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Feb 25, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Update to last week’s post addressed to the mic-grabbing political activist posing as a foreign correspondent

Last week, I published a post about a mic-grabbing foreign correspondent who attended last week’s Kormányinfo, the weekly press conference we hold with Minister János Lázár. You can read the entire post here, but what I said, in short, was:

1. A press conference has ground rules. A journalist who wishes to ask a question, requests permission and can then pose the question after being granted permission by the spokesperson. It’s not a free-for-all; and

2. I called out the journalist for his clear bias, saying his political activism undermined his credibility.

Well, there’s more on both fronts.

The correspondent, Dan Nolan, went to the Hungarian press to claim that his little scene at Kormányinfo was a ‘last resort solution’ to get his questions answered. In an interview with opposition news portal Mérce and commercial TV channel RTL Klub, Nolan claimed that he had to “resort to such tools to do his job” because I kept denying his request for interviews over the past two weeks.

That’s simply false. The correspondent wanted to pose a question about ownership in the Hungarian media sector. I had already told him that that's not the field of the government. Furthermore, contrary to a report that subsequently appeared in Hungarian media, I never summon journalists to deliver a message. If they request an appointment and we fix a date, I welcome them. What’s more, calling me out for ‘not doing my job’ is somewhat amusing given the additional detail we learned about Nolan’s political activism.

As I pointed out in last week’s post, a quick look at Nolan’s Twitter activity shows that he does not even bother with the pretense of nonpartisanship appropriate to a professional journalist. I listed three egregious examples here, here and here. But Nolan has also promoted a UK-based, far-left organization called “HOPE not Hate,” which receives significant funding from the George Soros network.

As I noted last week – quoting from the social media guidelines of the New York Times, no less – if “journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom.”

Professional journalist or political activist? You decide.