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.