Fox News is facing some scrutiny this weekend after welcoming a supposed expert onto The O’Reilly Factor Thursday to discuss Sweden’s current situation with immigration. Nils Bildt appeared during the segment and was billed as a “Swedish Defense And National Security Advisor,” which all seems fine until you hear that Swedish authorities have no idea who the man is and is “not in any way a known quantity in Sweden” according to The Guardian.
It all stems from Donald Trump’s comments about Sweden during his campaign rally in Florida, citing a false report from Fox News to talk about a fake terror attack in the nation. This baffled many in the nation and prompted the former Swedish PM to ask what Trump had been smoking.
Following the rally, discussions raged on both sides and Sweden became quite the center of attention. This led to the segment on Fox News Thursday night and the introduction of Bildt into the picture according to The Guardian:
Following Trump’s comments, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly convened an on-air discussion on Thursday over Swedish immigration and crime between a Swedish newspaper reporter and a man identified on screen and verbally as a “Swedish defence and national security advisor”, Nils Bildt.
Bildt linked immigration to crime and social problems in Sweden, lamented what he described as Swedish liberal close-mindedness about the downsides of welcoming newcomers and said: “We are unable in Sweden to socially integrate these people.”
But soon after the segment, the Swedish defense ministry claimed they “knew nothing” in a comment to Dagens Nyhete about Bildt and that he was not a familiar figure in the debate in Sweden. In fact, according to The Guardian, his lack of presence in Sweden might just be the tip of the iceberg:
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 biography 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 with 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 name change occurred after Bildt emigrated to the United States according to The Intercept, with the publication adding the reasons for the change remain mysterious. Bildt was reached for comment by Dagens Nyheter, offering the defense that he was “an independent analyst based in the USA” before placing the blame on Fox News according to The Intercept:
It was a Fox News producer, Nils Bildt said, who made the decision to give him the official-sounding title of Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor. “I had no personal control over what title they chose,” Bildt wrote.
And to add more layers to this mystery, Anne-Sofie Näslund — the reporter opposite Bildt during the O’Reily segment — reports that Bildt was reportedly arrested for committing a violent crime in 2014. Something that’s quite interesting considering the topic of their discussion from Thursday.
In a statement provided to The Intercept by Fox News, O’Relly Factor producer David Tabacoff offered an explanation for Bidlt’s title and how he ended up on the show in the first place:
“Our booker made numerous inquiries and spoke to people who recommended Nils Bildt and after pre-interviewing him and reviewing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening.”
The statement adds that The O’Reilly Factor will address the situation on Monday’s show. Meanwhile, the president continued to cite Sweden while discussing immigration and included it in his recent CPAC speech on Friday.
UPDATE – 1/28: On Monday night, O’Reilly issued an on-air correction to explain that the “Swedish Defense Adviser” wasn’t affiliated with the Swedish government all:
“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 Defense 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.”
You can watch the clip below.