Journalists and Trump critics cringed on Friday as Pete Hoekstra, former congressman and the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, was caught blatantly lying to a Dutch reporter and attempting to hide behind President Donald Trump’s pet phrase—”fake news.”
A journalist with the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur asked Hoekstra about his claim, made at a congressional hearing in 2015, that “chaos” brought on by Muslims in the Netherlands had forced the country to establish “no-go zones.”
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The ambassador quickly called reports of the statement “fake news”—offering the phrase as one commonly used by Americans—only to be proven immediately wrong by a video of him at the hearing. He then went on to deny that he had used the term “fake news” only moments before.
The journalist openly laughed after the exchange, while critics on social media denounced Hoekstra’s interview as an embarrassment to the U.S.
The Dutch press has previously criticized Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to the U.S. as a child, for his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ views, which put him at odds with his birthplace’s largely socially progressive values. When Trump appointed him ambassador, the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant called Hoekstra “a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the ’50s.”