Another “traitor”: Fidesz gutter journalists attack Gábor Török

While the views of István Stumpf and Péter Tölgyessy, discussed in earlier posts, were ignored by the Fidesz media, this was not the case with Gábor Török, the well-known political commentator whose analyses have been closer to Fidesz than to the liberal side. Török, in a remarkable interview given to Magyar Nemzet, no longer even tries to hide his sympathies with the “national liberal, conservative liberal” side. I agree with him that there is no such thing as absolute political neutrality, but what is unacceptable is financial “dependence.” Unfortunately, in Hungary by now there are practically no independent political commentators in this sense of the word. Whether Török is truly independent or not, as he claims, we don’t know, but a lot of people accuse him of being in the pay of Fidesz. I personally doubt it.

How does Török see Fidesz, at least from 2002 on, a year he considers crucial in the recent political history of the country? He claims, I believe mistakenly, that prior to 2002 Fidesz was a party whose policies were driven by principles, that the unexpected loss at the 2002 election drove Viktor Orbán and his friends toward cynical and perhaps more realistic politics of sheer power. Since then party decisions have been driven by public opinion polls. “If I could change anything in Hungarian political life in the last few years it would be the results of the 2002 election,” Török said in the interview. It was at that time that Fidesz came to the conclusion that “power politics” should be placed ahead of principles and that the left discovered that with empty promises one can win elections.

Once the conversation moved to the present situation Török, who in the past had been extraordinarily careful to be “balanced,” a habit that earned him a lot of scorn from the liberals, decided to abandon his customary “neutrality” and show a much less forgiving side. I guess the Orbán regime’s many unacceptable political moves left him no choice. He now sees Fidesz as a party that cannot return to its former value-driven politics. “Fidesz will either be successful for years to come or will hit the wall…. The system that was built up in the last twenty-five years is extraordinarily stable…. There is no János Lázár or Antal Rogán who can unseat [Orbán]…. There will be a political right after Orbán, but it will have nothing in common with the present system.”

As for future prospects, Török believes that “the end cannot be anything but a total collapse,” which might be closer than we think. Even the 2018 election cannot be taken for granted. What if Fidesz is still the largest party but would have to form a coalition government either with Jobbik or with MSZP? Orbán in this case would find himself in an unenviable situation.

And then there are the domestic issues, which are becoming serious. The refugee crisis for the time being conceals the brewing domestic dissatisfaction, but how long will the Hungarian people believe that those beyond the fence are “dangerous zombies”? There are already signs of skepticism. When the scare tactics fade, a new miracle weapon will be needed. But what can follow? As for Viktor Orbán’s warlike rhetoric, “one day it will run counter to the actual state of affairs when even the semblance of rationality can no longer be maintained.” Fidesz politicians don’t seem to sense the danger and, since there is no strong opposition, they are not forced to offer “good governance.” Orbán’s system worked well as long as Orbán and Simicska cooperated. “Since their relationship was severed the whole system is crumbling.”

"Dirty Dozen's editorial: "Should we expel from Schengen?"

Dirty Dozen’s editorial: “Should we expel Belgium from Schengen?” / 888.hu

It was this interview that outraged the Fidesz loyalist political commentators, especially Gábor G. Fodor of Századvég, who became editor-in-chief of government financed 888.hu, “a political tabloid” specializing in gutter journalism. The title of G. Fodor’s article is “From ass-licking A: Gábor Török, our personal favorite.” In it G. Fodor carries out the usual character assassination of those who dare to express any criticism of Fidesz and the Orbán government. G. Fodor, who in the past had friendly political discussions with Török, now calls his colleague “a close political advisor of Jobbik.” G. Fodor accuses Török of being the man who is trying to bring Lajos Simicska, the former Fidesz oligarch, and Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, together. Proof? It’s not necessary. The only thing we know about any possible connection between Simicska and Vona is that on some recent public occasion they had a 10-15-minute conversation. But this is how Fidesz gutter journalism operates.

The story wouldn’t be complete without Török also being accused of having some affinity with Ferenc Gyurcsány, the devil incarnate. So, while Török is trying to forge an alliance between the extreme right and Simicska, his view of the “migrant crisis” is identical to Gyurcsány’s. “The fundamental structure of his thoughts is in no way different from any one of the left-wing critics. The same fiction, the same mythological simplicity.”

Now it is up to us to decide whether Török is a socialist-liberal talking head or a man who is trying to convince Lajos Simicska to finance an extreme right-wing party.

March 26, 2016
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Member

Denuntiatio Praecox
Maybe this GFG entity (bescarfed, below) has done us all a favor, provoking GT to awake from and shake free of the sentimental delusion that Orban (trench-coated, further below) was ever honest, decent, or a player-by-the-rules.
Maybe the scales are at last beginning to fall from many eyes.
comment image
comment image

webber
Guest

Maybe.
But I heard and saw Török for many years, and after a time started turning him off).
He supported Fidesz (Éva, that is indisputable), and I don’t see why he did it if he was not paid to do so (Through certain projects, perhaps, certain stipends? Where else is his wealth from? Explain that to me someone. Occasional media appearances as an “expert” do not normally pay in Hungary.)
So I don’t give a damn about his pearls of wisdom now.
He served Mammon. He supported Fidesz. We all could see that.
If he was paid to do so, then he was an intellectual prostitute.
If he was not paid, he was an idiot who actually believed the b.s.
Either way, I’m not curious about his views.
I’m sorry for him, just a little, that now he is a target of attack – and he’s the target because he used to be their man.
But where was his sorrow when others were the target? Where was his denunciation then? And let’s be honest about what he has said – it’s still very soft.

