The right-wing media in turmoil

At the moment the government’s only absolutely reliable mouthpieces are Magyar Televízió and Magyar Rádió. Lajos Simicska’s media empire is still in transition, and the government’s new media complex has not yet been launched. So, the media confusion on the right is considerable, which is bad news for a government that thinks that the real key to success is communication. As it stands now, MTV’s new all-news channel is a flop, and Fidesz for all practical purposes is boycotting Hír TV, Simicska’s television station.

After Simicska publicly broke with his old friend Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the true Orbán loyalists left Magyar Nemzetthe flagship of the pro-government media, most likely knowing that Viktor Orbán was already working on a replacement of the media conglomerate financed by Simicska and that they would have no difficulty finding jobs in the future. Meanwhile, rumor had it that part owner and editor-in-chief of Magyar Nemzet and Hír TV, Gábor Liszkay, might be taking over Napi Gazdaság, a financial paper, transforming it into a full-coverage daily in the spirit of Magyar Nemzet.

The first issue of Napi Gazdaság under the editorship of Gábor Liszkay

The first issue of Napi Gazdaság under the editorship of Gábor Liszkay

The recent history of Napi Gazdaság is intriguing. It shows how easily Viktor Orbán can pull strings with allegedly independent enterprises if and when he needs their cooperation. In 2013 Századvég Intézet purchased Napi Gazdaság, which until then had been an independent organ. Now that the government and Fidesz need a daily paper, it was enough for Viktor Orbán to call on Századvég and ask the management to sell the paper to Gábor Liszkay and Árpád Habony, about whom I’ve written earlier. Indeed, as of yesterday Napi Gazdaság belongs to Liszkay, and the group of people who left Magyar Nemzet have followed him to his new venture. I understand that even the typesetters and the proofreaders are from Simicska’s paper. At Napi Gazdaság changes have already taken place. For example, the paper became two pages longer. After a few months its name will also be changed.

While preparations for the establishment of genuine pro-government media have been underway, Fidesz was also working on punishing Simicska for his disloyalty. It wasn’t enough to entice Magyar Nemzet‘s and Hír TV’s staff. There was also talk in town about Fidesz politicians boycotting Hír TV. Fidesz denied the charges. As a result, there was quite an exchange between János Lázár and one of the editors of Hír TV, in which the editor called Lázár a liar. Well, the truth is that Antal Rogán didn’t use the word “boycott,” but his words strongly indicated that it would not be advisable for a Fidesz politician to accept an invitation from Hír TV. In the past, Rogán said in his interview on M1, there were “compulsory appearances” on Hír TV and “mandatory interviews” in Magyar Nemzet. From here on Fidesz politicians “can go if they want.” It will be their personal decision. Boycott or no boycott, if I were a Fidesz politician I wouldn’t rush to accept an invitation from Hír TV or Magyar Nemzet.

László Kövér, right after the falling out between Orbán and Simicska, declared in an interview with Magyar Hírlap, a paper that espouses Jobbik ideology and that lately has become a favorite organ of Fidesz politicians who can’t or don’t want to have any dealings with Hír TV, that Magyar Nemzet and Hír TV are “opposition organs.” What does “opposition” mean here? In my reading, Kövér thought that the paper moved too far to the left and often “criticized the government unjustly.” But lately, especially after the Tapolca by-election when Fidesz at last realized that Jobbik is a threat, the party line changed. Now the charge is that Lajos Simicska is moving over to Jobbik and is offering his services to this neo-Nazi party. Surely, this is another Fidesz lie. I have been diligently reading Magyar Nemzet‘s op-ed pages and there is not a morsel of truth in this allegation.

Sándor Csintalan, who works for Lánchíd Rádió, another Simicska concern, in a Facebook note accused Rogán of losing touch with reality. Csintalan himself has quite a past, and he has few if any friends among politicians and commentators on the left, but this time I think he is right. Csintalan pointed out that “when Jobbik wins, an event you do a lot for, then thank your pals, Habony and Vajna, and look into the mirror. Stop and think a little before it’s too late.” Even if one doesn’t believe Csintalan, one should read László Seres’s short piece in HVG. He quotes Rogán as saying that “one must be blind not to see that Magyar Nemzet, Hír TV, and Lánchíd Rádió are getting closer and closer to the extreme right.” Seres responded: “We must be blind because we don’t see it.”

Yes, Magyar Nemzet became critical of the Orbán government, but it is not the only right-wing organ that carries such opinion pieces. Even such old loyalists as András Bencsik or Zsolt Bayer, the organizers of the Peace Marches, have become disillusioned. Their articles in Demokrata and Magyar Hírlap criticize Fidesz because it has abandoned its ideals. They are disappointed, but they still talk longingly of old Fidesz, especially during the period between 1998 and 2002 when Fidesz had a mission: to create a “bourgeois democracy,” a “polgári Magyarország.”

Now that the shackles of party restraints have been removed, the more talented members of Magyar Nemzet are putting out a good right-of-center paper. If it finds an audience, it will provide some real competition to papers on the left. Tomorrow I will sample some op-ed pages I especially found revealing, offering insights into the mood of former Orbán loyalists.

