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Jan 10, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Dear Mainstream Media: This is fake news and it’s why you’re losing your readership

This morning, Prime Minister Orbán held a press conference with nearly 50 media outlets, domestic and international. After an opening statement, he took questions for almost two hours (!) in a lively free-wheeling exchange.

(Read more about today’s Kormányinfo with Prime Minister Orbán in my blog post here.) 

What is the liberal Hungarian press and the international mainstream media talking about after the event? They’re spinning hard, complaining about media outlets that weren’t included. 

That’s outrageous.

AFP’s Peter Murphy, who’s articles about the Orbán Governments over the years have not exactly been glowing, fanboy prop pieces had this to Tweet regarding the PM’s presser this morning:

“Another stat, 7 critical media outlets say were denied access.”

By the way, this AFP correspondent was there and was allowed to ask several questions. He took his best shots. He knows better.

But in his cynicism he was not alone. Others took to Twitter to – forgive me – whine about why such-and-such a radio station or satire publication was not allowed to attend.

Let’s get this straight:

1. Nearly 50 media outlets were accredited. They included some of the Orbán Government’s most vociferous critics among the domestic and international press. See the list of accredited below. And many of these correspondents each had the chance to ask several, no-holds-barred questions. For those who know media on Hungary, that includes: Index, HVG, 444, RTL Klub, Blikk, 24.hu, AFP, AP, Le Monde, FAZ, ZDF and many more.

2. Yes, this press conference was by invitation. That’s not unusual for government press conferences. That’s how it works in the White House, too. Media have to be accredited and there’s not enough space for everyone. The critics would have a point if the room today was filled with conservative, pro-government media or if correspondents from critical media outlets were not allowed the opportunity to ask questions. But that’s not what happened.

Prime Minister Orbán gave dozens of media outlets nearly two hours of questions today in a punchy exchange that covered a wide range of topics from immigration to the Warsaw-Rome axis to corruption to the European Parliamentary elections and the protests in Hungary. And now some of the media are trying to spin it as a pro-government media event, some kind of quasi-censorship 

This is a classic example of why the liberal mainstream media is losing its readership. Many of them have lost all objectivity. They cannot step back from their own opinions and narrative on a subject like PM Orbán and Hungary – often times apparently very strident opinions – to report something with balance and based on facts. And when facts are inconvenient to their story, they try to sweep them under the carpet.

See for yourself. Here below is the complete list of media outlets accredited for today’s press conference.

AFP

Anadolu Press Agency

AFP

ATV

AP

APA

ARD

BBC

Blikk

Blogstar

Bloomberg

Courrier d’Europe centrale

Demokrata

Die Welt

ECHO TV

Euronews

Financial Times

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The Guardian

Heti TV

Hír TV

HVG

Index

Infórádió

Le Monde

Polish Radio

Lokál

Magyar Hírlap

Magyar Idők

Mediaworks

MTI

MTV

Népszava

ORF

Origo

Pesti Srácok

PPA

Reuters

RTL Klub

Szlovák Rádió

TV2

ZDF

Világgazdaság