Jesse Klaver documentary leads to critique on public broadcaster's objectivity

Broadcasting association BNNVARA announced that it will be showing 'Jesse' - a documentary about GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver - during prime time on September 4th. The fact that the documentary was made by a former GroenLinks employee and friend of Klaver, triggered outrage on social media, where some renounced the documentary as a "propaganda film" and others raised questions about public broadcaster NPO's objectivity, the Volkskrant reports.

PVV parliamentarian Fleur Agema and Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet were among those complaining about the seeming lack of objectivity of public broadcasting. "NPO abandons all pretense of objectivity with 'intimate documentary' about Jesse Klaver. Break the media cartel", Baudet tweeted. Former Tweede Kamer president Frans Weisglas (VVD) called it "quite unheard of" for a public broadcaster to show a documentary about Klaver that was made by a campaign employee.

The documentary was made by Joey Boink. During the campaign preceding the parliamentary election in March - during which GroenLinks went from 4 parliamentary seats to 14 - Boink worked as cameraman for Klaver, according to the newspaper. Some of this footage is used in the documentary. The documentary also features footage of Klaver attending his mother's funeral, and Boink and Klaver going to her house afterwards to clean things up. 

Film producer Doxy denies that this is a "GroenLinks movie", according to the Volkskrant. The political party itself did not contribute financially to the film. GroenLinks did, however, give Boink permission to use the footage he filmed while working for the party's campaign, free of charge.

Boink too denies that he made the documentary specifically to promote Klaver. According to him, Jesse offers a "unique perspective", gained specifically by him working alongside Klaver at GroenLinks. "I was in The Hague in the room next to Jesse. Because I was embedded, I could be part of special moments where an outsider never could have been", he said to the newspaper. 

According to Boink, his film is "completely different" to other documentaries about politicians, such as Tussen Pieke en Peilen about SP leader Emile Roemer and De Wouter-tapes about former PvdA leader Wouter Bos. "Precisely because I was part of the campaign team", Boink said to the newspaper. "Of course there are parallels between the films. You cannot escape certain benchmarks in the life of a politician. But in my film, I was also involved in spontaneous events, not just on schedule or shooting days. Take Klaver's meeting in Roosendaal with a girl starting over his father. Or how Klaver prepared for the way he shook PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher's hand before the debate."

"We were colleagues and a friendly bond emerged from that. Did it hinder me in making my film? Not at all. Friendship also means telling each other the truth, even though the other is not always happy with it. I never had the idea that my relationship with Jesse restricted me in the way I could tell the story about him", Boink said to the Volkskrant.

BNNVARA hasn't responded to the criticism of the planned broadcast yet.