Friderikusz on the media

The time between December 23 and January 2 in Hungary is devoid of political news. As if life stopped. Of course, it is quite possible that in Hungary nothing is happening because there seems to be an unspoken rule that no conversation can be conducted, even with politicians, about politics. So come the trivia. Politicians have to say how they will spend their Christmas, how many people will be sitting around the table, who will eat what, or did they manage to buy all the Christmas presents. Conversations with historians center around Christmases of the past and their own recollections. This morning a couple, both formerly politicians, were promoting their cookbook. The wife wrote the receipes and the husband took the pictures. A few years back Nap-kelte visited all the leading politicians at home, starting with Ferenc Gyurcsány, continuing with Viktor Orbán, Ibolya Dávid, and Gábor Kuncze. The most amusing of these was the visit with the Orbáns in their new rather controversial house in the hills of Buda where the crew was instructed to show practically nothing of the house. The wife was modestly washing dishes in the kitchen, back to the cameras, not saying a word, and the kids were squeezed together, all five of them, alongside papa and mama, on the lower two treads of a staircase. That way there was no need to chase them around the house and show any of the surroundings. Dávid was proudly showing off her hats while the Gyurcsány family was having breakfast, kids running around, and Gyurcsány gave a brief tour of his study and library.

This kind of programming will be going on for over a week. The usual programs are scrapped and the moderator kindly informs us that "we will be back on January 8th as usual." Wow, how happy TV personalities would be in the United States if they could take almost two weeks off around this time of the year. Most of them are not that lucky. The day after Christmas the usual programming resumes in the U.S. while in Hungary people can watch old soaps and movies.

Given the dearth of news from Hungary I decided to return to my current reading: Sándor Friderikusz's book based on interviews with Zsófia Mihancsik. I understand that it is a best seller. The first edition is completely sold out already although it is not exactly cheap: 3,700 Ft. Almost twenty dollars. Mind you, it is fascinating reading and I assume a lot of people will especially enjoy some of the gossip from the world of the media. Friderikusz doesn't mince words about some well known figures, and I must admit that some of his very negative portraits came as a surprise to me. Of course, one must keep in mind that these portraits are one sided, seen through the eyes of a man who felt that he was very often wronged and maligned. I can well imagine the reaction in the Hungarian media: outrage. Friderikusz calls them ill-informed, untalented, cynical, ill-willed, easily bribed, intimidated, superficial. Should I continue?

I heard Friderikusz talking about his book, especially about his portraits of Gyurcsány and Orbán, with György Bolgár on Bolgár's talk show, "Megbeszéljük!" He observed that although a lot of articles appeared about his book not one of them quoted his passages about Gyurcsány and Orbán. They would rather talk about his very negative opinions of Tamás Vitray, the pioneer of early Hungarian television, and Tamás Mészáros, the publicist. Friderikusz is convinced and I suspect he is right that today's journalists behave exactly like their predecessors in the Kádár regime. It was the era of self-censorship. They instinctively knew what the limits were. They knew what was a safe topic and what was not. If you didn't want to jeopardize your career you avoided sensitive topics. Today there are a lot of journalists who are fully committed on the side of the right but few are ready to be too zealous on the left. The difference is that the former group doesn't even pretend to be impartial. They are totally committed. The world for them is either black or white. Either evil or good. The other side is evil, their side is good. It is that simple. On the liberal side the journalists try to be "more balanced." The partisans of the government are rather unhappy with this balancing act and accuse them of not defending the "right" side. Then there are those who are ready to serve the winning side. Friderikusz writes about one journalist who was paid by a politician to write something bad about him every day for a month. Nice journalist, nice politician. Or he talks about a certain Krisztián K. who started his journalistic career as a teenager by faking an interview with Friderikusz, an interview that never took place. The same guy later was in the employ of Fidesz and obviously was ready even to commit a crime for the cause. Whether on his own initiative or at someone's suggestion the young Krisztián "stole" a message off Friderikusz's cell phone that put an end to his being considered for the job of president of MTV. There are only a handful of liberal journalists who don't seem to be worried about their career in case Viktor Orbán wins the elections and who speak their own mind. Friderikusz belongs to this small group. 

