168ora.hu has been widely considered a faux-independent newspaper: allowed to publish critical opinions about Orbánism – but so under-funded that only angry has-beens published opinions in it (unpaid) and it only served as a pressure valve for the unconvertables. The paper hasn’t moved on from its 20th century attitude (insisted on print primacy and th eold genres) and most importantly, it did not do investigative journalism.
Even when critical of the regime, it criticized policies at face value, as if they were designed to serve the public but failing at it – rather than mere instruments of theft or intimidation (or both). It allowed a few stale names to vent their democracy-based grievances – clearly an outdated notion in Orbánism.
The paper’s orientation (Orbánist or not) has been the object of heavy guesswork, even among its own journalists. No one understood how it was allowed to be sold to someone outside of NER (Orbán’s system of clientelism and financial loyalism) that had otherwise bought up nearly 500 titles nationwide through assorted front men. They then gave all their papers to Orbán as a gift on an unremarkable November day in 2018, creating Europe’s biggest media conglomerate. (The same kind of move disgraced Austrian vice-chancellor Strache was wet dreaming about in his leaked Ibiza video, when he hoped to get Russian money to play Austrian media into his hands).
No one is allowed to buy media outlets in Hungary without political approval from above, the media council makes sure of that. So when 168 óra was allowed to be sold to an American Jewish businessman, the rest of the media was waiting to see what happens. Then the new owners of 168 óra turned out to be Orbán’s Jewish friends and Jewish beard and their function in the system became clear.
Eventually even the paper’s journalists and editor-in-chief resigned – and if you wonder why, let it be a clue that they started a tiny little newspaper of their own, just to be independent. Also, they apparently weren’t paid – much like many of their outside contributors, despite promises and contracts. (But I’m sure Orbánists abroad would tell a story that it is somehow just communists who didn’t like market logic.)
Anyway, the new set of journalists didn’t last long either. The silly rabbits thought they can just publish a leading story about Orbán’s vicious homophobic propaganda and its consequences titled “Rainbow hatred” – across the page from a publicity photo (from Orbán’s Facebook) picturing his family under the title “Family disguise” and a lead that claimed that by pretending that we are family, the regime gets away with terrible things, and that family-friendliness is an empty phrase.
The editor-in-chief of 168 óra was promptly fired and the owner defiantly claimed that it was because there was an underage Orbán child on the photo in question – even though that photo was published on Orbán’s own publicity Facebook.
888.hu, one of the most vicious pitbull sites of Orbánism quickly commended the move as “exemplary”.
It is quite apparent that any reference to the royal family is to be avoided even when loyalist are pretending to be independent.