John de Mol is excited, you can see that immediately.

His hand trembles slightly, he squeezes his fingers into a fist.

Is it because the media mogul is "really shocked" by what he just saw?

Or that he knows a lot more about sexual assaults in the talent show "The Voice of Holland" he invented than he admits when interviewed by journalist Tim Hofmann?

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

  • Follow I follow

The Dutch did not watch traditional television on Thursday evening to form an opinion.

They clicked on the new episode of "Boos" on YouTube, the multi-award-winning online program of the public broadcaster NPO.

The show had unsettled the country and its media scene days earlier.

It led to prosecutorial investigations, the talent show was put on hold and the Netherlands is now having its own MeToo debate.

There had been rumors of abusive behavior for a long time

As of Friday morning, "Boos" (translated: "angry") had been viewed more than seven million times - a record in every respect.

Apparently there had been rumors of abusive behavior for a long time.

But the editors of the online magazine went after them systematically for the first time after two women had turned to them with serious allegations.

Last summer, she called on employees and participants in a "talent show" to come forward if they had experienced or observed inappropriate behavior.

It quickly became clear that it was about "The Voice of Holland".

19 women were spoken to about the band leader's sexually intimidating behavior, and 15 women reported similar things about a director of the show, Boos reports.

Other allegations involved another coach and assaulting children on The Voice Kids.

The band leader is Jeroen Rietbergen, a 50-year-old musician. He has been part of the permanent staff since the beginning, since 2010, and decided which songs the candidates would perform. In "Boos" several women have their say anonymously. One reports that he told her not to "act so horny" on the show, otherwise he would "jump" her. Other women say he suddenly made lewd and vulgar remarks and even sent photos of his privates. Fearing for their career, they would not have dared to complain about it. Rietbergen himself is said to have said that candidates would not be believed if they tried.

Not only does the bandleader play a key role on the show, he's also closely associated with the de Mol family. Since 2008 he was in a relationship with Linda de Mol, the producer's sister, who is also known as an actress and show host. When she was first confronted with the allegations against him last week, she ended the relationship, saying she "didn't know anything" about all the dirty stuff and was now living through a "horrible nightmare".

In an interview with "Boos", John de Mol admits that in April 2019 he found out about suggestive text messages that Rietbergen had sent to a candidate.

At first he was speechless, then angry and immediately called the musician to him.

If something like that happened again, he would throw him out himself, he warned him.

Neither before nor after had he ever heard of such an attack, de Mol asserts, neither in relation to his "brother-in-law" nor to any other employee of the show - not even from Marco Borsato.

Keywords: