SorosLeaks: NGOs offer paid trips and full board to journalists willing to report the right story

The latest on leaked Skype interviews obtained by Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet reveal new details about how human rights organizations assert influence over journalists to publish material critical of sovereign countries, including Hungary.

Paid trips, smart hotels and restaurant lunches are exploited by NGOs to buy journalists to depict the desired narrative about certain countries. In a Skype conversation obtained by Magyar Nemzet, Andrei Nosko, former director of the George Soros Open Society Foundations (OSF), said he had paid journalists on several occasions for the above-mentioned purposes.

As OSF head, he hired a journalist to promote a publication of their think-tank, and on one occasion, he took on another one for a month to write about anti-corruption cases. He added that since it is a tricky issue to pay a journalist a fee, they typically “just cover the costs.” In the case mentioned, the amount charged for the journalist’s accommodation, meals, travel and interpretation for one month amounted to almost EUR 10,000.

Nosko admits that they actually have people in place for such tasks, for example, Andrew Connelly, who has previously attacked Hungary and other countries over the migration crisis. He even indirectly blamed the Hungarian and Polish governments for the fire in the refugee camp in Lesbos owing to the two countries rejecting the mandatory distribution quotas. also called Fidesz far-right and falsely stated that the Hungarian government was starving asylum seekers.

Nosko additionally pointed out that material that does not fit into international papers dealing with daily politics such as Politico or the Financial Times can be published in more of a report format in magazines such as New Europe, Visegrad Insight or even National Geographic. To grab the attention of newspapers, he said, it is possible “to create news value.”

He also noted that the production of such reports is made smoother thanks to grant schemes available in many countries to fund anti-corruption organizations.

In another video, Orsolya Jeney, former director of Amnesty International, speaks about how human rights organizations are trying to get the foreign press to write about certain issues in the way they want.

Journalists coming to Hungary receive “special treatment,” she said, explaining that “it is essential, for example, that we go out to brunch with them, or if we publish a report, we feed them. They’re more likely to write these things if you have that kind of communication package.”

She also spoke about her collaboration with Nick Thorpe, BBC’s Central Europe correspondent: “I just had to say, hey, listen Nick, there’s something here that might interest you.”

While Magyar Nemzet exposed the manipulation and influence of NGOs and the international press in its SorosLeaks series, similar articles have also appeared in the foreign media.

A few weeks ago, the European liberal political elite was exposed in the Spanish press, making it clear why Brussels is constantly scrutinizing and harassing Hungary and Poland, while it is more lenient with other Member States. Periodista Digital published a lengthy article summarizing conversations of Carolina Punset, a former Spanish MEP, discussing the double standards applied by the Western liberal elite. This group, she said, does not dare to take action against Islamic extremism because of the large Muslim population in Brussels; on the other hand, it will not face political consequences for criticizing Hungary or Poland.