Denmark Hits Back at Fox for Slamming 'Socialist' Country Where 'Nobody's Incentivized to Do Anything'

Delegates arrive on a canal boat in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the opening of the European Council's conference on the reform of the European Human Rights System on April 12. Bax Lindhardt/AFP/Getty Images

Denmark has hit back against a Fox anchor who compared the country to Venezuela in terms of joblessness and taxes, reminding her that Danes may actually be better off than many Americans.

The contentious segment, which aired on Fox Business last week, featured host Trish Regan speaking dramatically about the "reality of socialism" as embodied by the current crisis in Venezuela.

She then segued into lambasting Denmark, which is often touted as a successful model of a nation with welfare and state-provided social services, and concluded that "no one wants to work" there.

"Denmark, like Venezuela, has stripped people of their opportunities," she said.

The verbal lashing did not sit too well with Danes, whose government does not actually advertise the country as a socialist state. Regan's gibes that "all the kids graduating from school in Denmark…want to start cupcake cafés" and "nobody's incentivized to do anything because they're not going to be rewarded" caught the attention of the nation's media, and politicians were quick to question her research.

"So Danes don't want to work?" Kristian Jensen, Denmark's foreign minister wrote on Twitter, attaching the most recent comparison of employment rates across the world. He added: "11 places better than U.S. in OECD statistics! We are working much more than Americans and at the same time ranking as the world's best in Work-Life-Balance."

During her segment, Regan cited a statistic claiming that in 2013 the majority of Danes were out of work in all but three of the country's 98 municipalities. "You should come to Denmark if you dare be confronted with facts," Jensen wrote in response, with a smiling emoji and the Danish flag.

"Dear @trish_regan, we did some quick research on #Denmark 's global rankings," Lars Gert Lose, Denmark's ambassador to the U.S. wrote on Twitter, with a list of factoids about the social and economic prosperity of the Northern European country. "Useful context to your story abt state of affairs in my country."

The diplomat invited Regan to visit Denmark for herself, assuring her that the embassy "would love to assist…although lack of cupcake cafés probably will be disappointing."

The embassy and Denmark's Foreign Ministry have since reposted the ambassador's comments on Twitter. Denmark's opposition party, the Social Democrats, also responded to Regan's claim that "there's something rotten in Denmark" by quipping on Twitter that "there is something rotten at Fox News."

The post featured a vlog-style commentary of Regan's sweeping claims and told her that "pretty much everything that you have said is untrue."

Regan briefly addressed the controversy in her broadcast on Tuesday, saying she wanted to "clarify" but not retract her reporting. "Just to be clear, I was never implying that conditions in Denmark were similar in any way to the current tragedy on the ground there in Venezuela," she said. "I was merely pointing out, using reports from The Atlantic, The Independent and other publications, that socialism is not the way."

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The explanation is unlikely to satisfy many Danes, including center-right Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who has insisted that his country should not be mislabeled as socialist.

"I know that some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism," he said at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2015. "Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy."

He added, "The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security for its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish."