Hungarian state media journalists admit they forged ‘atmosphere of fear’
Many employees of the Hungarian state television (MTVA) told the Guardian on the condition of anonymity that they had to broadcast even false stories to support PM Orbán’s agenda. Sometimes the editors just dictated a story, but nobody knew what their source was. The journalists feel sorry because they influenced people with false stories and so they helped government parties to gain a 2/3rd majority again in the elections last Sunday.
Lies to support government aims
‘I’d never experienced anything like that, even at MTVA: it was a clear lie’ – said a journalist about their report on the tragedy in Münster. Since it happened one day before the parliamentary election (April 8)
they had to report about it as an Islamist terrorist attack.
However, everybody knew by then that it was done by a German man having mental health problems.
Further false or incorrect messages they had to spread in Hungary included:
– millions of migrants are waiting at the border to enter Hungary even by using force
– there is a Soros-plan that aims to transform Hungary by letting in millions of migrants with the help of the opposition parties.
State media even had to fulfil character assassinations
Furthermore, they had to create Pavlov reflexes by linking together words like danger, terrorism, migrants, opposition, Soros and Brussels. Moreover, news programs always showed ‘archive footage from 2015 of migrants walking in Budapest, clashes between refugees and riot police at the Hungary-Serbia border, or terrorist attacks in Europe.’
Importantly, the state television channels also took part in character assassinations of Hungarian citizens who were openly critical of the government.
For example, one directive last year produced directly by the prime minister’s office targeted the activist Márton Gulyás, as well as a former Green party MP and a university professor. In Gulyás’s case, MTVA suggested that
he prepares unrest and clashes with the police.
However, it was clear that his intention was only to protest against the government non-violently.
In fact, MTVA receives 80bn HUF (EUR 258M) from the taxpayers in Hungary. A spokesperson from the government said that the government has no control over the media.
They thought that nobody watches them
As we already reported, according to Guardian correspondent Daniel Nolan’s report, the Orbán-governments restructured the domestic media landscape in Hungary. In this framework, the state media only repeats the main messages of Fidesz. Two state media employees said then to him that they completely lack any editorial independence and they have to work in a climate of fear. According to them, state media turns against everybody who is against the government or its agenda: opposition parties, EU, refugees or George Soros. They concluded that though
PM Orbán and his allies already obtained a majority of the media
Orbán wants it all.
In fact, after the third consecutive supermajority obtained by Fidesz, last Sunday many critical papers and radios already closed. For example, the final edition of the daily, Magyar Nemzet, one of the few outlets to run critical stories before the election, was on Wednesday. Furthermore, according to the Guardian, there is a fear that
PM Orbán is going to move against the remaining islands of critical media.
State television journalists stated that they know about some colleagues thinking of resigning after the election result.
“I felt terrible, because I could see that we can and did influence people,”
said one. “Some of us had reassured ourselves that nobody watches us, that we don’t matter. It turns out that we do – awfully.”
Featured image: hirado.hu