The Laundromat, a new Netflix movie about the Panama Papers leak, has been receiving very good press lately, but not everyone is a fan—some are downright fuming. In particular, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the chair of the Progressive Party and the man who replaced Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson after he resigned in disgrace in the wake of the leak.
Taking to Facebook, Sigurður said it was “hurtful and intolerable to be mixed up with this corruption case in The Laundromat. … Fake news is becoming a problem in the technical and information age. This is a challenge to the media world and the producers to always have the truth as a guiding light.”
Just how valid are his complaints?
Sigurður’s role in The Laundromat is very brief. During a scene in which the Panama Papers begins to break across the global media, as newscasters are reporting the story, one such broadcast uses a screenshot of a Time magazine article, “Iceland Appoints New Prime Minister In Wake Of Panama Papers Leak” that uses a photo of Sigurður Ingi. At the same time, the newscaster in question is saying, “Iceland’s Prime Minister has stepped down after being named in the papers.”
This brief moment, Sigurður Ingi believes, puts him within “the wrong context”. Which is strange, considering it is 100% factual. He was indeed appointed the new Prime Minister after Sigmundur Davíð resigned. Perhaps he believed the newscaster in The Laundromat was talking about him.
Could’ve been worse!
The irony is, if Netflix really wanted to paint Sigurður Ingi in a bad light, they could have mentioned that in the wake of the Panama Papers news, Sigurður Ingi had been very diligent about defending not just Sigmundur Davíð but also offshore accounts themselves, telling reporters that “it is complicated to have money in Iceland.” A poll taken the month before the leak on trust in different government ministers showed that only 3% of respondents had any confidence in the man at all.
Sigurður Ingi might not like that a photo of him with a factual headline was shown for half a second in a movie about the Panama Papers, but that doesn’t make it “fake news”.
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