Former Open Society director: Foreign journalists paint a distorted picture of Hungary

Former Open Society Foundation director Andrej Nosko admits to an unfair, biased campaign against Hungary and Poland in a lengthy Skype interview leaked to Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.

According to Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet, the newspaper has recently received a trove of documents from an unidentifiable email address. Among these is a several-hours-long Skype interview with a certain Andrej Nosko. But who is this guy and why does he matter?

Andrej Nosko holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from George Soros’s Central European University and until 2018 worked at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), serving as director and then division head. He oversaw the distribution of grants to think tanks in OSF’s Europe division and was respsonsible for a staff and, reportedly, a budget of some $10 million per year. Nosko is currently European director of PILnet in Budapest.

In the recording of the interview obtained by Magyar Nemzet, Nosko had some surprising things to say. Well, surprising in that they sounded a little unusual coming from a person so closely tied into the Soros network.

Responding to a question about the reasons behind the international media’s focus on Hungary and Poland, the former OSF director admitted that most press reports paint a distorted picture of the two countries.

“I don't think that linking the affairs of Hungary and Poland is in itself a very honest thing to do. The two countries, like other states in the region, have their own problems, but they are all different. If we take Poland and Hungary, for example, we see a completely different style of leadership, a different economic structure, and a different relationship of government with civil society,” Nosko said.

According to Nosko, it’s caused by a decline in the quality of European media. “The problem can be illustrated by the fact that there are far fewer foreign correspondents in the mainstream media, covering the affairs of more countries,” the former OSF director said. He explained that this, in turn, has led to intellectual laziness in the mainstream media, which has also played a central role in the development of the phenomenon outlined above.

“This leads to a situation where it is very easy to castigate Poland and Hungary without any real arguments," Nosko said. In other words, he added, these reports are biased.

He then recalled that when he worked for Open Society Foundations, foreign correspondents typically asked the organization if they could recommend someone to talk to on a particular topic. Those contacted, who were biased to varying degrees, usually recommended their own colleagues, that is, people with convictions similar to their own.

“On several occasions, I myself have hired journalists to promote the material of think-tank fellows. So, the game was not very evenly matched," said Andrei Nosko, who believes that the language also makes it relatively easy to misrepresent what is happening in Hungary.

“Not many foreign journalists speak Hungarian, so they can't talk to ordinary people, for example, and they can't read the local news,” Nosko explained.

“I say this from my own experience, as I knew several former correspondents who could neither speak nor read Hungarian,” Andrej Nosko said in the interview. Therefore, most of them can only rely on secondary sources.

Nosko added that these secondary sources are often highly biased, among other things, about the legitimacy of the Hungarian government. According to him, for example, there is typically no mention of the fact that the Hungarian cabinet is actually very popular with a large part of society. "Instead, they say that the government maintains its power by restricting freedom," Nosko concluded.

Nosko is not alone among the insiders of the left-liberal mainstream who have recently spoken out against the bloc’s bias against Hungary and Poland. Just last week, in a series of private conversations, former liberal Spanish MEP Carolina Punset revealed that, in her view, the true enemies of freedom of expression are not Hungary and Poland, but the advocates of political correctness in Brussels.

According to Punset, if MEPs have truly adopted a principled position on freedom of expression, they should take a stand against the violent attacks on journalists and teachers, the case of Charlie Hebdo and Samuel Paty, for example. Instead, liberal MEPs are focusing their attacks on places like Hungary and Poland, where freedom of expression is still defended from the shackles of political correctness.

Is it me, or does this have a familiar ring? It’s a serious day indeed when people like this start sounding like yours truly.

Photo credit: Facebook - Andrej Nosko