Sweden’s military and foreign affairs officials have been left baffled after a Fox News show featured a “national security advisor” who was totally unknown to them.
Nils Bildt appeared on commentator the channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, billed as a “Swedish defence and national security advisor”.
The problem is, Swedish officials have no idea who the man is.
The Swedish Defence Ministry and Foreign Office told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter they knew nothing of him, the Associated Press reported.
Bildt is a founding member of a corporate geopolitical strategy and security consulting business with offices in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, according its website. His bio speaks to expertise on defence and national security issues, saying his experience includes serving as a naval officer, working for a Japanese official and writing books on issues ranging from investment and political climates to security issues in working in hostile environments.
“He is in not in any way a known quantity in Sweden and has never been part of the Swedish debate,” Swedish Defence University leadership professor Robert Egnell said by email to The Associated Press on Saturday. He and Bildt - also known then as Nils Tolling - were in a master’s degree program in war studies together at King’s College London in 2002-2003, and Bildt moved to Japan soon after, he said.
The executive producer of “The O’Reilly Factor” said Bildt was recommended by people the show’s booker consulted while making numerous inquiries about potential guests.
“After pre-interviewing him and reviewing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening,” executive producer David Tabacoff said in a statement.
The network said O’Reilly was expected to address the subject further on Monday’s show.
The AP reported that Bildt didn’t respond on Saturday to email inquiries; a person who answered the phone at his company agreed to relay one. He told Dagens Nyheter on Friday that he was a US based independent analyst, and Fox News had chosen its description of him.
“Sorry for any confusion caused, but needless to say I think that is not really the issue. The issue is Swedish refusal to discuss their social problems and issues,” he added in a statement to the news website Mediaite, explaining his profession as being an independent political adviser.
Many mocked the the mix-up on social media...
This isn’t the first time Fox News has been a little overenthusiastic about a guest’s credentials.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage was also apparently handed a cross-party promotion when he was introduced as “UK opposition leader” in November.
It’s also not the first time in recent weeks the Swedes have been left puzzling over American interpretations of what goes on in their country.
Donald Trump used his platform at a rally in Florida to shed light on a terrible terror attack to hit Sweden. The only problem is that no such attack ever took place.
His claims saw him thoroughly mocked online by the likes of JK Rowling.
UPDATE: Bill O’Reilly later said of the incident: “Finally tonight, The Factor Tip of the Day. Last week we did a segment on Sweden and its Muslim immigrant situation. Both sides were presented as always. After the segment some left wing people objected to one guest, Nils Bildt who was introduced by me as a ‘Swedish Defence and National Security Advisor.’
“The Swedish government also weighed in saying they’ve had no contact with Mr. Bildt. Now, we looked into the situation and the criticism is valid. It’s valid. Mr. Bildt does consulting work on terrorism, that’s true - but we should have clarified that he had no direct role with the Swedish government.
“To be fair, the information we gave you in the segment was accurate but in hindsight a more relevant guest should have been used on the anti-immigrant side. You should also know that before the segment was booked we asked the Swedish Ambassador to appear, he declined. That invitation stands.”