The Belgian Minister of Defense’s encounter with a “dangerous” blogger

A drunk Belgian minister in New York on a cancelled meeting, a blogging waitress, a phone call, a lost job, a Facebook group – blogging is “dangerous”.

It is a really fascinating story that has been unfolding in the Belgian blogosphere lately, and it is quite juicy since it involves the Belgian Minister of Defense, Pieter De Crem. In short, this seems to be the main points: A Belgian student and blogger, Nathalie Lubbe Bakker, works in a Belgian bar in New York bar where she recently served the Belgian Minister of Defense and his entourage. They were drinking quite heavily and singing burlesque versions of Flemish folk songs.

They were in New York for a UN meeting, which was moved to Geneva. The minister and his crew knew that the meeting was cancelled even before they started their trip from Belgium. But since it was so quiet in Brussels now, nothing happened, they figured out they might just as well go to New York, one of the minister’s colleagues told the Belgian waitress.

The reason why I and so many other people know about it (also Techcrunch), is because the waitress blogged about the event. She got so pissed off by the defense minister who went to New York for the tax payers’ money on a cancelled meeting, in the middle of the financial crisis.

Four days later, we learned that the waitress got fired. Apparently, one of the spokespeople of the minister made a phone call to her boss. What was said, we don’t know, but for those of you who can read Dutch (or like to use Google translate), read Natalie Lubbe Bakker’s account here.

In the aftermath, lots of things have happened. A Facebook group in support of Nathalie is established, a blogger has created a “Dangerous Blogger Alert”-banner, after Pieter De Crem called “blogging a dangerous phenomenon”. More stories here. One blogger suggests De Crem should be fired, not the blogging waitress, another blogger asks whether bloggers can write about anything.

It is hard to know the accuracy of all these events, but at least one conclusion could be drawn from this -  the people formerly known as the audience (as Jay Rosen says) has long ago started taking notes and pictures and videos. Or as Techcruch says: “When everyone is a blogger, nothing you say is off record.” Barack Obama also learned that the hard way when Mayhill Flower wrote down his remarks on a fundraising event.

(Thanks Mindy for telling me about the story on Facebook)

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8 thoughts on “The Belgian Minister of Defense’s encounter with a “dangerous” blogger

  1. I was not aware of this incredible story (although I am living in Brussels, actually, but on travel these days). The question is whether the participants in this play have learned their lesson — especially the Minister of Defense, of course, but also the public! It would be interesting to understand how web2.0 is influencing democracy…

    And in the end, the blogger will not be the loser (despite losing her job) — nearly one thousand comments on Nathalie’s blog are testimony that the (blogging) community is moved by these events!

  2. Thanks for sharing; that’s a great example of the power (or “danger”) that lies in giving anybody a voice. I’m sure the blogger in this example will come out of it victorious, when all is said and done.

  3. I knew you would do something good with this! It brings up questions in my mind of the US legal system…and the “defamation of character” stuff. Are bloggers the new tabloids? could we be sued?

  4. Pingback: Will this phone change my life? « Bente Kalsnes’ blog

  5. Well said Karsten: The power (or “danger”) that lies in giving anybody a voice. That is the power of democracy.
    But this is also a story about abusing tax payers money. It great fun to go to New York and sing burlesque songs in Belgian bars, but then De Crem should have paid the trip himself.

    Jon Worth has written a heated blog post about the Belgian Minister of Defense as well.

  6. Pingback: More on the Belgian Defense Minister « Bente Kalsnes’ blog

  7. Pingback: Pieter Frans Norbert Jozef Raymond De Crem in a spot of bother

  8. Pingback: Lib Dig Pig #5 – Politics Unlimited | UK politics news

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