A Bit about the Hungarian Media

Yesterday, I was shown the cover of the new Heti Válasz, a horrendous right-wing propaganda weekly. The person showing it to me was bemused by the fact that it featured a collage of three faces: Pablo Iglesias Turrión, Alexis Tsipras and Viktor Orban, with a caption: “The Daredevils of Europe”. This image was, of course, implying that these are the three brave politicians who stand up to Brussels, and the International Capitalist Pigdogs in general. Of course, I am sure that the accompanying editorial failed to mention that FIDESZ is an authoritarian bunch of ultraconservative footpads and the other two parties are democratic, socialist and open formations that are fighting against exactly the kind of politics FIDESZ represents. (Though I heard that Podemos is kinda problematic, but I’ve been lazy to look into the matter)

I could have easily dismissed this cover as yet another example of ridiculous propaganda, and taken as an example of the ever greater depths the right-wing media descends into. I actually did so yesterday. Then I came home, opened 444 (an alternative, progressive  online portal) and realised that they are making the EXACT SAME COMPARISON, but from a different angle. They use the rhetorics of the FIDESZ government, eg. “freedom fight”, “unorthodox methods”, etc. to ridicule  SYRIZA and their struggle against the murderous nonsense of austerity.

This is just an example of how utterly messed-up the Hungarian media is. It is the elephant in the room that few talk about, simply because elephants don’t like to talk about themselves. They prefer to chew and shit and break some stuff now and again. Also, they can’t talk.

Anyway. here’s a quick rundown of the key players: There is the state media, which is basically a government mouthpiece, and has been one for ages. It does not even try to fake a sense of independence, just tows the party line, regardless of the actual party. One of the two commercial TV stations mostly ignores politics (their news programmes are usually about rural murders and kittens) and the other, RTL Klub used to be the same but then switched to poking the FIDESZ with a stick, but just because of a tax dispute. There are rumours that the dispute has been settled and they’ll go back to business.

The print media is equally hopeless. Hardly anyone reads newspapers any more (apart from the tabloids, whose tits and celebs content has no bearing on the country), and with good reason. These papers are extremely insular (Népszabadság, the leading opposition daily has a single page for foreign affairs, where they publish fluffed-up  reports from news agencies. Trust me, it would be worse if they tried to write about, let’s say ISIS, as they can’t tell the difference between Salafism and Political Islam and they are too lazy to actually read things not written by their friends) and dominated by uncritical intellectuals who only put on pants and leave their homes to bore people to death at protests, but whose words are seen as divine revelation to those who already share all their views.

Then there is the electronic media. Here, the alternative opposition and the nazis are dominant. The latter were, as usual, the only political group smart enough to realise that the internet is useful, and built up a major portal whose name I won’t utter and a strong base of people who will gladly fill comment sections with vile hate speech. The alternative opposition is centered around index and 444, who are closely related to each other. The former is becoming more and more  boring and it proudly hosts some of the most vile misogyny in the history of the nation. The latter is a gawkerised hellhole, which mostly scavenges foreign media outlets, from Buzzfeed to the New Yorker and rephrases their articles into flashy quotes.  Their opinion pieces are a continuation of the great anti-intellectual traditions of the print media, just with younger writers, one of whom, for instance, had the gall to publish a winding, multi-page prognosis about how Hungary will become like Latin-America, based on his personal, no doubt very deep understanding of said continent he acquired on his holiday road trip. These portals are also highly opinionated and view anything and everything with the condescending glint of the 29 year-old hipster who is too cool to stand for anything, (Also, don’t get me started on any news outlet that spreads the gospel of free market capitalism. Unless it is the Economist, which is evil, but a kind of respectable evil, due to the intellect and professionalism of its writers, their critical attitude and ability to reconsider erroneous judgements.)

What is missing from any of these? Actual journalism. People with a certain awareness of the surrounding world going out into the open, finding stories, then researching and writing them. Even basic fact-finding is missing from most news reports, especially when it comes to foreign affairs, as all the journalists do is look at news agency reports and then just translate anything they find interesting, without even thinking about what they are writing. They can’t even be arsed to instill a slight sense of doubt about breaking news, and present every single bit of information as fact. I was following the live feed of 444 about the recent terror attacks in Paris and I really began to question my hobby, as the experience was excruciatingly painful. But if this brings the clicks, then what can they do?

