“Today in Timiryazevsky Park world leaders participated in a 100 meter foot race. Our Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, finished a very respectable second place. The poor American President, John F. Kennedy finished a miserable next-to-last.”
Those who follow both the independent news outlets and the Fidesz-controlled part of the Hungarian media know what to expect by now. But there are always new lows when it comes to manipulation and pettiness.
From the independent outlets, hvg.hu reports about the Hungarian Helsinki Committee winning a libel case against Fidesz. The HHC sued both the party and János Halász, the spokesman for it’s parliamentary group, who claimed that HHC operates without transparency and breaks the law. According to the verdict, Halász’ claims are not correct, and the party was ordered to pay a minimal compensation to the HHC and issue a public apology. Mr Halász was acquitted since, according to the verdict, he was only doing his job for the party, and therefore cannot be held personally responsible. (The verdict is not final.)
Origo.hu, the news site under Fidesz-influence (owned by the son of the central bank governor) reported about the same verdict differently. It starts with boasting that the Hungarian Helsinki Committee lost its libel case against Mr Halász. The rest of the article features only new attacks against the HHC from Mr Halász, without mentioning that the court struck down these very claims by Fidesz. In short, origo.hu gave the impression that HCC lost the entire case and repeated every old attack against them – quoting the spokesman (who is now legally exempt from any consequences for what he says as long as he says it on party order).
This reminded me of an old soviet joke as told here. A story circulated in the old Soviet Union about a foot race between American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The anecdotal event was witnessed by members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and reporters from the leading Soviet newspaper PRAVDA.
John Kennedy was younger than Khrushchev, playing golf regularly and occasionally engaging in a game of flag football at his family’s home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Khrushchev on the other hand was older, clearly overweight, and based on his appearance it was unlikely he got much exercise.
The men appeared as arranged at a local park a little North of Moscow. It was screened by trees from all public view, and surrounded by security staff to insure no uninvited observers were in attendance. A 100 meter track was laid out.
The starter’s pistol sounded and the men raced down the track. John Kennedy, as expected, won by a very large margin. The men were cordial toward each other, shaking hands and arranging to have dinner that evening. They returned to their entourages, who were patiently waiting outside the park.
Pravda reported the event: “A Foot Race In Moscow Between World Leaders” read the headline.“Today in Timiryazevsky Park world leaders participated in a 100 meter foot race. Our Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, finished a very respectable second place. The poor American President, John F. Kennedy finished a miserable next-to-last.”