The epilogue of the book was written by András Gerő, the historian and a friend of Friderikusz. According to Gerő, talent and ambition are not sought-after commodities in Hungary. All those who are less talented and who are where they are through "connections," a very important word in Hungary, certainly do everything in their power to make the lives of few very talented people miserable and put an end to their career. Today, says Gerő, "neither Friderikusz nor Mihancsik have a place in Hungarian public life. They are not making television or radio programs, they are not needed by anybody." Gerő is only partially right. With this book Friderikusz and Mihancsik are back.

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[sic]
Guest

“The time between December 23 and January 2 in Hungary is devoid of political news” Then you missed Orbán’s ‘interview’ on MNO? “Minél nagyobb a sötétség, annál közelebb van a világosság” (‘the greater the darkness, the more closely approaches the light’) http://www.mno.hu/portal/605617 Arriving at 2008. december 24. 15:00 it was just in time for Hungarians who celebrate their Christmas from around 16h00 on the 24th. As the ‘interviewer’ put it “kaphat ennél szebb ajándékot a karácsonyfa alá?” (is there any better Christmas present to put under the tree?)

Op
Guest

It’s always darkest before the dawn.
Well, I don’t know if Orban is “the dawn”, but it’s pretty dark in Hungary, can’t get much darker…

Eva Balogh
Guest

sic: “”The time between December 23 and January 2 in Hungary is devoid of political news” Then you missed Orbán’s ‘interview’ on MNO?”
I didn’t read it yesterday, only this morning. It is quite an interview. If I understood it right he consider himself the Hungarian Saviour. That’s quite something.

Eva Balogh
Guest

Op: ” Well, I don’t know if Orban is “the dawn”, but it’s pretty dark in Hungary, can’t get much darker…”
Well, well, things are not that bad. Look around in the stores. Or see how successfully the minority government fared in parliament. But, of course, if someone keeps repeating that everything is awful, people will feel awful. Hungarians are prone to feeling terrible and pessimistic anyway. Take a look at the United States. The situation here is much worse.

[sic]
Guest
The darkest hour is just before the dawn (as it appears often in Hungarian variations, though not a native phrase ‘az éj hajnal előtt a legsötétebb/napfelkelte előtt legsötétebb a hajnal’) means roughly, there is hope, even in the worst of circumstances. (Még a rosszabbnak tűnő helyzetben is történhet valami jó. Azaz, minden rosszban/helyzetben van valami remény.) It can also mean that problems always appear worse before there is a solution (roughly, ‘a cél elötti utolsó méterek a legnehezebb’). But the phrase used in the MNO piece was much stronger in message and tone. They stated that the ‘light’ would be inversely proportional (fordítottan arányos) with the darkness (‘”Minél nagyobb a sötétség, annál közelebb van a világosság”) – the ‘minél…,annál…’ construction is very clear. This is much stronger than awaiting the dawn (of a new era etc…). This is that we are awaiting the light. It is an almost a direct religious reference: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (http://scripturetext.com/john/14-6.htm). It means that he (Jesus/Orbán) is the light of the world. But He is the Way, and not just the light: ‘Then spake Jesus/Orbán again… Read more »
Eva Balogh
Guest

Sic: “It means that he (Jesus/Orbán) is the light of the world. But He is the Way, and not just the light: ‘Then spake Jesus/Orbán again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will h ave the Light of life.”‘ (http://multilingualbible.com/john/8-12.htm)”
This is not the first time Orbán obliquely compares himself to Christ. It is absolutely frightening. What’s wrong with this guy?

