Former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) got off to a rough start in his new job, U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, in December, when a Dutch journalist confronted him with comments he'd made in 2015 about Muslim "no-go zones" in the country and Dutch politicians being burned; Hoekstra denied making the comments, calling them "fake news," and when confronted with proof, denied having called his comments "fake news." On Wednesday, Hoekstra held his first news conference in the U.S. ambassador's residence in The Hague, and it went about equally as well.
Several Dutch reporters asked Hoekstra again about his widely rejected claims, and Hoekstra ducked the questions. Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, posted this awkward exchange, captioning it, "The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself."
Today Dutch press welcomed @petehoekstra as new ambassador to the Netherlands. In 2015 Hoekstra said Dutch"politicians are being burned" (not true). The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions. pic.twitter.com/Dv2aalbhDP
— Roel Geeraedts (@RGjournalist) January 10, 2018
After Hoekstra refused to recant or even comment on his 2015 allegations, one Dutch reporter chided him, "This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions." "Everybody there had one question: that crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" Geeraedts told The Washington Post. "We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it." Dutch reporters sometimes spontaneously glom onto a question a Dutch politicians tries to evade, but "we were all astonished that he didn't want to take back the comment," Geeraedts said. "It was awkward, to be honest."
If this continues, perhaps Hoekstra will avoid the Dutch press — or take a page from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and refer reporters' question a cardboard cutout of himself. Peter Weber
Thailand’s prime minister sets up a cardboard cutout of himself at a press event, tells reporters to direct their questions to the cardboard. Then he walks out. https://t.co/pA3l9L808h pic.twitter.com/kv6zNyBu3d
— CNN International (@cnni) January 10, 2018