Dutch news station NOS published a story on February 3 which said that 5 Dutch journalists were invited by the US Embassy in the Netherlands for a trip to Ukraine. The embassy offered to pay the journalists for hotels and travel.
According to the embassy the purpose of the trip was to enable journalists to see how Ukraine evolved after the Maidan coupe two years ago.
Also the Embassy stated this sponsored trip had nothing to do with the referendum in the Netherlands on the association treaty between EU and Ukraine. However a Tweet of Foreign minister Klimkin of Ukraine tells a different story.
an hour talking with Dutch journalists. On the referendum, reforms, Crimea, political prisoners as well as the EU flag in front of the Foreign Ministry
Проти ночі більше години говорили з голландськими журналістами. Про референдум, реформи, Крим, політв’язнів і навіть про прапор ЄС перед МЗС
— Pavlo Klimkin (@PavloKlimkin) 2 februari 2016
Link to Tweet
The involvement of the US into the media is remarkable as the CIA and NSA are investigating the role of Russia on funding of Dutch political parties and organizations.
It was a waste of US taxpayer money. First because all media part of the trip printed also some stories with bad press for Ukraine. Secondly there was no need to invite media. Leftwing newspaper Volkskrant printed an article on February 6 stating Putin very likely shot down MH17 and this should be a reason to vote Yes for the referendum. Volkskrant was not part of the trip.
Among the media who accepted the sponsored trip were Telegraaf, AD, Elsevier and freelance reporter Dirk-Jan van Baar who published an article in De Volkskrant.
Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad and Elsevier published all at the same day the same story which said that Ukraine never received a request from Dutch Safety Board to hand over primary radar images!
The interview with the former secretary of state was not arranged by Ukraine authorities.
AD published a story on Ukraine at February 4. AD as well published an interview with Klimkin at February 5 as this photo shows.
Volkskrant published an article at February 14. Dirk-Jan van Baar is the author and in the article he mentioned he went to Kiev on a trip paid by the US embassy in the Hague.
DSB and Dutch government were not amused about the statement of the former Ukraine secretary of state..
A few hours later that day, Dutch news RTL Nieuws had an interview with the Ukraine ambassador to the Netherlands Horin. He denied that Ukraine never received a request of DSB for radar recordings. He even admitted a radar station was destroyed.
Niels Rigter of Telegraaf confirms his trip was on inviation of the US Embassy. As Telegraaf, AD and Elsevier published the same story, it is highly likely the journalists listed below were attending the US state sponsored trip as well.
Earlier Rigter stated on Twitter 4 journalists attended the interview with a former secretary of state of Ukraine.
The following Dutch journalist likely attended the trip to Ukraine which was paid by the US Ambassy in the Netherlands.
- Nils Rigter, Parliamentary reporter for Dutch largest newspaper De Telegraaf . He also covers foreign affairs and defense related news
- Eric Vrijsen, political report for Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier
- Jeroen de Vreede, researching journalist for large Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad
- Dirk-Jan van Baar, a freelance journalist working for Volkskrant and Jalta
One name is unknown. Likely a journalist working for Reformatorisch Dagblad and Nederlands Dagblad.
Thanks to RTL Nieuws the story printed by Telegraaf, AD and Elsevier was quickly debunked. The effect the US had hoped for turned out to be a shot in their own foot. The image the Dutch people have of Ukraine got even more worse . The next day Elsevier wrote this article with the heading: “Did Ukraine got caught in their own lies?” . Also Telegraaf responded to the mist in this article.
Bad journalism or scoopitis
What AD, Telegraaf and Elsevier did was bad journalism for multiple reasons. First of all they should not have accepted the invitation of the US Embassy. There is a saying: Whose Bread You Eat, His Song You Sing.
But these journalists could have known that Ukraine secretary of state was telling a nonsense story. Dutch Safety Board clearly documented the efforts they made to obtain radar recordings! The final report clearly states the DSB did obtain the secondary radar recordings from the Ukraine air traffic control organization UkSATSE. It would be totally non-logical that DSB did not request primary radar recordings as well.
Additionally, any state would immediately hand over any radar recordings to a board doing the investigation of an aircrash. There would not be a need to even request those recordings.
I would say these journalists were suffering from a wellknown disease in media called scoopitis. This is the urge to bring a breaking story first without proper factchecking.
So, a very naieve reporting and bad job by AD, Telegraaf and Elsevier!
Update February 6
Elsevier, Telegraaf and AD also published articles which had bad press for Ukraine and the Dutch state.by