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May 03, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

On monsters and German propaganda: German state media ZDF takes things too far with its offensive coverage

Dear German ZDF: If you’re looking for real monsters to cover, Germany has plenty of its own.

On German public TV ZDF’s Friday night program Heute Show, host Oliver Welke spoke at length about how Prime Minister Orbán “rules by decree” thanks to a law passed to establish extraordinary measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic and detailed – erroneously – how the law creates sanctions against those who engage in scaremongering or the spreading of false information.

Funny man Welke then – and this is where they crossed that fine line that separates comedy from tastelessness – went on to compare the Hungarian prime minister to fictional, cannibal, serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

“Saw your portrayal of our prime minister,” I tweeted to the Heute Show yesterday. “Next time maybe consider this: If you’re covering monsters, it seems Germany has plenty of its own that you could focus on. Hit me up if you need some ideas...”

I know it’s supposed to be comedy, and one shouldn’t be bothered. But seriously?

Let’s look at some facts.

First, Hungary’s handling of the coronavirus is completely in line with European law, as Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova has said quite clearly. Hungary stands among the first in Europe to order a state of emergency and while the government may issue extraordinary measures, it may only do so to combat the spread of the epidemic. Meanwhile, Hungary’s National Assembly remains in session and is not sidelined in any way.

Secondly, our extraordinary measures work. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a quote from WHO country representative Ledia Lazeri: “[Hungary] succeeded in avoiding exponential growth [of confirmed coronavirus cases]”. And that’s largely due to our oft-criticized Coronavirus Protection Act, passed on March 30.

Thirdly, Hungarians overwhelmingly support the government’s steps against the spread of coronavirus. These extraordinary measures are popular with the Hungarian people, with 60 percent saying they should be extended until the end of the pandemic.

Photo credit: ZDF