Orbán’s farcical efforts to prove that the media is free make him look like an out-of-touch autocrat.
When Orbán was grilled in London about the state of the media, he said that any newsstand holds at least a dozen papers that are not pro-Orbán. Firstly, it shows that the man’s first image of “the media” is the printed press (indeed, he proudly doesn’t know how to use the internets). Secondly, such a lie easily shuts up a foreign journalist and ends an uncomfortable situation.
But even his claim of a dozen independent papers was a tall order – even in the capital city. Journalists from Telex.hu went out and bought every single non-Orbánist paper from the newsstand and let’s just say there weren’t twelve of them.
But that’s just the usual stunt:
Step 1: Orbán telling a lie abroad that shuts up foreigners because they are caught by surprise.
Step 2: The remaining independent media in the country pounces on it and wastes precious resources on proving him wrong.
Step 3: Repeat.
But the case didn’t come to rest there.
Last week Reporters Without Borders put Orbán on the list of enemies of press freedom. The move had apparently hurt his ego so he told us that we were put on a blacklist. Not him – but the whole country. (Typical abusive father spin.)
Orbán thus staged a stunt and posted the video on his all-important Facebook. The humble son of the people (that’s Orbán) spontaneously descended upon a regular newsstand, emerged from his menacing, dark van, and bought as many non-Orbánist papers as he could find.
He could only find 3 (two more were unavailable).
According to interview with the clerk, the stunt wasn’t scripted, even though the embarrassing bits were edited out, such as Orbán’s turbonationalist greeting that was not reciprocated.
In the video Orbán gloated that “there is some organization of Uncle Georgie Soros” (that’s RSF) that put the country on a blacklist, but how can the press be unfree if there are so many papers that “smear me”.
And to compound the sickening propaganda push to prove RFS wrong, 18 Orbánist papers came out with the identical front page next day, arguing that media in Hungary is totally free.
I guess that argument was that look, Orbán didn’t hurt anyone when he found enemy papers!
This is not the first time Orbanized papers simultaneously come out with identical front pages and content. They do so before every election and on other momentous occasions when Orbán wishes to carpet bomb the public attention with his message.
Orbán’s media conglomerate (KESMA) has 46 print and 48 online papers that are political in nature. Altogether the conglomerate holds nearly 500 titles.