So, basically, we have people talking out of the government’s ass, talking about other people’s asses and talking out of their own asses. The national media is intent on suppressing change, because that serves the government’s purposes. The international media conglomerates that run the commercial television channels are simply not interested in change, because they just want to enjoy the status quo. The warring sides of the newspapers have no time for new ideas or any ideas for that matter, they are too busy building fortifications of empty rhetoric. 444 and the rest of the alternatives laugh at the idea of change and the fascists are fighting for a horrific change, but change nonetheless.

And once again, the fascists are winning.

I am getting tired to reaching this conclusion, but I have to keep doing it, because the fascists are actually winning in Hungary, while everyone is too busy being distracted by nonsense.

Same Old, Same Old

Well, well. I haven’t written in a while, because I am lazy. I know I should but I have quite a few things going on at the moment. A quick recap since the last post: FIDESZ won two elections with a landslide, which only surprised people who did not look at the opposition. The Grand Coalition, as it could be expected, failed miserably. They didn’t even try again at the EP elections, where MSZP suffered a humiliating defeat and the other parties hopefully reached the equally humiliating conclusion that they were tricked by a shambling corpse. MSZP dominates the opposition in parliament (kinda like how Moldova dominates Europe between Ukraine and Romania), even though at the EP elections, it was clear that it doesn’t actually have more support than Egyutt or DK, who now must feel particularly stupid.

Jobbik reached its zenith by coming in second at the Ep elections, but this really doesn’t mean much. If I manage to get to the Nazis article I’ve been planning for a while, I’ll explain what I mean. In short, they will never achieve any real power. Also, amusingly, their main financier was outed as an alleged Russian Agent. The party has taken a strong pro-Putin turn lately. I guess the fences surrounding the Soviet WWII Memorial were removed knowing that the nazis wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them.

LMP has gotten into parliament. Full stop.

FIDESZ has so far been true to its own campaign promise and it is continuing its arrogant steamrolling of everything and anything. What I find interesting is what makes waves and what doesn’t. This year, there were two and a half major scandals around the party. The half one happened when the media got wind that Antal Rogan, the mayor of District V and notorious bonvivant lied in his income statement. Specifically, it seems that his flat magically grew in size. This case went absolutely nowhere, partially becasue some higher-ups in MSZP were markedly against pressing the matter. Knowing Hungarian politics, they probably made a deal with FIDESZ to ensure that they wouldn’t be destroyed. (Despite all the posturing, the big parties can be quite cordial with each other, if it benefits them. During the previous government, a FIDESZ-MSZP coalition voted to ban press from most of the parliament, after some journalists caught MPs smoking in non-smoking areas on hidden cameras). Anyway, the case of Rogan’s Magical House will never be solved.

The first main scandal was the memorial to the Nazi occupation of Hungary, that horrendous pseudo-romantic piece of shit that I already wrote about in an earlier post. Despite protests from multiple organisations and foreign Governments, they just started building it. The reaction was furious, especially from the MSZP/DK-aligned pensioners who include a number of Holocaust-survivors. The  bulding site was vandalised every day for about a week, but the direct action stopped when police was sent to guard the area. Now there is a standoff between a varying number of police and protesters. The quite cool makeshift memorial, made up of stones, photographs and documents was rebuilt across from the building site and things seem rather calm at the moment, but I guess after the construction finishes, there will be quite a few random acts of violence against the statue. The issue is that the matter received a disproportionate amount of attention. Yes, it is a horrible and offensive piece of crap, but then again, it is just a bloody statue. It won’t really hurt anyone and it won’t make matters worse. It will not allow Viktor Orban to pull a Dark Willow and try to destroy the world by funneling magical essences through the central effigy.  But it is really convenient for both sides. FIDESZ can divert attention from its truly henious acts and the “Democratic Opposition” can mobilise against something that wouldn’t be as divisve as real issues, like refugee or Roma rights, for example.

The second one just started, and it could get juicy. Emphasis on “could” because it won’t. After a series of articles were published by the news portal Origo showing that the Minister of Douchebaggery (actually he has a not much less ridiculous title, the Minister Responsible for the Prime Minister’s Office, or at least this will be his role in the new government, not sure how things are at the moment), Janos Lazar participated in luxurious “missions” (aka. vacations) on taxpayer money. As a result of the articles, Lazar had to back down and pay back 2 million HUF (about 8900 USD) and I’m sure he got pissed. He’s like that. A few years ago, he sued a commenter who said that it’s a shame that he wasn’t the person who died in a car crash involving his convoy. The media, even the servile right-wing media erupted in outrage and a protest was organised for yesterday where about 1500-2000 people showed up, which is basically the number that the semi-dormant protest movement can mobilise.

