Former Open Society director: If it's not your friends in government, then whatever they do, it's just not good enough

In a Skype interview obtained by Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet, Andrej Nosko reveals the strong bias behind the reports of international “watchdog” organizations, including Freedom House.

In the latest chapter of the leaked Skype interview, former Open Society Foundations director Andrej Nosko shed light on the widespread bias against the Hungarian government in the international press. “It's a simple reality, the media is mostly staffed by left-liberal people. This is due to what you could call selection bias," Nosko explained.

Responding to a question as to whether this kind of bias is coming directly from the political parties, Nosko answered with “a resounding yes.”

“This is normal tribe and pack behavior. They come from a single grouping and won’t criticize their own kind,” Nosko said, adding that if there were a socialist prime minister in Hungary, international media and the European Union would handle Hungary differently.

As an example, Nosko recalled the case of former Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico and his strong approval ratings at the time when investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was murdered. According to the former OSF director, Fico did “things which were much worse than what the prime minister of Hungary did.”

Nosko also spoke out about the occasion when a Slovak Socialist politician, Monika Beňová, criticized the Hungarian media law. "I was entertained, but, you know, this is perverse entertainment when the media freedom in Hungary was criticized by an MP of Slovakia, Monika Beňová, who is there for the Socialist party and who was voting for a law which was significantly more restrictive in Slovakia [than the one adopted in Hungary]. And she had the audacity to criticize [a] media law that was not half as restrictive as the media law that her party had at home in Slovakia,” he said.

Wait for it, I’m just getting to the best part of the interview.

As the reviewer responsible for the Slovak chapter of Freedom House’s annual “Nations in Transit” report, Andrej Nosko has seen the functioning of such international “watchdogs” from up close. So I want to make sure to quote this part of the conversation word for word:

“Nosko: You can end up reading [reports] like Nations in Transit of the Freedom House. And I’m [the] reviewer for the Slovak chapter. And sometimes it's so irritating to see that instead of the analysis, essentially, you have agitprop. Essentially, whenever it's your friends who are in the government, then the country is doing well. If it's not your friends in the government, then whatever they do, it's just not good enough."

“Interviewer: So, you think that the Freedom House ratings are flawed in that sense?"

“Nosko: We would need to go chapter by chapter. No, seriously because, I mean, I don't read all of the chapters. I don't have the time for it. But at least the Slovak chapter that I have seen, and as a reviewer of the initial drafts, I have criticized the authors for a number of biases. I can make an inference that if this is the type of problem that can be seen in one chapter, it's possible that other chapters might have the same problem.”

Yes, quite possibly. Take a look at the Nations in Transit ratings of Hungary during the reign of the Socialists and Free Democrats – years of marked economic and social decline – then contrast those with Hungary’s scores since 2010 under the Orbán Governments – years of stability and growing prosperity.

None of this comes as a surprise, of course. But it’s striking when you hear it so candidly put by a source from inside the machine.

In a previous chapter of the leaked Skype interview, footage obtained by Magyar Nemzet, Andrej Nosko revealed how foreign journalists paint a distorted picture of Hungary in international media. Earlier this week, a Hungarian journalist who worked for leading, leftist outlets exposed international NGOs’ far-reaching influence over foreign journalists. Meanwhile, a former liberal MEP made headlines in Spain for speaking out against double standards in the case of Hungary and Poland.