Minister of Health Bent Høie got excited during the “Debate” on Tuesday. Now host Fredrik Solvang responds to the criticism.
– It is the role of a journalist to ask questions. I’m not Bent Høie’s propaganda apparatus. He must clear up any misunderstandings himself, says host Fredrik Solvang to VG.
Minister of Health Bent Høie objected on Tuesday, when program director Fredrik Solvang said that he had talked to the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) about wearing a bandage.
See the clip at the top of the case.
BACKGROUND: High in the throat at Solvang: – Serious questions
The injunction in Oslo on the use of bandages on public transport and indoors in public places if one cannot keep a distance of one meter, was among the topics in Tuesday’s edition of “The Debate”.
In a question addressed to the city council leader in Oslo, Raymond Johansen, Solvang says that the National Institute of Public Health in March and throughout the summer has not recommended the use of face masks. Then Høie shot in:
– This is very important for me to emphasize, because people can get a different impression when they listened to you now. The National Institute of Public Health has recommended all the mouth bandages and rules in Oslo that apply now.
The experts answer: Are face masks risk-free?
High: – Important for me to correct
The host points out that the theme was not whether FHI recommends face masks, but whether the professional basis is thorough enough in accordance with the Infection Control Act.
The question the Minister of Health responded to was asked to the City Councilor in Oslo, Raymond Johansen. Solvang pointed out that FHI says there is a weak scientific basis for recommending face masks.
– The reason I intervened was not that Fredrik asked critical questions about bandages. That is his job, Høie replied during a press conference about the measures on Wednesday.
– It is true that there is a varying knowledge base for the use of face masks, but those who watched could get the impression that FHI disagreed with the recommendation. It was important for me to correct, the minister continued.
– In yesterday’s program, Høie could answer as he does today. He himself says that the research is divergent. Instead, he set up a straw man, and thought that I create uncertainty just by asking questions about face masks, says Solvang.
Raymond defied the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s advice
– No political actor
– I only ask questions, and am not a political actor. My job is not to create confusion or not, but it is the Minister of Health’s job to clear up any confusion about the policy he implements, says Solvang.
– Has the Minister of Health succeeded in avoiding confusion in this case?
– By answering in that way, at least far more people have heard the message about using a face mask, the host answers.
– But it is an advantage in an open democracy that people are told that they do not have clarity in all research on the use of face masks in an ongoing pandemic. Asking questions about it does not mean suggesting that people should give the bluff.
At the same time, Solvang emphasizes that he supports the recommendations, and summarizes:
– Everyone should follow the authorities’ recommendations, but not be afraid to ask them questions.
Solvang was a guest at «Giæver og Giertsen earlier this autumn. Listen to the episode here: