Huffington Post: Hungary slides into authoritarianism as government smears independent journalists

October 24, 2017

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Article blacklisting independent journalists on 888.hu | Photo: The Budapest Beacon

In a summing-up of Hungary’s current political climate, the Huffington Post calls the country “a 1980s retro version of itself” and cites the bullying of Budapest Beacon contributor Lili Bayer by government spokesman Zoltán Kovács and government mouthpiece 888.hu as evidence of Hungary’s steady slide into authoritarianism.

The US-based liberal commentary site portrays how Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros became the latest scapegoat to be targeted by Viktor Orbán’s government and therefore the central figure of the government’s propaganda.

Huffington Post calls 888.hu’s blacklisting of journalists a “sinister new twist” and cites American chargé d’affaires David Kostelancik who said last week that “These media outlets have every right to criticize or disagree with the reporting of other journalists, but to attempt to intimidate them and make their work dangerous is inconsistent with international pledges to safeguard free media.”

According to the liberal commentary site, 888.hu’s smearing of Bayer and attacks by government spokesman and Central European University graduate Zoltán Kovács on Twitter confirm “Hungary’s steady slide into authoritarianism.” The site argues that “with secret police monitoring dissidents, the government assuming control over the media, and the ruling party demanding unswerving public loyalty,” month by month Hungary “looks more like a 1980s retro version of itself.”

In conclusion, Huffington Post warns that “violence against activists and journalists often starts with demonization by the government as authoritarian rulers and their mouthpieces smear their work and assert they are unpatriotic or agents of a foreign power.”

Huffington Post notes that Hungary is a part of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, warned against online harassment and intimidation of journalists in member countries at a conference last month.

Despite this, the commentary site argues, it is unlikely that Fidesz will depart from its “xenophobic blueprint” and adds that it is very likely the general election next spring will be dominated by George Soros and his alleged global conspiracy against Hungary.