Tag Archives: Dóra Dúró

The new media landscape: Magyar Nemzet versus Napi Gazdaság

Back in 2010 I devoted a post to a comparison of the domestic news reporting of two Hungarian dailies: Magyar Nemzet, then a government mouthpiece, and Népszabadság, a paper close to the Magyar Szocialista Párt (MSZP). All the articles appeared on the same day, and the results were startling. As I said then, “Two papers, two worlds.” Nowadays, when the print and online Hungarian media world is in turmoil, I thought it might be useful to take a look at the contents of the new Magyar Nemzet and the paper that took its ideological place, Napi Gazdaság.

In 2010 the most obvious difference between the two newspapers was which news items the editors picked from the offerings of MTI, the Hungarian news agency. Magyar Nemzet neglected to report on news that was unfavorable to the government while it picked up items of perhaps lesser importance if they showed the Orbán government in a good light. Népszabadság, on the whole, covered the events of the day more accurately, but there was a tendency to overemphasize matters that reflected badly on the government.

napi gazdasag2

Fast forward to 2015. Let’s start with Napi Gazdaság. If you recall, Viktor Orbán in his interview claimed that the reason for his government’s problem is the loss of the media that in the past explained the policies of his administration and directed public opinion “appropriately.” Looking at today’s Napi Gazdaság, one finds at least one article that aims to explain the government’s position on what it considers to be an important issue: the objections of the European Commission to certain provisions of the law on the use of agricultural lands, something I wrote about yesterday. Although other papers, including Magyar Nemzet and Népszabadság, didn’t consider the announcement of the chairman of the parliamentary commission on agricultural matters concerning the issue important enough to cover, Napi Gazdaság found it newsworthy. The message the paper wants to convey is that “the Hungarian law doesn’t contain anything that cannot be found in some other, older member states,” and therefore the Hungarian government finds the EU objections discriminatory.

There is another important task Napi Gazdaság must perform–anti-Gyurcsány propaganda. Although the news that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s consulting firm received the job of supervising an international team to improve the quality of decisions on contracts subsidized by the EU is old, Napi Gazdaság decided to include an article on the opinion of Ildikó Pelcz (née Gáll), who thinks that “the case is still full of question marks.” For good measure, the paper ran an editorial titled “Pinocchio.” The editorial combats Ferenc Gyurcsány’s newly announced program on utility prices. More than half of the editorial is designed to show the superiority of the government’s earlier decreases in utility prices over Gyurcsány’s suggestions.

One must always keep alive anti-communism, even if it takes some ingenuity to find a reason for talking about it. Gergely Gulyás made a speech at a conference held in the parliament building in which he called attention to the sufferings of the people on “this side of the iron curtain.” He also charged that “no one ever asked for forgiveness for the sins of communism” but immediately added that “those who maintained that regime can never be forgiven.”

A good government paper must also include some cheerful news, which is hard to come by of late. Therefore, a misleading headline always comes in handy. For example, one of the articles claims that “85% of Hungarian youth believe that they will be successful in life.” The other results of the survey, however, are not so rosy. That these young people believe that “to be successful one needs connections” should make readers wonder about the true state of affairs in Hungary when it comes to job opportunities. Or that over 40% of them would like to work abroad. On the other hand, we ought to rejoice at learning that the Raoul Wallenberg School, after so much tribulation, will be able to move, although “the final decision” will be reached by Zoltán Balog only at the end of May. But then why the announcement now? 

And finally, one ought to hit the opposition hard and, if possible, accuse them of dishonesty and possible fraud. Ferenc Papcsák, former mayor of Zugló, accuses the new administration of Gergely Karácsony of PM (who was supported by all the democratic opposition parties) of wasting the 2.5 billion forints he left behind. According to him, the salaries of employees haven’t been paid, certain projects had to be shelved, and the local paper, for the first time in 19 years, cannot appear because of a lack of funds.

There are several important pieces of news that Napi Gazdaság simply ignores. One is that Béla Turi-Kovács, a Fidesz member of parliament, is turning in a request to re-examine the abandonment of the M4 project. Turi-Kovács began his political career in the Smallholders party and served as minister of the environment in the first Orbán government between 2000 and 2002. This piece of news was reported by Magyar Nemzet, but the abandoned M4 is not something that should be talked about in a government paper.