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I hope that everyone who takes part in blog has had a very merry Christmas and will have a prosperous and happy new year. I have waited until now to read the end of the Sándor Friderikusz the story before I made any comment. I now understand why there are so many half baked ‘hacks’ in journalism. To quote from your reported words of Mr Gerö **** “talent and ambition are not sought-after commodities in Hungary”. This is not only true in the area of “the Media” but in other fields of employment elsewhere. If Sándor Friderikusz is half as sharp and accurate in his observations as he appears to be in the reported text, this bodes ill for Hungary especially, where his old friend Viktor Orbán is concerned. From the three pieces it seems that a sea change came over Victor Orbán in 2006. My own observations of the man began about that time when I watched Orbán’s broadcast speech from the Astoria during the attempt to hi-jack the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising in 1956. I do not speak Hungarian so I do not know what he said, but his body language was at… Read more »
Op
Guest
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” If you can read the “holy books” with a straight face, without turning atheist, then you may have a problem. How can anyone in the 21st century still believe in the utter nonsense they call the Bible (not to mention the equally ridiculous Jewish and Moslim versions)? Seneca: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Do we still need the “fear of God” to rule people? Should we allow brainwashing sects to manipulate the dumb? Is “Hit Gyulekezet” (Faith Church) religion or propaganda? Why are Hungarians not allowed to believe in Hungary, but they are more than welcome to praise Israel like maniacs? The sooner we get rid of the MSZP/SZDSZ regime the better. We need something to believe in, and it’s not God, not multiculturalism, not globalization, not global warming, not the EU, it’s the future of our country. We need to restore real values, the worship of money and commercialism and leftover western garbage culture are not going to get us… Read more »
Eva Balogh
Guest

Op: “Why are Hungarians not allowed to believe in Hungary,”
Wow! nationalism as religion. Awful!

[sic]
Guest

@Op: You are clearly confused about the meaning (logical import) of my inclusion of that quote. It was to highlight Orbán’s use of religious iconography. You should also try to learn something about Orbán’s religious beliefs and his support for the organised churches. His plans lie very far now from a secular state. As for you your standard anti-Jewish undertone/overtone, coupled with mixing in the standard anti-western rhetoric, you mark yourself out as clearly an ill-informed, ill-educated MNO drone. It won’t be long before you are spouting stronger venom. But you are right, you don’t need God or a God-wannabe to sort out earthly, fiscal problems using isolationist pipe-dreams. Read the MNO article next, before you comment again.

Op
Guest
“As for you your standard anti-Jewish undertone/overtone, coupled with mixing in the standard anti-western rhetoric, you mark yourself out as clearly an ill-informed, ill-educated MNO drone.” You guys are not very good at reading (or writing), so let me help you. Let’s see your above quoted sentence. What do we learn from it? 1. You must be a graduate of the Gyurcsany School of Misinformation. 2. You either don’t understand or cannot handle the truth, so you try to discredit the messenger. 3. You pick words out of context and make a pathetic attempt at reinterpreting my post. Now let’s see how well you succeeded: 1. Calling me anti-Jewish is not nearly as offensive as you intended it, get familiar with what’s happening in the world: war (massacre) in Palestine goes largely unnoticed due to the influence of Jewish pressure groups. Collapse of the financial system, etc. Jews are not nearly as popular as they would like to be. I don’t care for political correctness, but still I can’t call myself anti-Jewish, individual Jews are sometimes tolerable, groups on the other hand are not. Ever. 2. I don’t know where did you come up with the “anti-western” bit, I only… Read more »
Eva Balogh
Guest

Op: “If you would like to see a good example for “ill-educated”, read the comment from E. B. just above yours. It’s beyond pathetic…”
No one asks you to read either Sic or E.B. You’re ill informed, I’m afraid on all levels.

Ricsi
Guest

Op
The classic reply “no one asks you to read either Sic or EB….. ”
If you post ,we read,if we read we reply –Simple ,clear freedom of speech/thought.(so hated by the ex-commies here)
On another note ,not all Jews are evil (EB)but ALL zionists are the route cause of most of our problems.There is a real difference,read Finklestein,Makow,Chomsky(yes,he is a leftie) for some clearer headed Jewish intellectuals.

Eva Balogh
Guest

Ricsi: “On another note ,not all Jews are evil (EB)”
What does this mean?

Ricsi
Guest

EB- Éva Balogh — problem ???

Ricsi
Guest

Interesting that you should highlight this from my comment !

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