Amsterdam caught in 'culture war' with Fox News

24th August 2009, Comments 14 comments

The war of words continues over representation of the Dutch capital.

Amsterdam – Fox News has responded to criticism of its portrayal of Amsterdam as a “cesspool of corruption” after thousands of videos were posted on Youtube in the city's defence.

Out of the 1,100 Youtube videos that have gone online since The O'Reilly Factor slammed Amsterdam as a corrupt city in December 2008, Dutch film student Robert Nieuwenhuijs’s film has been the most popular.

The Truth about Amsterdam, which went online 27 July, displays Dutch and American drug statistics side by side, and pictures of an idyllic-looking Amsterdam.

More than 2,100 people left comments under the Youtube video that has been viewed over 319,000 times.

In response, The O'Reilly Factor aired Nieuwenhuijs' video and readdressed its 2008 position on 3 August in the “Culture Warriors” segment.

“I don't know if you can blame all of their crime problems on the fact that they have legalised prostitution and legalised drugs,” said Gretchen Carlson, a co-host, on the most recent segment.

The discussion between O'Reilly and Margaret Hoover, another co-host, touched on the statistics presented in the video. The percentage of the population that had used marijuana in the Netherlands was 22.6 percent compared to 40.3 percent in the United States, according to the national surveys quoted by Nieuwenhuijs.

“The way they do their statistics in the Netherlands is different,” said O'Reilly on the show. “Plus it's a much smaller country. It's a much smaller base to do the stats on.”

How it all began: Free love, free drugs
The row began after the Fox News show claimed the Netherlands' experimentation with social tolerance “backfired” in a segment in 2008.

The Fox segment, which was largely directed at those in the US who support legalisation of marijuana, showed TV host O'Reilly commenting on how the Amsterdam city council was shutting down coffee shops and brothels to combat the organised crime that had taken over the city.

Culture war
Each side in this culture war has their own biases to account for, as O'Reilly and Nieuwenhuijs use dramatically different images of the same Amsterdam to make their points.

While Nieuwenhuijs' video focuses on O'Reilly's representation of Amsterdam, the video uses statistics for the entire Netherlands and not drug use statistics from the city itself.

On the other hand, O'Reilly frequently groups “Amsterdam” and “the Netherlands” together throughout the segments, implying the Netherlands is a homogeneous “disaster” because of its tolerant policies.

“I believe that crime has increased due to the coffeeshops and brothels,” said 21-year old Dutch student Timothy van Vliet. However, if they were not legalised “crime might have increased more than it has.”

“Relaxation of [the US] drug policy might not work, as I believe it does here, since the US has exponentially larger problems when it comes to drugs and drug-related crimes.”

The Netherlands has also considered changes to its nationwide soft drug policies in response to drug tourism from neighbouring countries.

However, a government-commissioned research panel suggested that coffee shop policy remain “old style” for local users, according to July article in Trouw.

Timeline of Amsterdam / Fox News row
December 2008:
Amsterdam portrayed as a “cesspool of corruption
" on Fox News


July 2009:
Dutch film student Robert Nieuwenhuijs posts video in reaction to Fox News


August 2009:
Fox News retaliates and compares statistics in the US and the Netherlands


Jennifer Evans / Expatica



14 Comments To This Article

  • Barry posted:

    on 2nd November 2009, 14:23:02 - Reply

    I have visited The Netherlands around 27 times in the last twenty years and I love the country and its people. When I first visited, it all about the Red LIght District but now I travel all over the country and visit with my family. Occassionally I still pop in to the Red Light District just to wonder around and see the sights! I feel safer there than I do in any other city I have visited, including my home city of liverpool. I have never been mugged, attacked or had any need to contact the police. I dont use drugs but all the people I have seen in Amsterdam who do use them have always been polite and keep themselves to themselves. I am not stupid and I realise that criminal activity goes on "underground" but I can take you to any town or city and find a pub or bar were illegal activity is taking place. Amsterdam has the perfect mix to suit everyone and trying to clamp down on things will only make it a bigger and dangerous problem. As for Fox news, it is the only news channel here in the uk that I pass when scanning the channels. It has no substance. I have only come back from Amsterdam yesterday and I have plans to go back very soon. I wouldn't go if it was such a cesspool of crime. Long live Amsterdam.
  • Schmoozer posted:

    on 18th September 2009, 03:00:41 - Reply

    I've been to Amsterdam on a couple occasions (as recently as last year). I had a lovely time (the city and people are wonderful!) and I saw NO evidence of a crime wave. What I saw were a whole lot of tourists and locals making full use of the available 'entertainment', and by and large behaving themselves respectfully. If Amsterdam moves too far to the right it would greatly decrease my desire to go there and spend my money on their economy. How many Euros are they going to leave on the table if they change the historical character of the town?

    My thoughts on Bill O\\\\\\\'Reilly:

    Lying (or at least greatly exaggerating)

    Yellow (Journalist)

    Enough said...Don't pay any attention to him or to Fox News, he's an arrogant douchebag, and Fox has a right-wing agenda.
  • Jaded posted:

    on 28th August 2009, 10:28:35 - Reply

    Where do you get your facts from Breezer, this is just your opinion and a very narrow uneducated one at that, I stated over and over that prostitution is not just a FEMALE issue, there are male prostitutes and children who are prostitutes. It is the narrow mind of males like you and Steve who think that prostitution liberates woman or anyone for that matter. I do think making prostitution legal or illegal has solved the problem associated with it. In fact I feel opportunities to really liberate people such as education are the way to go. If prostitution was left only to the horny guys and the woman who really want to do the job we would not have sex slaves, rapes, drugs and murders that are associated with the so called prostitution.
    How do you explain all the illegal activities that are directly associated to legalize prostitution in NL and how do you explain the same in the US but it is illegal? The fact is prostitution is as necessary as murder, selling drugs etc. It is necessary to those who want to profit the easy way, make big cash for little effort and who cares who gets hurt. It’s the way to go if you are a criminal and most likely a sociopath.
    Most people who are prostitutes are not educated, have addictions, and have mental illness. Most of these were sexually abused as children or have been victims of sex crimes. The facts you should research.
    I really doubt anyone with a healthy mind will go criminal if they can’t have sex. In fact it is easy sex to pay for it and again most people who want this type of arrangement want to do it the easy way. I suspect that this attitude is the very reason why people do not want to have sex with them freely… Come on having sex male/female is not so hard unless you have a problem and paying for sex will not change those problems.
    The bigger picture here is what the price everyone is paying for this is “easy” paid for sex?
  • Kelt posted:

    on 28th August 2009, 00:52:50 - Reply

    I am an American, legally residing in Holland. I find the statement O\'Reilly made to be quite laughable... they do statistics different in Holland? What the heck? As another poster pointed out, ratios are just that - it doesn\'t matter if the base group is big or small. He couldn\'t find anything real to comment on, so made stuff up I guess.

    I sure hope that people here don\'t think that all Americans think like this guy. He made me mad when I listened to him when I lived in America, and he still makes me mad now that I live over here.

    I don\'t live in Amsterdam, and have only been to the airport there, and I find it amusing that he uses the words Amsterdam and Holland interchangably. Like ALL of Holland is Amsterdam.

    Just don\'t listen to this whacko.

  • Breezer posted:

    on 27th August 2009, 23:55:02 - Reply

    Thank you for explaining our situation to this woman in such a comphrensive manner. I only hope more women read this and understand that legalized prostitution will only empower women as opposed to what is taking place where it is illegal and considered taboo. We need to change the laws worldwide where consenting adults are forbidden to engage in activity that is harmless to others and is above all private. What happens in the US is appalling: not only do they entrap you by placing a hot looking blond cop on the sidewalk to pick up but they'll publicly humililate you by posting your police mugshot on the public tv channel. They call it "JohnTV". It not only destroys the reputation of the man and his family, it also destroys his livelihood. This is a case where the punishment is much more severe and destructive than the crime. In such cases, a good argument for continuing prohibition is no longer valid.
  • Steve posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 23:13:38 - Reply

    Hi Jade, I'm not being sarcastic, just factual. You reflect your limited experience as a female, so you don't understand males. Females can go out and get laid any time, even the ugliest, For males, a small percentage engage in most of the sex, so a high percentage are frustrated, which is a direct cause of most aggression and violence in society. No male cares about fighting with other males when he's getting regularly laid. Simple. So the big frustrated percentage, is left with wanking or prostitutes. Wanking loses its excitement after a while.
    You can try to control people but that would be covering the symptoms, not treating the cause.
  • Jaded posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 21:03:20 - Reply

    I am not sure if you are being sarcastic or not. I will as if you are not, I strongly disagree prostitution is not just about mens sexual needs, and I strong disagree with the your statement that men will become agressive or rape or resort to violence based on sexual needs. In fact rape is a violent act just as murder and the need is control. Healthy people do not need to rape just because they can't get laid. Abnormal people need to rape and do violent crimes because they are sick.
  • Steve posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 16:23:01 - Reply

    Prostitution is necessary in any age and society.
    Like all male animals, men have sexual needs and if they are not satisfied the frustrated males can become aggressive, resulting in violence and rape. Some males who lack the necessary social skills cannot satisfy their urges in normal relationships.
    Surely eligible females have the right to choose that job - so necessary for society - if it doesn't harm others.
  • Jaded posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 15:24:56 - Reply

    The real fact is FOX NEWs is a joke and a bigger joke is O\'Riley... why anyone would even listen to a guy who tried to boycott french fries because I guess he thought they were french is beyond me.
    The issue and debate is good but dont\' listen to this guy on any debate, he is a big mouth who only likes attention.
    The issue I have is prostitution, I know that many of the women are being held as slaves and the soft approach allows people to exploit them... men too.
    The fact is we need to ask the society we live in why do women and men still have to do this so called profession in a modern society that has plenty of jobs and opportunites or do we have plenty of opportunites and education?
  • KP posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 15:13:46 - Reply

    After 26 years US military service I retired to Holland. A wonderful country. O'Rielly paints a picture of the Netherlands that is completely false. Am I a duggie, use drugs, NO. In fact during my years stationed in Holland as military police I worked closely with the Dutch Military Police and local police forces. O'rielly is pure and simple, full of shit when he says the Dutch police do nothing to enforce drugs. I've seen it first hand (the enforcement). FOX News has always gone for sensationalism of the news and slants towards the Christians and the almost defunct Republican party. Hell, they can't even offer a decent candidate to vote for. As for drugs in the US, it's rampant, no control. The police although trying to enforce the laws are in a nutshell "overwhelmed". But God forbid that we place any money towards this enforcement. Folks at home need to take off their rosy glasses, look at our own problems and how to solve them, NOT compare them to another country. Looking for a scape goat O'Rielly? Look closer to home, look at our corruption, try reporting on that, be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
    When you do that, you'll gain my respect. Until then, do some soul searching, you need to do that.
    The Dutch response gave the ratio of population in the study, you chose to ignore that important fact, you went on about Holland being a smaller country. Well Mr O'Reilly, the last time I checked, when you quote a ratio of population it does not matter how big or small you are.

    I love the line in the clip," we've all been to Amsterdam"...ha ha....seems you only looked for the seedy side of the culture...shame on you and shame on your so called experts. If that's reporting, you need to look for a new job! What ever happened to objective reporting.....
  • Steve posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 11:44:03 - Reply

    Holland has a far more mature approach to soft drugs and prostitution than the US. US 'culture' is basically responsible for corrupting the morals of the whole world with their porn and fashions and degrading of women as sex objects, titillating men and yet keeping prostitution illegal so men's only option is to rape someone. Great policy.
    They even tempt and entrap the sexually frustrated men using policewomen posing as hookers. So clever!

    Similarly keeping marijuana use illegal, a drug less harmful than tobacco. Personal use could only harm the user, but making it a criminal offense wastes money and harms many.
    Polititians have to lie about using it when they were young.
    Such hypocrisy by these idiots in the US.

    I hope Holland maintains its intelligent policies.
  • koyan posted:

    on 25th August 2009, 13:23:25 - Reply

    What do you expect from NeoNazi FOX News conservative church freaks. Just another hateful, trying to scare people, brainwashing report, nothing new there.
  • Al posted:

    on 25th August 2009, 05:31:04 - Reply

    Firstly, if anything, Nederlands has "cracked down" USA/UK style on the drug/prostitution/porno industry in a big way. Much of the old zones are gone. Famous owners has been paid off. Sex consent ages and types of legal porn have been changed. Drink driving laws have been hardened. Certain drugs (even relatively safe ones like mushrooms) have been banned and others have been "cracked down on"! And the situtation has gotten worse than before. The problem is TOURISTs who come for the various things...easier and cheaper travel and the false reputation that Holland is "drugs and whores", but more importantly the other issue -that people won't mention is the role of immigrants, often illegal, in the drug and sex trade and criminality. What was once, at least somewhat, a relatively free and open thing has, sadly, become under control of very suspect individuals and gangs often from abroad and often funnelling "workers" in both "industries" from other countries illegally. Bringing forced people, harder drugs, guns, and more violence. Immigration control has a lot to do with stemming this tide.
  • Matthew posted:

    on 24th August 2009, 17:47:17 - Reply

    Missing from this debate is discussion on the reason why the Netherlands has such a problem with organized crime. Would organized crime groups have so much involvement with the marijuana industry in the Netherlands if commerical production was legal and regulated? Of course not. Organized crime does not control the alcohol industry and they aren't making billions every year on alcohol sales. Organized crime does make billions on marijuana sales in the Netherlands every year and this makes them powerful and funds all sorts of other criminal activity. It is time for the Netherlands to allow for large scale commerical production of marijuana like we see with other crops. Without legal production and a legal means for coffeeshops to obtain the product they sell, organized crime will always thrive in the cannabis industry in the Netherlands. Other nations won't complain that much if at the same time commercial production is allowed there is a major crackdown on those who produce and sell cannabis outside of the legal system. This would actually reduce cannabis exports from the Netherlands.