Geert Dales – The hypocrite of the week: Paul Witteman

Every week I provide the column in the Koster & VanDijk podcast of BNR radio The hypocrite of the week† This is the text for the Thursday, June 23, 2022 episode:

The well-known presenter Paul Witteman, 75 years old, recently received the Honorary Silver Nipkow disc as an oeuvre prize for his decades-long television work.

The guests at the award ceremony, mainly from the Hilversum ‘we know our environment’, clapped their hands as they read the jury report. “Witteman respects everyone, whether it is the Prime Minister or a plagiarism professor,” said the jury.

‘First gather knowledge at someone else’s expense, then invent that same knowledge in the snack circuit, Paul Witteman knows all about it’

A beaming Witteman made it clear in the first sentence of his acceptance speech that the soggy jury report could go straight into the wastepaper basket. “I thought for a moment that I had to get used to a life without an oeuvre award,” said the laureate, adding: “Just ask Arnold Karskens how that feels”. The hall burst out laughing.

Henk Bres

I suspect that Karskens was not in that room because it is hardly conceivable that he would have accepted this humiliation. Certainly not at a time when the incestuous public broadcasting clique, in which Witteman is up to his ears, has opened an attack on him because with his broadcaster Ongehoord Nederland, he would act as an unjournalistic conduit without criticism.

‘At the House of Commons, half a sole of the caliber of Henk Bres was allowed to spout the greatest nonsense unhindered, often worse than the repulsive bullshit that Filip Dewinter recently spouted in Ongehoord Nieuws’

Paul Witteman is rightly praised by friend and foe for his qualities as an interviewer, which he demonstrated for years in programs such as Behind The NewsBuitenhofPeacock and Witteman and in recent years with the music program

But I also think of Paul Witteman The House of Commonswhere he allowed half-soles of the caliber Henk Bres to spout the greatest nonsense unhindered, often worse than the abhorrent nonsense that the ultra-right Flemish politician Filip Dewinter was recently allowed to spew undisturbed on Karskens’ news show Unheard of News† Reason why Ongehoord Nederland should now be punished according to the Board of Directors of the NPO, including Wittemans VARA friends.

Bukman and his fellow management agencies

With Paul Witteman I also think of his statement in 2004 – mind you: 2004!- that he would stop with paid side activities because he had realized that they were not compatible with the need for independent and critical journalism. You cannot be the chairman or debate leader for a royal fee at a company, ministry or institution one day and criticize such an organization the next day if it suddenly appears in the news.

Witteman apparently thought so too. Still, he happily went through with it. Up to the present day. To be on the safe side, I checked with Bukman Management and Geerling Evenementen & Artisten whether the long-standing relationship with Paul Witteman still exists. And yes. You can still go there for your bookings. Costs a lot of money by the way. Not that they like to talk about it in those circles -discreetly, isn’t it- but for an afternoon of Witteman you are not done with 10,000 euros.

This chatter is characteristic of many in public broadcasting. Another reason why journalists from other media like to join On 1HumbertoJinek or any talk show for that matter. The more often you have your head in the picture, the more chance of assignments and the higher the price at Bukman and his fellow management agencies. So it is double catch for your work. First gather knowledge at the expense of others. Then peddled that same knowledge in the snack circuit. Paul Witteman knows all about it.

Hypocrite of the week

Arnold Karskens, who was insulted by Witteman, has been given an extra week by the NPO board to defend himself against the charge that Ongehoord Nederland is merely a conduit for subjective opinions. In that week, the NPO board itself could think deeply about serving hatches of the Paul Witteman caliber, which could go on for decades.

The Honorary Silver Nipkow Disc is heartily awarded to the veteran. But from me he gets the goblet for the hypocrite of the week.

This article was previously published on the author’s website.

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