The folly of the Ombudsman
Monday, June 169th, 2007
The story of the matter is that there is a certain journalist from one of the Danish tabloid newspapers that the Prime Minister have refused to be interviewed by for years.
There’s been a number of attacks on AFR for this reason, especially from the communist party “Enhedslisten”. They claim that AFR suppresses the freedom of speech by refusing to grant interviews to this particular journalist.
The Ombudsman has ruled that the Prime Ministers Office has not yet provided an objective reason for this, and thus that an interview should be granted as soon as possible.
This is where I think we go off track. Apparently some politicians think that all journalists have a right to interview the Prime Minister. That he cannot say no if he dislikes the journalist in question. And worse yet, the Ombudsman agrees.
I don’t think that the Prime Minister should be forced to be interviewed by anyone. After all, he should have more important things on hand, like running a small country.
It’s not like you are barred from printing articles about the Prime Minister if you have not talked to him in person.In fact, if you mentioned that AFR has declined to comment in your article, it will probably make your accusations (whatever they are) a tiny bit more credible in the eyes of the public.
A weaker Ombudsman?
The last development in this case has been rumblings about how it has weakened the Ombudsman that the Prime Minister has refused to comply and grant an interview to this journalist.
And I can only agree that it is bad if the Ombudsman has become weakened. But I find it ridiculous to blame AFR for this - the Ombudsman got himself into this mess in the first place. In my opinion, his only reply to this case should be something along the lines of “The Prime Minister has absolute discretion to decide who he wants to grant an interview.”
I think the main point about the free press is that it is not oppressed from by political interests. That doesn’t mean that it should be propped up by rules and regulations and Ombudsmen.
My name is Mikkel Høgh, I've worked with web tech for the last 20 years. These days, I work with e-commerce in Central Switzerland.