The other significant news of the day that Napi Gazdaság failed to report on is that the head of Lombard Kézizálog Zrt., a financial institution that went bankrupt back in April, was arrested. Eight banks suffered a loss of about four billion forints. Perhaps even more interesting is another piece of news, this time about Lombard Lízing Zrt., a company being sued by a former customer who received a loan of 3.5 million forints in Swiss francs. Without going into the very complicated details of the case, the Hungarian National Bank and the government are siding with Lombard Lízing Zrt. against the customer. Fidesz seems to be so interested in the case that a Fidesz member of parliament between 2010 and 2014 will represent Lombard in the suit. That piece of news was discussed in a lengthy article in Magyar Nemzet but not in Napi Gazdaság.

Another topic that Magyar Nemzet, like other dailies, spends time on is the question of capital punishment. After all, there will be a discussion of Viktor Orbán’s reference to the death penalty tomorrow in the European Parliament. Magyar Nemzet actually has two interviews on the subject. One with Tamás Lattmann, a professor of international law, and another with Dóra Duró of Jobbik. Lattmann explains that no referendum can be held on the subject, while Duró tells about a debate within the party. The interviews were conducted by Lánchíd Rádió, another Simicska concern.

It is again not surprising that news that the association of history teachers and historians called on the government to condemn the 1915 genocide of Armenians did not appear in Napi Gazdaság. On the other hand, Magyar Nemzet is sympathetic to the cause of the Armenians, and the paper had a number of articles on the subject in the middle of April. Napi Gazdaság would never report on the historians’ request because, first of all, the historians involved are not exactly favorites of this government. Second, the Orbán government has exceedingly good relations with Turkey. Finally, Armenia broke off diplomatic relations with Hungary after the Orbán government sent an Azeri national who murdered an Armenian in Hungary back to Kazakhstan as a friendly gesture to the Azeri dictator.

Magyar Nemzet nowadays provides space for opposition members to express their views. For example, in today’s paper they reported on the opinion of Bernadett Szél, an LMP member of parliament, that the taxpayers will be responsible for the cost of taking care of atomic waste that will accrue at Paks.

The latest news about Vladimir Putin’s remarks on Hungary’s economic interest and the Paks II nuclear power plant naturally appeared in both papers. But there is an important difference. The Magyar Nemzet article consists of four sentences. It is restricted to the bare facts. Napi Gazdaság, on the other hand, spends considerable time on the issue, adding details about the size and the nature of the Russian loan.

Magyar Nemzet can no longer be considered a “government mouthpiece.” That role was taken over by Napi Gazdaság. The question is whether the new Magyar Nemzet will be able to retain its readership. Moreover, for the last month or so, we’ve heard about more and more Magyar Nemzet employees abandoning the paper and joining Napi Gazdaság. I assume they are offered higher salaries. And most likely the journalists who switch believe they will have better job security since the future of Napi Gazdaság, given its favored position, is assured, at least for three more years, while this might not be the case with Magyar Nemzet.

Two controversial Jobbik appointments: Tamás Sneider and Dóra Dúró

Today Jobbik finalized the composition and officers of its parliamentary delegation. The caucus consists of 23 people. Just as in the last parliament, Gábor Vona, party chairman, will be heading the group and just as before he will have five deputies.

Jobbik nominated Tamás Sneider to be one of the deputies to the president of the parliament, who will most likely once again be László Kövér. This nomination is very controversial and sparked a slew of objections in the last week or so. Even Bence Rétvári, undersecretary in the Ministry of Administration and Justice, remarked that perhaps Jobbik should “rethink” the nomination. Well, Jobbik thought long and hard about it and decided to stick with its candidate.

So, what’s wrong with Tamás Sneider other than being a member of a neo-Nazi party?

Way back in August 2009 I wrote a post about Hungarian skinheads. There I briefly mentioned a skinhead cell in Eger. The group was  infamous because, under the leadership of Tamás Sneider, known in those days as Roy, it was involved in Roma beatings on the streets of Eger. That was sometime in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sneider later joined Jobbik and became a member of the Eger city council.