Gabor Halmai
Guest

Eva, you’re right that GT misstakenly claims that Fidesz ended its principle driven politics in 2002. Of course it happened much earlier, around 1994, when they gave up their liberal stand for the sake of getting chance on the conservative side empted by the disappearance of MDF. The only difference between the powerdriven Fidesz of 1998 and 2010 is that in their first term in power they did not have the 2/3 majority. Since GT isn’t stupid he knows this very well. About his independence. I agree with you, Eva that there is no proof of his ties to Jobbik. Ones he admitted having conversations with Vona, but this isn’t a proof. However, there is one proof of GT’s lack of financial independence, he failed to admit. During discussions about President Laszlo Solyom behaviour he took part protecting the head of state he did forget to mention that he was on the pay roll of the Presidential Office.

reparetekmogyoro
Guest

By now, Török has been on the payroll of just about everybody.

Török was a municipal council member in the small village of Aszófő, close to Tihany, on the Northern shore of Balaton. As an “urban intellectual” he could not have possibly win a mandate without the assistance of the local Fidesz chapter (even if we talk about a few hundred votes at most).

Moreover Török established a consultancy company together with Csaba Poór who is an active Szeged-based fidesznik political background player.

Török is also very active in MLSZ, the national football association headed by Sandor Csanyi (Török also is on Csanyi’s retainer), which is a cause very dear to the heart of Orban.

Has Török ever been directly paid by Fidesz? I’m not sure, maybe not.

Has Török received business because he had (or based on the) very good connections to Fidesz and fideszniks? You bet.

That said, Török’s criticism is real and should be interpreted as a symptom: the smart people have started to hedge their bets.

Gabor Toka
Guest
For the first five-ten years of his career in the mass media Torok raised the standards of political commentary in the country quite significantly. When Orban returned to power in 2010, he too found his media appearances quite restricted, and presumably had to rethink how he makes a living and so forth after his work for Solyom had ended, and he had settled for family life and serving on a village council far from Budapest. As a result of either this or sheer aging, he got less hard-working as a pundit, maybe intellectually less demanding of himself, some mannerism appeared in his writings, and the differences between his political taste and left-liberals got much clearer. All this remain there to see in this interview with MNO too, but it would be unfair to attribute them to payrolls and the like. This is someone who has always been clear – in any case clearer than by far the most of his colleagues, and in this sense “exemplary” among Hungarian pundits – about his payroll commitments and political taste. I first met him in the late 1990s, when he was a full-time employee of the SZDSZ parliamentary faction (which is duly listed… Read more »
Gabor Toka
Guest

Sorry, I messed up sg in the text. Correctly: “a source of financial independence for some political analysts – maybe for Torok too … – is doing consultancy for banks and companies”

webber
Guest

In short – if I accept your narrative – , the SOB knew precisely what he was doing when he started supporting Fidesz. It wasn’t naivete. He knew what he was doing.
Sorry, I don’t give a damn what Török did in the first part of his career. I have watched him more or less openly supporting Fidesz for the past six years, through hate campaigns, and the elimination of checks and balances he was steadfast. He kissed ass more delicately than most. That is all.
(not that it matters, but I strongly disagree with you about the “quality” of his work in his first few years – yes, it was better than most on Hun. t.v. So what?).

webber
Guest

P.S. Gábor, while you are at it, why don’t you also tell us that G. Fodor Gábor produced good scholarship some years ago?
Not that it matters in the least – he has become a tool of the regime – but you seem to think it matters in Török’s case.
Aki Át mond…

Istvan
Guest

OT update on March 30 actions. This article http://nol.hu/belfold/hatalmas-lavinat-inditottak-el-a-lazado-tanarok-1608065 indicates that there are now about 100 schools committed to the one hour action on March 30. The Tanitanek website has not been updated as of this morning Chicago time. In the far north of Hungary where I have family only one school in Mosonmagyaróvár indicated it was participating in the action. Mosonmagyaróvár had a relatively strong electoral alliance combining trade unions LMP and MSZP behind Dr. Tamás Kovács for Mayor. But the key to the upsurge there seems to be the universal dislike of KLIK appointed Mosonmagyaróvár school district leader, Imre Medgyesi. There have been public calls for him to resign.

Guest

Re: Torok’s criticism

‘Principles aren’t of much account…except at election time. After that you hang them up to let them season’ ……Mark Twain

Looks as if Torok and perhaps others are disillusioned by the resulting Fidesz political taste after its ‘seasoning’ through these past few years.

webber
Guest

OT
There are now policemen armed with machine guns in every metro and train station in Budapest, and armoured vehicles at the airport.
There is not a single refugee to be seen anywhere in the city, as far as I could see.

Károly
Guest

webber: Not yet. I hope you don’t think that Orban is giving in. Orban put a lot on the refugee card and his people (probably in consultation with their Russian, Serbian counterparts) will deliver. I’m not worried. The brown-faced migrants will play their assigned parts in the next act.

petofi
Guest

Troops everywhere. The set-up is there.
Now, where will the reichstag-fire be…?

wpDiscuz