Budapest Beacon issues retraction and apology

October 20, 2014

Napi

On Friday afternoon, in response to articles published by reputable online news sites atv.hu and 444.hu, the Budapest Beacon published an article entitled “US bans 10 Hungarian officials, businessmen from entering country.”

The intention of the article was to report what atv.hu and 444.hu had written about the story, not to verify the accuracy of their coverage.

Unfortunately, our coverage of their coverage was not entirely accurate in the case of the following statement:

ATV reports that a total of 10 individuals were summoned to the United States Embassy in Budapest and informed that their right to enter the US had been revoked by presidential proclamation.

The ATV article “Ismert „fideszes” üzletembereket tiltottak ki az USA-ból” quotes an unnamed businessman as saying that he had been summoned to the embassy and told the decision had been made by “presidential proclamation”.  In that article ATV made no representation as to the accuracy of this statement.  Nor did it imply that this applied to the other nine cases.

Regretably, Le Monde subsequently reported that the Budapest Beacon had “clarified” that the President of the United States had issued the ban.  It was not our intention to “clarify” anything other than what atv.hu and 444.hu had reported.  Furthermore, we note that the United States Embassy in Budapest had previously stated that the decision was made by the U.S. State Department.

We apologize to ATV, Le Monde, the Hungarian News Service (MTI) and to the governments of the United States and Hungary for our mistake.

Below is a translation of the relevant passage of the ATV article in question:

It is our understanding that the United States suspended the right of ten Hungarian individuals to enter the United States.  The decision is unequivocally a criticism of the policies of the Hungarian government, so the Hungarian-American political conflict is deepening.

“They called me into the embassy and informed me that they had suspended by standing permit to enter the country.  They did not explain the decision, but referred to a presidential proclamation.  They called me home for a slap to the face”, explained a known Hungarian businessman who was among those “banned”.

In light of the above, we hereby amend our original coverage of the story as follows:

ATV reports that a total of 10 individuals were summoned to the United States Embassy in Budapest, one of which  one of which told ATV that, according to the embassy, his right to enter the US had been revoked by presidential proclamation

We are at a loss to explain why, in two subsequent articles published on Sunday,  ATV cited the Budapest Beacon as the source of the information about the “presidential proclamation” when we ourselves attributed this information to ATV.  The relevant passages of the articles “Obama hagyta jóvá a magyarok kitiltását?” and “Goodfriend: kiszavazhatják Magyarországot a Demokráciák Közössége Kormányzótanácsából” are reproduced below.

We at the Beacon are committed to fact-based reporting.  Unfortunately, this is often difficult in the case of breaking stories involving confidential or otherwise sensitive information.  We will strive to do better in the future.

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