Oh, also, the same Minister has launched a major attack against NGOs recently. This is not a Putin-esque complete crackdown, it is just that a financial regulating body was let loose to pester them while Lazar is trying to claim that Norway is attempting to meddle in Hungarian affairs because non-government-aligned NGOs can also receive money if their applications are decided favourably by the fund. There is some backlash against this as well, but there is no sign of it gaining momentum. People will grumble and then move on when there is something else to grumble about.

The scary thing is that there is a complete stalemate, or rather an equilibrium. The government, I think, is really not committed to destroying democracy on an ideological level. They don’t have ideology apart from their aspirations to live like the late 19th-early 20th century landed gentry: wealthy, outwardly pious, insular and openly (even theatrically) nationalistic. They attack anything and anyone that they perceive as an attack against their privileges and lifestyle but they want no more and no less. Meanwhile, the opposition is still completely devoid of ideas. When FIDESZ throws them a bone, they chew on it for a while, but they are incapable of taking the initiative in anything. MSZP is only active because it still has a little bit of momentum left and DK is surviving due to the bizarre personality cult of Ferenc Gyurcsany. Egyutt, which never had any basis in reality to begin with has completely lost its way after even they realised that Gordon Bajnai is not exactly the super-intelligent technocrat genious, just an awkward accountant. And LMP, well, they exist somewhere. And everyone is happy. FIDESZ has what it wants and its mere existence provides enough fuel for the continued activities of all the others. Of course, for example DK would like to be in charge, but they still have the next best thing. And it’s not like they can lose any more voters.

And this, in short, is why the one group that is well outside this game is so popular. The one that pursues its own agenda instead of jumping from outrage to outrage, the one that organises even when the elections aren’t a week away, the one that can’t give two shits about what FIDES or MSZP or anyone else is doing, the one that is interested in changing the status quo. And that group are the nazis.

We are still fucked.

Recent Events

The past few days have been rather active, the baboons are acting up as if it was mating season. Actually, it is mating season, when they are desperately trying to find partners so that they can scrounge up more votes before the elections that are due sometime in the Spring. Well, the opposition is at least, as the government is too busy proving that they just stopped giving a fuck, because even the Black Death would be reelected with such competition.

There was LMP, the different party, that managed to split up once again (their previous split happened when Együtt 2014 convinced some of the more treasonous career politicians to bail and form a party called Párbeszéd Magyarországért /Dialogue for Hungary). This time Gábor Vágó, a man known for his exquisite moustache and frequent appearances at protests, simply quit after he wasn’t nominated for any constituencies by the party assembly. If they continue at this rate, they might have more splinter groups than voters by the time the elections come.

The rest of the opposition are still forming the Grand Alliance. Now, the LMP traitors, Együtt, and MSZP are beginning to woo Gyurcsány, to join their cause, in a desperate attempt to recreate the exact same conditions that helped FIDESZ to its absolute majority. How is this going to help them, I have no idea, but I have heard otherwise intelligent people repeating their mantra that a Grand Coalition of opposition parties is the solution. I think they might have hired the underpants gnomes to run the campaign.

FIDESZ, on  the other hand, outdid itself with another act that would be political suicide in any normal country. Cink, the Gawker-affiliated macroblogging portal was the first to give news about a newspaper that is to be launched in the near future. Imre Kerényi, wait a sec. I have to explain what this guy is. Imre Kerényi is currently the “Prime Minister’s appointee in charge of creating the basis for national public legal thinking and in connection to this, tasked with preserving and developing Hungarian cultural values”. This is his official title. “A tudatos nemzeti közjogi gondolkodás megalapozásával és ehhez kapcsolódva a magyar kulturális értékek megőrzésével és fejlesztésével összefüggő feladatok ellátásáért felelős miniszterelnöki megbízott”. Fuck me sideways, it makes no sense in Hungarian either. So, this guy is completely batshit crazy and I don’t know what they want to gain from having him around. Perviously, he commissioned painters to illustrate the new constitution, giving a metric fuckton of public money for works of art that were probably produced in a kindergarten. So, he sent around a letter to 100 public figures that they are being asked to contribute to the new Hungarian Chronicle, a newspaper which was the idea of the Prime Minister, where said PM will be a regular contributor and which will, of course, be funded by the government. He then goes on for ever and ever in an incoherent rant about how it will be about positive news, like seeing a “yellow duck” for sale at the market or mobile phone photos of newborn twins. I will translate it another day.

Can’t wait until the campaign really starts…