During his time on the council he was arrested by the police because of a family dispute. As we learned from Magyar Nemzet, just before the 2010 election, Sneider, who by then was #9 on Jobbik’s party list for the 2010 election, wanted to put his parents under guardianship because, according to him, his father wanted to kill him. The parents had a different story to tell. Sneider apparently spent his share of the family fortune and further demanded the sale of their winery in Eger. When they refused, all hell broke loose and the parents sued the son. It was at this point that Sneider insisted that his parents were no longer able to be on their own due to their psychological impairment.  Since then psychiatrists have determined that the parents are perfectly normal. In light of the above, it is especially ironic that as a freshman MP Sneider was deputy chairman of  the parliamentary committee that dealt with, among other things, “family affairs.”

There were rumors in the last few days that the Fidesz delegation might vote against the appointment of Sneider due to his skinhead past. But that doesn’t seem likely. Today Antal Rogán, who was re-elected leader of the Fidesz delegation, indicated that Fidesz will not veto the nomination. “Each party must take political responsibility for its nominees. We would not like to choose among opposition nominees. There might be several nominees with whom we disagree. After all, we had a deputy president who was a party member in the old regime.”

I would have been very surprised if Fidesz, especially before the EP election, would have instigated a political fight over a Jobbik nomination. The reality is that Jobbik did exceedingly well in the last two elections and legitimately became a parliamentary party with all the privileges and prerogatives of that position. Perhaps Vona’s youth organization, so warmly supported by Viktor Orbán, should have been stopped as soon as it espoused an anti-Semitic and anti-Roma ideology. It is too late now.

Jobbik, just like all other parties, can send delegates to the various parliamentary committees. By law, the chairmanship of the committee on national security goes to someone delegated by one of the opposition parties. The position was held in the last four years by Zsolt Molnár of MSZP, and MSZP once again claimed the post. But this year, just as four years ago, Jobbik also wanted this important committee chairmanship. Four years ago their nominee, Gábor Staudt, didn’t receive clearance. This time around their nominee was the party chairman himself, Gábor Vona. But handing over the national security chairmanship to Jobbik would have been too much even for Fidesz. Instead, it supported MSZP, saying that by custom the largest opposition party is entitled to that position.

Having lost the chairmanship of the committee on national security, Jobbik insisted on another important post: chairmanship of the committee on education and culture. This time Fidesz supported their claim. An outcry followed. How could Fidesz give that critically important committee to Jobbik? “Our children’s future and Hungarian culture in the hands of a neo-Nazi party?” —asked Magyar Narancs.

Jobbik’s nominee for the post is Dóra Duró, wife of the notorious Előd Novák, who is most likely a member of the group responsible for kuruc.info. Here are a few choice (quasi-literate) sentences uttered by Dóra Dúró on matters of education. “Jobbik’s educational policy does not consider equality and integration as real values, but rather the fulfillment of people’s mission.” According to her, “from here on, the truth of educators must be unquestioned.”

Ildikó Lendvai, former MSZP chairman, commented on the probable appointment of Dúró this way: “Finally there is a seal on the alliance of Fidesz and Jobbik.”  The ideological roots of the two parties are similar in many respects, and over the past four years their views on cultural matters were practically identical. Fidesz often borrowed Jobbik’s ideas. For example, the removal of Mihály Károlyi’s statue was originally a Jobbik demand. The idea of resurrecting the Horthy regime also came from Jobbik. It was the extreme right that wanted to include Albert Wass and József Nyirő in the curriculum. And Jobbik was the first to propose the nationalization of schools, segregated schools, and the centralization of textbooks.

Dóra Dúró and her infamous laptop: "The nation lives in the womb"

Dóra Dúró and her infamous laptop: “The nation lives in the womb”

As for Dóra Dúró. The Dúró-Novák duo’s motto is “Be fruitful and multiply!”  She is only 27 years old but is pregnant with their third child. I read somewhere that she considers four children to be the minimum for a patriotic Hungarian family. Producing children seems to be a very important, if not the most important duty of a Hungarian woman. See the picture on the cover of her laptop: “The nation lives in the womb.”

She, like her husband, is a rabid anti-Semite. About a week ago a journalist asked Novák why the couple doesn’t take part in events remembering the Holocaust. His answer was: “We remember only genocides that actually happened.” Denial of the Holocaust is now a crime in Hungary, but as far as I know nothing happened to Előd Novák. Except that his like-minded wife will be chairing the parliamentary committee on education and culture.