“He really doesn’t understand how wrong this is”

Johnny de Mol does not seem to understand how much his broadcaster colleague Gordon has overshot himself with his statements about Down’s syndrome, says experience expert Lars Duursma.


Lars Duursma, debate expert and podcast maker, has started the current discussion about ‘down entertainment’. His criticism of entertainment programs featuring people with Down’s syndrome has even reached Arjen Lubach’s ratings hit. As a result, Johnny de Mol also started to pay attention to it in his talk show HLF8.

Little disappointed

It is striking, because Johnny is a major supplier of programs about Down. The presenter did not respond substantively to the criticism. However, he was applauded by table guests for always doing a fantastic job and he stepped into the breach for Gordon, who is under fire for his statement: ‘If only we all had a little Down’.

A missed opportunity, Lars thinks. He says in his podcast The Communicados: “I was a bit disappointed, because – quite honestly – my first thought was: how good that Johnny de Mol is doing this, how good that he himself is vulnerable to discuss the criticism of the programs that brought so much fame.”

‘He doesn’t understand’

Johnny did not live up to that expectation of Lars, who has a brother with Down. “If that is your expectation, it was disappointing. He actually spent a lot of time defending the likes of Gordon. Gordon was also dismissed by Lubach as the one who said, ‘If only we all had Down.’”

He continues: “That was Johnny de Mol defending: ‘But we know what he means by it, don’t we?’ I thought: then I don’t think you really understand what kind of wrong comment this is.”


Lars tries to make Johnny understand again with another example. “Just imagine that every evening in the Netherlands you have a documentary about Esther Vergeer, the best and most famous wheelchair tennis player in the world.”

He continues: “And then imagine someone else is going to promote that program on a talk show by saying, ‘What great television this is! If only we were all in wheelchairs!’”

That is also totally misplaced, says Lars.


It also bothers Lars that Johnny allowed himself to be complimented so extensively, for example by Tina Nijkamp. “I am a bit disappointed with the program. It also immediately became clear that it should not be about the programs of Johnny de Mol himself.”

He continues: “All the guests at the table, from Tina Nijkamp to others, indicated that you can question the overkill, but yes: what Johnny de Mol himself had done, that was of course great, wasn’t it! That was good!”

Is he missing a little self-reflection with Johnny? “Yes.”

The Communicados

The podcast De Communicados: