Scandinavia’s leading talk show Skavlan saw its ratings soar almost in line with the complaints that poured in, after Norwegian host Fredrik Skavlan interviewed the leader of Sweden’s anti-immigration party, Jimmie Åkesson. Swedes didn’t think Åkesson should have been invited on the show, while Norwegians were angry because they thought Skavlan was rude.
Around 1.2 million viewers tuned in Friday night to the talk show, which also included a segment with activist Gunhild Stordalen who’s recovering from a deadly disease. Åkesson stole the show, however, making his first appearance since he went off on sick leave after his party did well in last autumn’s national elections in Sweden.
Skavlan faced touch criticism afterwards, after thousands of viewers complained either on social media or directly to networks NRK and SVT, that the host was either hostile towards Åkesson or giving him too much publicity, So many complaints were filed that Norway’s broadcasting council will review them, and the show even faced a boycott campaign.
“It’s a journalist’s job to ask critical questions,” Per Edgar Kokkvold, leader of the council (Norsk Krinkastingsrådet), told newspaper Aftenposten, adding that a politician must always be prepared for critical questions. The council will review, however, the premises for the interview and whether Åkesson thought he’d only be questioned about his recent illness and depression.
Skavlan himself told NRK that it would have been “completely wrong” to invite Åkesson into the studio without asking him any critical, political questions. Skavlan denied he had any political agenda.