One of Norway’s largest national newspapers, VG, was declared guilty Wednesday on five counts of breaking ethical standards set by the National Press Federation (Norsk Presseforbund). VG itself had pleaded guilty to two counts in its coverage of how Labour Party politician Trond Giske was photographed dancing late at night with a young woman in an Oslo bar just months after losing his high status in the party in the wake of sexual harassment complaints.
The video of Giske dancing with a young woman identified only as “Sofie” was quickly picked up by VG and other media. “Hasn’t Giske learned anything?” asked one newscaster for NRK as the video made the rounds last winter amidst VG‘s reporting that the young woman had suggested that Giske’s attention had “been a bit much.”
Sofie later denied saying that, alleging that VG‘s reporter had all but put words in her mouth. She further claimed that Giske had not behaved inappropriately and said she felt “pressured” and “badly treated” by VG. Now, armed with the national press complaint board’s ruling that VG did violate ethical guidelines, she and her lawyer intend to seek compensation. The newspaper was cited, among other things, for not making a more critical evaluation of Sofie as a source, for not fully making clear the premises of its interview with her, for not quoting her accurately and for not taking into consideration her lack of experience in dealing with the press.
Giske, meanwhile, has seen his career implode over earlier allegations of sexual misconduct made during the “MeToo” campaign against sexual harassment. Video of him out dancing with Sofie was the proverbial last straw for many in the Labour Party, also in his home district of Trøndelag, but now he may appear vindicated. He spoke out about how he thinks he’s been unfairly treated as well, but had no immediate comment as Sofie’s case was evaluated by the complaints board.