Orbán “advisor” launches pro-government news portal

September 26, 2015

Photo: 888.hu
Photo: 888.hu

Árpád Habony, international man of mystery and controversial “informal advisor” to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has launched his Modern Media Group’s online news portal, 888.hu.

The pro-government news portal’s editor-in-chief is none other than Gábor G. Fodor, the former “strategic director” of Fidesz think-tank “Századvég”, whose owners have prospered under the second and third Orbán governments (2010–) by preparing a slew of indispensable “studies” at taxpayer expense.

The name of the pro-government news portal appears to be an attempt to one-up that of independent news portal 444.hu, which frequently publishes hard-hitting exposés of leading Fidesz politicians and prominent and up-and-coming oligarchs allowed to feed generously at the public trough.

The news portal has even adopted some of the youthful hallmarks of 444.hu, including highlighting key sentences in yellow.

(Ideal for a technology-addicted generation with the attention span of a cocker spaniel puppy on crack cocaine-ed.)

According to director Péter Keresztesi 888.hu primarily targets people under 40 and is one of several projects he and his colleagues are feverishly working on.  Keresztesi said they were inspired to launch an online news portal by the fact that the “dynamically growing” online market offers “wonderful business opportunities” (especially since Orbán fell out with former Fidesz oligarch Lájos Simicska whose media empire reaped billions in revenues from lucrative government contracts and orders from state-owned companies-ed.).

The photograph appearing at the head of this article is taken from the op-ed piece “Valamit a lényegről”, which roughly translates as “Get to the point”, published on September 25, 2015.  The title echoes Orbán’s frequent remark that political correctness prevents Europe’s leaders from speaking openly and honestly about real problems and real solutions, and about the need to recognize and adjust to the new realities of the world, including the challenge to US economic and military power by what Orbán frequently refers to as “illiberal democracies.”  As the piece reads like a dumbed-down version of a number of his speeches of late, we would say it was either written by the prime minister himself or someone intimately acquainted with his particular world view.

So that our readers might get a sense of what 888.hu has in store for its readers, we have translated the piece below.

“Get to the point”

It is now possible to feel the machinery of history at work.  One can almost hear the cogwheels turning.  Chaos is no longer merely peeping in through the window, but has kicked in our door with great force.

Now is the time for us to also talk about the crux of the matter, and about why it is necessary to be the subject of hostile glares in the world because we we find ourselves faced with those wearing “nothing of relevance” glasses.

Continuous crisis

It turns out that the great drawing of borders in the Middle-East and Africa that took place in the 1920s has been a failure.  While the motivations of that time can be understood, unfortunately we are only now dealing with the consequences.  We could learn from life that creating countries by simply drawing borders is not ideal.  And the instable regions are only growing.  Countries that previously appeared to the West to be full of promise are failing one after the other.  Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lybia and sub-Saharan Africa are partly in total chaos, and in the majority of cases it is only possible to choose between bad and worse solutions.   The competition among great powers has not ended.  Let us not be naive.  Nobody is happy to give up the influence obtained by the developed world.  Furthermore, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia are new players joining the good old competition between Russia and America.

The politics of closed eyes

The current crisis perfectly demonstrates the unsuitability of current politics.  If migrants are arriving to our borders in significant numbers, let us have no doubts that, possessed of will and long term goals, the great powers can solve the current serious situation we find ourselves in.  The question is rather what would happen in the event of even more serious crisis, how prepared actually are the European national security services, how would EU catastrophe management operate, or, indeed, could we defend ourselves against an attack from China, Russia or Iran?  The happy, peaceful days are, unfortunately, suitable for us to live in illusions.  Even the USA has not rested for a second, at most it dozed off for a second or two, while the EU entrusted its security to someone else and virtually eliminated its own immunity system.  Unlike us, America is far from the crisis zones. As a state spanning virtually an entire continent with easily defensible borders, it decides accordingly.  We, too, need to open our eyes.

New distribution of roles

Apart from confronting actual developments (or not, as the case may be), there is scarcely time for us in Europe to thoroughly examine what is happening on the world political stage.  It would not hurt to do so, because it appears that many realized a long time ago that instead of, or in addition, to Washington, one often needs to pay attention in other directions: To Peking, Moscow, and for those with sharp vision even to Teheran and Abuja.   Over the past few weeks there have been handshakes that even Kissinger would have said were impossible.  It is possible to fear, be alarmed, and to stick our heads in the sand.  But now is the time for us to prepare for our continent losing its central position and for the time of the multi-polar world order that is coming.   For now it appears that the European project, bleeding from many wounds, is not exactly on top.  Europe does not go to the trouble of acknowledging the world.  For a long time it has only been reflecting on itself.  All the while, the USA, China, India and Russia have continued their economic and political expansion. 

The renaissance of “class war”

It is a nice thing to live in the bubble of post-modern European peace and calm, but unfortunately, as bubbles are want to do, this can only last for so long.  A significant part of the world has been left out of the bubble.  They are young, angry and want to do something.  They are angry over the many centuries of oppression, angry because they were locked out of the good life.  At such times it is, of course, possible to explain using the index of productivity and indicators of innovation, but this does not usually convince angry crowds.  To the contrary!  Instead of thinking about all kinds of conflict between civilizations, ethnicities, or religions, now is the time to think about what happens when starving African youth in concert with Latin American protestors one day say “enough” and that they also want their voices to be heard, and for their century to come.  Let us not be naive.  There will be political powers that will support this “world revolution” also.

Even the Earth is working against us

Young members of the western middle-classes make a hobby out of occasionally talking about the subject of climate change. However, the situation is truly serious and demands a solution.  In the years to come the number of climate refugees will increase significantly.  Certain studies believe the Arab Spring was preceded by drought and an increase in food prices, and that the current migration crisis is the product of climate change.  Despite the best of our knowledge, the phenomenon is unpredictable, and it is difficult to forecast one year out what we can expect.  

What we know is the the change will mostly affect the areas that are the most populous and have the fastest growing societies.  Entire countries may be on the move from Africa, the Middle-East and who knows where.   If we are unable to solve the current migration crisis, then we cannot expect much good to come.  Not to mention the fact that the ocean levels are rising and there are more and more serious storms threatening the lives and economic centers of calm European life.

Let us obtain a new pair of eyeglasses!