ASHLAND A Norwegian journalist made a three-day stop in Ashland over the weekend after a recent Washington Post story piqued his interest in northeastern Kentucky.
The Post’s story centered around AK Steel Ashland Works’ closing and its impact, but also focused on President Donald Trump’s effect on the steel industry. With Trump’s backing, tariffs on steel and aluminum imports provided a temporary boost, The Washington Post reported, but it was short-lived — and it never directly helped AK’s Ashland Works.
Fredrik Graesvik, of TV Norway 2, is a seasoned journalist who tackles a wide array of subjects. He’s spent ample time in the Middle East covering war zones, and since March 2017, he’s lived in and worked from Washington. When he receives a call from his boss in Oslo, Norway, he darts to the location of interest — as long as it’s a feasible request.
“My boss, I’m still trying to tell her (the United States) is the size of all of Europe,” Graesvik said in a thick accent while peering out the window of The Delta Hotel by Marriott ground-floor window. “Like, the mass shooting in Las Vegas (which occurred in October 2017), she called me before 10 and said, ‘Can you be there before 3?’
“That’s a five-hour flight, if there is a flight!” Graesvik added with a chuckle. “No, I can’t do that.”
Graesvik recently stayed a week in California as the state battled wildfires.
He ultimately ended up in Ashland because The Washington Post put it on his radar.
“I was supposed to come before the (gubernatorial) election, but I was sent to California for the wildfires,” he said.
Graesvik’s mission, he said, was to talk to voters who support Trump in Smalltown, America, so to speak, like Ashland. He intended to gather interviews to capture an accurate depiction of what America is truly like.
“You can’t do that in Washington or New York; that’s not what America really is,” Graesvik said.
He specifically wanted to come across a few Trump voters and discover why he was supported in 2016 and if he’ll still be supported come the 2020 presidential election.
“The interest in American politics with Trump in office is enormous because everyone back home, people don’t understand how you could elect a man like that to lead your country,” Graesvik said. “My mission is to talk to Trump voters to explain why.”
Graesvik, 52, is well-known in his Scandinavian homeland. He’s racked up 61,000 Twitter followers and has been an actor and writer in addition to his journalistic adventures.
“I love the adrenaline,” he said. “It’s like constant pressure.”
In war zones, he said “it’s a rush being there and surviving it.”
In his current gig, he said the rush is similar because of jetting from place to place to capture the best story.
Graesvik’s first true taste of America occurred in the late 1980s in Dekalb, Illinois, where he studied collegiately at Northern Illinois University. He quickly sensed similarities between Dekalb of three decades ago and present-day Ashland.
“If someone put me to sleep in the ’80s and woke me up here today, other than the cars, I wouldn’t notice a difference (in time periods),” Graesvik said.
Today, Graesvik will land in the Oval Office and “pop a few questions to Trump” as he put it regarding Jens Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian Prime Minister who is the Secretary General of NATO.
Graesvik plans to stay on top of all Trump-related storylines, from possible impeachment to a potential second term, from now until next November … and whatever else pops up in between.
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