Amsterdam caught in 'culture war' with Fox News
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.
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.
Amsterdam portrayed as a “cesspool of corruption" on Fox News
Dutch film student Robert Nieuwenhuijs posts video in reaction to Fox News
Fox News retaliates and compares statistics in the US and the Netherlands
Jennifer Evans / Expatica