Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Aftonbladet’s credibility suffers from false Westling story

Four days ago Aftonbladet (the same newspaper which recently printed Herman Lindqvist’s blatant lies about the Crown Princess of Norway) claimed that Daniel Westling had been taken acutely ill to hospital. It turned out to be a routine check following his kidney transplant last May, something Daniel Westling himself explained in an interview with the rival tabloid Expressen.
Yesterday Aftonbladet’s editor Lena Mellin apologised for having misled their readers. But Jenny Alexandersson, the journalist who wrote the article, claims that she had the story from a “very solid source” and blames the Royal Court, saying that they never explicitly denied her story when she asked them, but only that he had had meetings at the Palace and was doing well. It is indeed a bit strange that the Royal Court uses Expressen to deny Aftonbladet’s story, but the journalist herself must take the responsibility for what she writes and cannot expect the Royal Court to explicitly confirm or deny any rumour presented to them.
Earlier Alexandersson wrote at her blog, in a post which has now been removed, about her delight in seeing her story about Westling’s acute illness on the frontpages all over Stockholm. One may wonder if she became a little carried away with her possible scoop.




  1. The director of the press department has said that the court did indeed deny the story when Aftonbladet first came calling, but their denials were not believed, and that the choice of Expressen to deny Aftonbladet's printed story was not deliberate, but simply a matter of being asked.

    Not only is Aftonbladet blaming the court for not being explicit enough in their denials (as even the comments that Alexandersson printed could be constituted as such), but accusing the court of provoking a tabloid rivalry by setting the record straight in Expressen makes Aftonbladet appear to be criticizing the court for clearing things up.

    In any case, denials don't seem to have worked too well in the past for the Swedish court, which apparently used to issue sporadic denials of tabloid stories. You've highlighted Herman Lindqvist's statements in Aftonbladet as "trash", but I've seen equally unsubstantiated rumors repeated as fact in numerous tabloid articles, royal blogs and message boards, and even articles in "serious" newspapers. In particular, rumors about the Swedish king disliking Daniel Westling and barring the crown princess from marrying, and about the younger siblings not being permitted to marry before her, survived denials from royal family members and are still being printed, so I doubt the Swedish court has any real power to quash false stories, which Lindqvist is really no worse than his colleagues in spreading.

  2. Thank you for your input and additional information (which makes Aftonbladet's actions look even worse).

    I remember the press department quite frequently issuing rather explicit denials of stories (both big and small) during the reign of Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg. But of course the danger of denying this and that is that people may tend to think that the absence of a denial of one specific story is the same as a confirmation. And as you say, the denials concerning the King and Daniel Westling have not really worked.

    There are indeed other journalists who are as bad (or worse) than Herman Lindqvist, but what puzzles me is that this obnoxious tabloid journalist is patronised by the Royal Court and the Royal Family, who have hired him to teach the Crown Princess history and who advertise him and his books on their website, even going along with the lie that Lindqvist is a historian. I doubt the Royal Court would hire Daniel Nyhlén to teach the heir to the throne about the constitution and start calling him a "political scientist"...


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