BROOKE GLADSTONE: In this era of reality television, even the highest reaches of international diplomacy may be rudely exposed. Recently Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the subject of a fly on the wall documentary filmed during his six month stint as head of the European Union. His motive -- to give voters insight into the secretive world of European decision-making. But he unwittingly cast his fellow EU politicians as bit players in his own reality TV show. Claire McCarthy wrote about the ensuing scandal for the Economist. Claire, welcome to the show!
CLAIRE McCARTHY: Thank you, Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Okay, so let's face it - the whole thing is delicious. Viewers were suddenly close up and personal with the hitherto unseen snottiness of diplomats behind closed doors. Let's start with the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer -- what happened to him?
CLAIRE McCARTHY: Well poor Joschka Fischer was exposed as a man who had several different opinions about the future of the European Union and more particularly about whether Turkey should join or not. Now Turkey's possible membership of the European Union is one of the most difficult problems for-- that the Europeans are facing at the moment. Fischer said we must find an alternative membership. They can never be full members. Now-- stress on the "never."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yeah.
CLAIRE McCARTHY:You know the Turks have been told for 12, 15 years that one day they will reach the Holy Grail. One day they will be members of the European Union, and here suddenly is the foreign minister of one of their greatest allies who in public supports them saying in private-- Uh-uh - it won't go. They can't be members.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So let's see - we got the Germans were hit and the French--
CLAIRE McCARTHY:The Germans were hit, the French were hit--and the Russians were also hit, in one of these corridors behind the scenes, Vladimir Putin said "Journalists? They're all bandits. All of them." Now that's not something that will go down very well with the press at home, is it?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So what are the repercussions of, of a slip of the lip on television?
CLAIRE McCARTHY:In public, all the diplomats and all the government ministers all across Europe are saying no, no, no - this is all forgotten -we're all great friends - we're great buddies. In private they're saying that it will take an awful long time before we can trust the Danes to keep their mouths shut [LAUGHTER] in future.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So what do you think the lasting diplomatic repercussions of the film will be?
CLAIRE McCARTHY:Before this happened, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister, did such a tremendous job with the Danish European Union presidency; it really looked as if he could walk on water, and there has been some talk that at some stage in the future there will be a permanent president who would hold that post for perhaps two or three years at a time. He did such a good job during his six months that people have said he might possibly be the leader in the future. He scuppered those chances. He is no longer the cool clean hero. And, the other repercussion is that he's created very bad feelings within his own government. This film showed everybody except Mr. Fogh Rasmussen in a very bad light. He looked like a hero -- effective and efficient. Everybody else looked pretty stupid.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What do you think he expected from this sort of no holds barred exposure?
CLAIRE McCARTHY:Well Mr. Fogh Rasmussen had expected to endear the European Union rather more to the, to the Danish public at large. The Danes are some of the most lackluster and most lukewarm European Union supporters who are already members. They don't want to be part of the single currency and they've several other reservations besides. And Anders Fogh Rasmussen wanted to make the European Union more popular.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Well, if the rest of the world is anything like the United States, there's nothing like a, a reality TV show to focus the attention at least for a while.
CLAIRE McCARTHY: Certainly not, and this was really a little bit like a cross between Candid Camera and a Republican Convention -- the gray men in gray suits who we normally don't ever see. I thought it was wonderful! But I think this is possibly a "one of." I can't imagine any other government being foolish enough to trust themselves to a fly on the wall cameraman. [LAUGHTER]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Claire McCarthy, thank you very much.
CLAIRE McCARTHY: Thank you, Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Claire McCarthy is a correspondent for the Economist, and we spoke to her on the line in Copenhagen. [THEME MUSIC] 58:00
BOB GARFIELD:That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Janeen Price, Katya Rogers, Megan Ryan and Tony Field; engineered by Dylan Keefe and Rob Christiansen, and edited-- by Brooke. We had help from Blake Carlton. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl.
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