everyone can decide for themselves who's telling the truth.

I wouldn't think twice about this unless I had something to hide, and if I did refuse to publish it, any neutral observer would be justified in considering that an admission of guilt.

NRK clearly does not believe that PFU will consider their refusal to release the source footage an admission of guilt. Why not?

Ester Kristoffer has also written an unofficial open letter to NRK in reply to this. It's more personal than the previous letters, and it goes into detail about her version of the events. Highly recommendable, (though too long to translate). Her main point: It is difficult to lie. It's difficult to get all those small details and loose ends to sound plausible. Ester Kristoffer can provide those details, about every phone conversation she has had with NRK, about what she was told and how she reacted. Can Eirik Veum? I strongly doubt it.

NRK's second statement to PFU was written a month ago. (I only got it in the mail a few days ago.) The ball is now in PFU's court. Do they have the ability to act as the independent watchdog they're meant to be? My expecations are low, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong. Until something better comes along, Norway needs a strong, independent PFU.


Source footage is regarded as quite "holy", yes, because - theoretically - giving away the footage is the same as giving away the source.

Here, however, it's the source that wants the footage, and in my opinion NRK should absolutely provide the source footage for the interview with Kristoffer.


Well, there is obviously a reason that they are not giving out the raw source footage. Thus they must have something to hide.

There should be laws for this. A person or company cannot keep material about someone without letting that person see it for themselves.


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Heretics' almanac: NRK must come clean, October 3, 2004 02:22 PM

It is time for NRK to come clean on this: it must release all the relevant footage for independent review and also clarify its ethical standards.

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