There is one information-related function Orbán’s media still fulfills: It clearly pinpoints those who pose a threat to his system.
Remember when an extreme-right party attempted to broaden its voter base and rebranded itself as a people’s party in 2016? Its leader was the strongest contender of Orbán and he was posing with puppies and declared that he was preparing to govern.
The move apparently upset Orbán. The way I know it is that it triggered a coordinated attack in Orbán’s media, accusing him of child abuse as well as using light bulbs as anal sex toys (with unbelievably fake “medical scans” thrown in for good measure). That’s how I know Orbán sees something as a threat.
At the time, Orbán was worried that Jobbik might become a moderate populist party and regain its voters lost to the more radical Orbán. If Jobbik managed to turn mainstream, it would have become the “clean Fidesz”, i.e. Fidesz minus the wholesale corruption. That was not to be allowed – so hunting season was on for Jobbik’s leaders.
Apart from reports of sodomite sex games with homosexual light bulbs ending in hospital, Orbán’s media has also accused Vona with spreading Nutella on his manhood to attract puppies, being secretly gypsy and having changed his name to conceal it, being under psychiatric treatment and having obsessive episodes (a thing Orbán is often accused of), and stealing firewood while high on designer drugs. All came from old photos of the target, published on their own social media – with the story fabricated without even a hint at evidence.
The second method is anonymous accusations published in anonymous editorial articles – that never stand up in court, but who cares? By the time the court case is over, well, to quote a character from the show Billions:
Someone says Charlie fucked a goat, even if the goat denies it, he goes to the grave “Charlie the goat fucker.”
Showtime’s Billions, Season 1 Episode 3
The analogy is quite literal in this case.
Orbán’s media has also earlier published blacklists of CEU-academics, civil society, and lawyers who are not loyal to Orbán’s regime, and declared them enemies. His top columnist publishes a weekly column of expletive-filled calls for violence against the opposition, and got the highest prize this country can decorate someone with.
Meet the new enemies of the nation
A very similar thing is happening right now – against the Hungarian non-Fidesz MEPs, who dared to coordinate their actions in Brussels and blocked the election of some Fidesz MEPs into European Parliament positions. They didn’t have to do much, they only published which Hungarian MEPs were actually OfFidesz – a thing said Fidesz MEPs regularly forget to mention about themselves in Brussels.
Apparently, the blow was painful enough for Fidesz to declare hunting season on the opposition MEPs in revenge. I am not assuming it, the declaration was made publicly, in an article that called them “the enemies” of the nation and declared that “every tool is permissible” against them.
The method of media smear appears to be the same. Scrolling down on their social media accounts until you find something that inspires an outrageous accusation against them.
That is how they found this photo of Momentum MEP Katalin Cseh from 2015 – and published it as evidence of her “above-average, cosmopolitan lifestyle”.
This may even be amusing, but the most vicious attack came against Anna Donáth, MEP for Momentum, where they used the second method of accusation: the anonymous allegations.
First, Donáth’s father, a Lutheran reverend, was accused of sexual misconduct. And now it is Donáth herself, being accused of inappropriate lesbian sexual behavior, by an anonymous accuser, quoted by an anonymous article, spreading across Fidesz’ media like wildfire.
Sexual misconduct is a serious thing, make no mistake, but accusations from the most sexist and misogynistic propaganda media in Europe are ironic at least.
These Fidesz media workers are the same people who cordially joke about rape and attack its victims (just remember how they whitewashed a convicted rapist a few years ago just because he was an athlete). They also promote and approve of sexism openly and wholeheartedly. They are also the people who get worked up by the sheer thought that homosexuals might be allowed to exist – and so is their target audience. They work tirelessly to associate homosexuality with pedophilia – just like every other Russia-inspired media outlet on the planet does these days.
So accusations of lesbian sexual misconduct sound a bit rich coming from them. They don’t even try to show evidence, they are ready to lose the court case over it – dragging it out for a few years. Being associated with sex is the last thing a female politician wants on this part of the world, it is even more exciting to think about than the goats…
Not to mention that ever since they were taken over by Fidesz, these media outlets were caught lying more times than anyone could count – with dozens of court verdicts to prove it – but no consequence came to those who published those lies. One of them even published an upskirting photo of a teenage girl, who dared to speak against the regime at a protest. They published completely fake accusations that she was failing her classes (not that it matters if someone has a political opinion), she won the libel case, the propaganda sites kept going and publishing whatever they thought would damage her. For speaking at an opposition rally.
These allegations and vicious smear campaigns are definitely the sign that someone managed to annoy or hurt the system – that doesn’t mean they cannot be destroyed. The schoolgirl who spoke at an opposition rally and got caught up in Fidesz media had to suffer alienation from her friends and people who live in the same town, some of her teachers refused to appear on the same graduation photo with her. How long can anyone stay sane and not buckle under this? How long can a teenage girl from a small town? How long will her family stand behind her and not turn against her, accusing her of rocking the boat? How long would you take if it were years of your life being spent in social isolation, with no end of the regime in sight?
Orbán’s media workers may know what to lie and whom to attack – but they are also famous for not daring to write anything until they receive the order from above. But when they get the order, they also receive the themes, the soundbites, and the catchphrases to use in their coordinated smear campaigns.
There are no consequences in the Fidesz media for going below and beyond. Courts may compel them to issue a correction or even pay a fine – but the damage is already done and the taxpayer pays those fines.
As of Jobbik, it had since suffered the signature Orbán-treatment: the salami tactic. Jobbik has exploded into splinter factions that are now infighting so hard, the entire movement sank into irrelevance. Everyone can point out the Fidesz-stooges among them – except the ones who needed to be fooled: Orbán’s audience.
As of the extreme-right agenda, it is alive and well, absorbed by Orbán, lock, stock and barrel. Even the leader of the Hungarists – an even more radical racist extremist movement than Jobbik – decided to resign a few years ago because Orbán stole their platform.
It would be a curious spectacle to watch Orbán reabsorbing the liberal agenda just to rob Momentum of its platform. That probably won’t happen (not for Hungarian audiences, anyway, maybe outwardly, for the benefit of Brussels). But Orbán will most definitely apply the salami-tactic against Momentum, planting stooges who erode the movement from within, sowing discord, establishing splinter factions, sabotaging internal decisionmaking – and of course he will tie them down in press correction trials and criminal investigations to decimate their already limited resources. Meanwhile, all the captive audience of Orbán’s media will ever see is poorly photoshopped light bulbs stuck in opposition politicians’ “poopers”.
For now, these attacks are only proving that these people touched a nerve in the System, and whatever they are doing, it is threatening Orbán. That’s all I can tell for certain. (And that the light bulb on that hospital scan was fake.)
Follow us on Facebook , Twitter @_MwBp
Featured image: Momentum Facebook