No shame in being a party propagandist, just awkward to deny It!

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jegyzetcover844Undoubtedly, one of Orbán and his gang’s most cunning moves was to cannibalise the Hungarian news agency MTI as soon as possible and then make the news they now controlled and influenced free of charge. This way, they subjugated the public and mushroom-propagated the fake and semi-fake institutes, which echoed their views before the public on all platforms. We have all seen the “experts” and “analysts” in uniform suits who robotically repeat centrally issued templates in the government press. Make no mistake; each and every one of them is a paid party propagandist. As a matter of fact, there is no shame in this: being a party propagandist is a perfectly legitimate job (funding it from public money raises questions though), it’s just infinitely pathetic when they try to deny this.

I confess that I do not even understand those media outlets that do not consider themselves  government servants, yet regularly and without criticism interview, for example Dániel Deák in their news programs and analytical materials. Deák tries to present himself as a serious analyst of a government affiliated institute stuffed with money, but his trembling efforts to hammer exclusively Fidesz’ narrative into people’s heads makes him infinitely ridiculous. The situation is similar with the propaganda institute also cunningly called the Centre for Fundamental Rights. It is a joke in itself that they have only failed to stand up for the fundamental human rights the government has trampled upon in the past period, although they do not hide their position: their declared goal is to be a ‘counterpoint’ to human rights fundamentalism and political correctness that overflows many walks of life these days. I would like to point out once again that being a party propagandist is no shame, trying to sell yourself as a independent and objective expert while being one is, however, rather pathetic. This is also true for this case. The Centre for Fundamental Rights has made itself noticed as of late by organising a highly Fidesz “private event” (i.e. a garden party in a castle) that put half of the government into quarantine; we, of course, wish all coronavirus carriers a speedy recovery. But it is not only because of this that the “independent institute,” which operates from massive public funds, is a perfect example: they have also received millions from the Fidesz party foundation and one of the Hungarian National Bank’s foundations.

The head of the company bathed in public funds is Miklós Szánthó, a former member of the Christian Democratic KDNP’s youth organization, but according to press reports, he has also represented Fidelitas in the youth section of the European People’s Party. At the moment, by the way, he is, not incidentally, the leader of the Fidesz media golem, put together by state aid and controlling hundreds of newspapers and other media. The strategic director of the centre is István Kovács, who was on the Fidesz EP list last year but slipped off the mandate in the last minute, but there is also research director Péter Törcsi, who is reportedly a very lucky company founder: in 2018, as soon he started his own consulting business, he already received orders in the value of millions of forints from the Prime inister’s Office and the Fidesz parliamentary group. But the leadership of the centre also includes deputy director Miklós Panyi, who bashfully only writes about himself on the website that he was the “Hungarian press adviser of the People’s Party of the European Parliament”, which translates to the fact that he worked as a press secretary for Fidesz MEPs. Several of the company’s leading analysts have recently worked at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office dealing with government propaganda, and analyst Eszter Párkányi, who is a regular face in the government media, recently held press conferences as a spokesperson for Fidelitas. And before the pro-government comment commando, trained by István Kovács’s Megaphone project, jumps at me with a sharpened keyboard: there is nothing wrong with all this. Educated, well –travelled people work at this government affiliated institute. More precisely, at this institute as well.

The trouble is that these propaganda companies (or, as the government press would put it “pseudo-
civilians”) are stuffed with taxpayers’ money, and the analyses, statements, and declarations they convey are taken seriously by some instead of treating them like the repackaged positions of the Fidesz government, which they are. Orbán has built a well-functioning, professional tell-it-like it-is network to influence the public. If we actually see this, we know it and we take the words of their
actors with the deserved seriousness, they can bend reality in any way, it will always make way for
itself.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
August 30, 2020