ATV, a commercial station with an interest in politics, is expanding slowly. Until very recently all morning they broadcast only infomercials. A profitable solution for a struggling station. But slowly things have been changing. First they introduced an early morning political program called Jam. The original format was somewhat dull. Then the owners decided to beef up the program: three days a week serious political commentators conduct the interviews: on Monday András Bánó, Tuesday János Dési, and Wednesday György Bolgár. The original journalists are now in charge only of the Thursday and Friday programs. At the same time ATV introduced a new program called Jam Light with a different cast of characters directed at a female audience.
In the new Jam every day there is something called "Hírvita," a debate between journalists from the two sides of the political spectrum. Yesterday there was a debate that was definitely worth watching. It was an encounter one doesn't easily forget between Zsolt Gréczy and Tamás Pindroch. I have known Zsolt Gréczy for a number of years. Well, not personally but from the television screen. He used to be a journalist at Népszabadság and occasionally he was invited to participate in Nap-kelte's "Kereszttűz" (Cross-fire). Then one nice day I read that Gréczy had accepted the job of communications director in Ferenc Gyurcsány's prime minister's office. It is quite obvious that Gréczy is a great fan of Gyurcsány. Once the prime minister stepped down Gréczy decided to become active again as a journalist, and he faithfully writes a blog every day in stop.hu (http://www.stop.hu/blog/) called "At the Danube." He is doing what occasionally the government and MSZP forget to do–"toot their own horn." He tells day in and day out what the socialist-liberal government managed to accomplish in eight years. There is nothing to be ashamed of, says Gréczy.
I have also known his opponent, Tamás Pindroch. A few years ago he appeared on a weekly ATV program called "Debates of Young Journalists." I usually managed to sit through the program, but it took some discipline. It was straight out of the Fox shouting match playbook. Pindroch was the most aggressive and the noisiest. He worked at one point for a right-wing weekly called Reform, later he graduated to Magyar Nemzet, and lately he writes for the extreme right-wing Magyar Hírlap. He is hard to take, but he is also very difficult to corner. Well, Gréczy managed.
Gréczy's asset is that facts and figures are at his fingertips. He is nobody's fool and he has a fairly aggressive style himself. He is clear and concise and very quick on his feet. Pindroch came up with his usual accusations without being able to support them with facts. All the party propaganda that is not even acceptable from politicians but should never be propounded by any journalist worth his salt. Pindroch, however, was undaunted. He smugly announced that pensioners lived better in the last year of the Orbán government than they do now. There is only one problem. At that time the average pension was just over 30,000 forints while now it is 85,000. Even if we account for inflation the change is more than 30%. Pindroch kept insisting that it was the case while Gréczy kept repeating: "Tell me which is the bigger number, 30,000 or 85,000. Pindroch tried and tried and eventually collapsed, saying "but people feel that they are poorer now than they were in 2001." Quite an admission from Pindroch.
Meanwhile, the journalist in charge, András Bánó, thoroughly enjoyed himself. Anyone who knows Hungarian should take a look at the video available at ATV's website: http://atv.hu/cikk/20100201_a_fidesz_feljelenti_gyurcsany_ferencet