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stone
Guest
“Now the charge is that Lajos Simicska is moving over to Jobbik and is offering his services to this neo-Nazi party. Surely, this is another Fidesz lie. I have been diligently reading Magyar Nemzet‘s op-ed pages and there is not a morsel of truth in this allegation.” Wow, Simicska really fooled you. It takes time to replace the whole staff at a newspaper, Simicska can’t fire everyone at once. Thus the people working there are not yet the Jobbik footsoldiers that Simicska will eventually put in place around late 2017. On the other hand you seem very tolerant of the presence of this “neo-Nazi” party in the Simicska media. You do not seem to mind the dozens of Jobbik appearances in HirTV, you do not notice page-long interviews in Magyar Nemzet (with Gabor Vona for example), you do not notice how one of Simicska’s employees became the head of N1TV, a TV directly owned by Jobbik, you do not notice how most of Simicska’s billboards had Jobbik posters on them during the Tapolca election, you do not notice Jobbik’s increased campaign activity (who funded them?…) compared to the other district just a few km away, where Jobbik got around 15%.… Read more »
Morningstar
Guest
Is this topic so uninteresting? Nobody commented so far. Let me be the first: We should use logic to understand the situation: Simicska said, he will conduct “total war against Fidesz” In total war the goal is the complete destruction of the enemy The sum of vote % parties must always come out to 100% If the 45% Fidesz had disappears or weakens, by default the % of another party has to increase for the total to remain 100% For Simicska to destroy Fidesz at an election he has to increase the % of another party, to achieve his goal This party could be Jobbik or MSZP/left, Simicska must pick between these two The Tapolca election is a strong indication that he is picking Jobbik, if Simicska gave full support to MSZP/left there would have been evidence of it. We can assume that Simicska understands basic math so he knows how percentages work. So in all likelihood, Simicska picked Jobbik for now. But this does not mean he cannot change his mind until 2018, a lot of things can happen. Maybe he will support MSZP after all. We know his goal is to make the Fidesz percentage go down, but… Read more »
Member

If Simicska wanted to cause the most damage he would write from the viewpoint of a concerned and disappointed friend of Fidesz telling a few home-truths – without endorsing the alternatives.

Report each and every day on leadership tensions and internal disagreements.
Analyse every decision from the winners and losers in Fidesz to promote more discord.
How Fidesz policies hurt the rural poor the most;
How Fidesz corruption makes day-to-day life harder for ordinary Hungarians;
How Fidesz need a stay in opposition to find their way;

I’m sure he knows the business of destroying political parties better than we do.

Bitstream Fractalized
Guest
Guest

So you think it’s good news – others may not be so sure!

Webber
Guest

According to the article you proviced, Paks still has not been approved. I quote: ‘Hungary is still in talks with the EC on two other issues that need to be clarified…, concerning competition law and procurement. Consultations on these issues could take “as much as” another six months.’

Member

It took over a week or more to clarify this point. So far there was not a word on the Russians actually agreeing on the changes. Finally I found a weak reference on that: “… “The ESA’s analysis showed that their requests had been taken into account, notably concerning the duration of the contract and possibility to diversify the fuel supply,” Ms Itkonen said. The revised contract had also been signed by Russian authorities.” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/985b0cca-e82a-11e4-9960-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Y2r7rlvN
Now the discussion started to refocus on the actual costs and safety of the nuclear waste disposal facility. Not a single word again on reprocessing. http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/hungary_nuclear_waste_storage_facility_would_cost_huf_600-700_bn.29484.html The best way around is to keep people in the dark? How long?

spectator
Guest

A good news, indeed!

But as you see, János Lázár a way ahead of you, already he has the new Fidesz uniform prepared just for him!
Looks handsome, isn’t he?
comment image

Webber
Guest

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank has demanded a “correction” from Hungarian National Bank because it deems Bank President Matolcsy’s use of funds to purchase property and artworks and to start a university to be a violation of national bank treaty regulations. If some solution isn’t found, the deficit will be judged to have grown by the amount spent by Matolcsy (340 bn. forints), and Hungary might then go over the 3% deficit maximum set by the Maastricht Treaty.
It’s just success after success for the Fidesz government.

Bini
Guest

Who cares? It’s in the past. The properties were purchased over market price, the kickbacks have been paid, the main goals were thus achieved. Investors care about the future not the past. So what’s the downside for Fidesz? Nothing as usual.

Paul
Guest

This is in no way intended as a criticism of Éva of HS, but I am utterly confused by the whole media situation in Hungary. I no longer have any real idea which papers and TV/radio stations are pro-Orbán, or left-wing, or new centre-right, or pro-Jobbik.

And I suspect I’m not the only one.

Peter Karlsson
Guest

Eva, in the penultimate paragraph, you’ve written Magyar Nemzet again, instead of Magyar Hírlap, which is where Zsolt Bayer’s articles are published.

dezső
Guest

Cmon, TV2 is also pro-Orban.

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