Magyar Nemzet, an 80-year-old daily, and Lánchíd Rádió, a radio station will shut down tomorrow – it has been announced.
Both outlets belonged to Orbán’s former friend and top oligarch Lajos Simicska, and were used to leak information on Fidesz. Both decisions are justified by financing problems.
Simicska also owns HírTV, which will also be “rationalised” and he has a share in Index.hu, Hungary’s biggest and most influential independent online news site, which is now following the events closely. If index.hu will be closed, Hungarian media will remain without independent anchor and Orbán’s media rule will be near-complete.
Simicska also announced his retirement from media – after he put up a mighty fight against Orbán in the election campaign where he supported the Jobbik party. His papers leaked the monumental scandal of Orbán’s strongman, Kósa, and then another major money laundering case – as well as many minor leaks on local Fidesz strongmen and Orbán’s deputy’s lobbyist-funded reindeer-hunting helicopter trip to Sweden. Just yesterday, they leaked the email ordering the public broadcaster to describe the Münster attacker as migrant until election is over. None of these reports had any consequences for the Fidesz politicians involved, naturally.
Simicska became Orbán’s nemesis after the 2014 elections, when Orbán decided to move the economic center of his rule from the party (Fidesz) to his own oligarchs. Simicska had been the powerful architect of Fidesz’ financial growth and a childhood friend of Orbán. He had been replaced as top oligarch by Lőrinc Mészáros, whose newly acquired companies’ shares skyrocketed (again) on the Budapest Stock Exchange in a reaction to the election results.
In October 2016, the oldest Hungarian broadsheet daily, Népszabadság was also shut down in an overnight coup, its archives wiped from the internet. Journalists were not allowed back to their work stations. They have been leaking embarrassing details about the central bank governor.