Orbán regime shuts down conservative Századvég journal

The conservative Századvég journal, unwavering in its loyalty to the government of Viktor Orbán for the past eight years, had its most recent issue deleted from the internet and its editors fired for publishing an article that was critical of the manner in which the current government handles the question of benefit programs and public salaries. The journal’s current issue explored the question from different perspectives and from different authors, including Péter Ákos Bod, the former Governor of the Hungarian National Bank (1991-1994) and Minister of Industry and Trade in the conservative government of Prime Minister József Antall.

Publishing Mr. Bod’s article led to the dismissal of Editor-in-Chief Tamás Demeter, as well as the entire team of four who edited the publication. Upon hearing of the mass firings, half the committee that oversees the publication resigned in protest. The Századvég Foundation, which owns the publication, then deleted the entire “offending” issue from its website, to leave no trace of any criticism of the party state.

Around a year ago, Századvég asked Mr. Bod to contribute to an issue dedicated to the question of government benefits and salaries. Mr. Bod’s article criticized the government for skewing the market by first cutting back or withdrawing benefits and then redistributing them. Other authors writing in the same issue and on the same subject took a different perspective on the question. These contributors included Iván Szelényi and Péter Mihályi. But it was Mr. Bod’s criticism of the manner in which benefits and wealth is redistributed that led to the mass firings of the editorial team and the removal of the issue from the public.

Zsolt Rúzsa-Barthel leads the Századvég Foundation and explained the situation around the firings and the deleted issue: “The task of this publication will be to support the government’s direction.”

Earlier, two other conservative publications were also shut down by the party state: namely Kommentár and Heti Válasz.  In the case of Kommentár, the editor-in-chief and the editorial team left their positions when they were informed that the publication would become “more government-friendly.” Prior to that, the conservative Magyar Nemzet ceased publication and HírTV’s team of journalists were fired as the station returned to a state of unquestioning loyalty to the party. As well, the conservative Mandiner news site, previously open to opposing views, was instructed to fall in line. These are all conservative victims of the regime. Our readers will recall that Hungary’s largest national daily newspaper, the centre-left Népszabadság, was shut down by the party state from one day to the next in 2016, using an Austrian proxy.

Gáspár Miklós Tamás summarized the situation aptly when he wrote: “Just as Soviet-style regimes were most fearful of the ‘left-wing risk’…so too the destructive rage of the Orbán regime now targets the ‘wayward right-wingers,’ from Jobbik and the Simicska media to moderate and intellectual conservatives.”

Hungarian journalism has lost an immense amount of talent over the years–reporters from all political stripes fell victim to the party’s power. True, the media purge began with those perceived as too liberal or left-wing. But in 2018, scores of conservative journalists who for most of the past eight years derided or scoffed at the opposition when it drew attention to attacks on independent media are now out of work and have no prospects in Hungary. At this late stage, they hardly have anyone remaining to defend them. Had Martin Niemöller’s timeless words not been forgotten in Hungary, perhaps the situation today would be less bleak.

16 Comments

  1. Oops, this is a tough one even for the trolls to comment. It is a deeper punch talking about the media situation in Hungary, than the one just appeared in the KMH, where the ignorant trolls still could vomit their propaganda views.

  2. The former Orban fans helped build the dictatorship. They were okay while the targets were liberal journalists–“anyone but me” was their philosophy. Now Fidesz has turned the guns on them and they’re upset. Sorry, but I’m finding it hard to feel very bad for them.

  3. StrandedinSopron says:

    It hints at an ever-increasing level of paranoia in the higher echelons of the Orbanist state-Szazadveg possesses no threat whatsover to the regime but still vaguely opposing voices must be silenced.

    As for the fate of the journalists? Well, their silence when their colleagues lost their jobs in earlier purges was deafening. I hope they enjoy their new roles cleaning hotel rooms in London.

  4. Seems that Hungarians are always behind the times, even when it comes to installing an “authoritarian regime”. Sure, they are squashing dissent in the media. But the West has been doing that for decades, replacing common sense with PC. But still, as is often the case, Hungary tends to lag far behind. For instance, in France, dissenting politicians, not on board with the establishment are being sent by court order to see a psychiatrist.

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/france-s-le-pen-ordered-to-undergo-psychiatric-tests-over-is-tweets-10741458

    Now that is doing it USSR style!

    When Orban’s courts will send Gyurcsy to see shrink, we can say that Hungary is finally caught up to the West on something, till then, still lagging behind!

    • Idiotic comparison Fidesznik Joe.
      The law in France allows it and “such tests were routine in cases involving the dissemination of violent messages.” and the courts treat all equally under the law.
      OMG! This can never happen in Orbanistan, right.
      When it was reported that Orban, the MÀV CEO (State railways) and other public figures who have been taking trips and holidays on the jet or motor yacht of major suppliers, the PM Office spokesman declaredt this doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny, so everything was ok.
      Just as the Nat Bank (cum fin industry supervisor)President Matolcsy lived in a 5* apartment owned by a bank CEO, or Dep. PM Semyen took hunting trips paid for by another gov supplier.

  5. All revolutions devour their children. Orbán’s is no different. What is puzzling to me is why so many insist on calling this neo-fascist, post-modern autocracy a populist, or a hybrid regime ? Only an utter idiot could call it a democracy.

    Like Hitler ‘s, Mussolini’s or Horthy’s regime, big business loved each of the autocrats. They silenced the Trade Unions, were able to generate economic growth, and were actually quite popular with the middle classes, never mind the wealthy. (To add insult to injury, Orbán’s economic miracle – never mind his own personal wealth – was financed by interest free subsidies by the EU.) What about the peasants and the lower classes ? They never cared much about politics. The church was always there to tell the underclass to relax, if they behave, confess their guilty thoughts, and actions, and kiss ass, they’ll get a ticket to ride to heaven. No wonder, Orbán became a Christian, after failing three times at the polls. He sucked up to Rome, the Catholic Bishops, gave them back their properties, schools, privileges, ditto the Calvinists. While Orbán keeps the peace in the urban centers, the church and the local governors keep the peace in the villages and small towns. He’s got all the bases covered like his ex-KGB buddy in Russia with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Any one who says crime doesn’t pay, should have their heads examined. The Hungarian autocrat has his crew working overtime on Bay Street, and in the diaspora. (All you need to do with the diaspora is wear an anti-communist vest, with a tricolor, and have a cross around your neck, and you are free to do as you want.) And then, you have the hardworking trolls down here – Morrison, Bendy-goose and their friends (by the way, what happened to Peter ? Was he reassigned to another underpass ?)

    The only thing that is certain is, that nothing lasts for ever. This is a good time to be a rebel. We shall overcome !!!!!

  6. @ Joe

    My apologies old boy, I forgot to list you among the bootlickers. Thanks for reminding us where you stand chump.

  7. Regarding the above story – the title is a bit misleading. The journal in question has not been shut down. It’s editor was fired and the rest of the Board resigned. The last issue was shredded. I have submitted a copy of that issue before it was shredded to the editor, Christopher Adam and he will make the URL shortly accessible to all on this site.

    Strictly speaking Századvég, the foundation that finances the Journal, can do whatever it wants with its money. It has the right not to allow its editors to bite the hand that feeds them – and the feeder of that Foundation is the Orbán government. Századvég was, has been, and always will be a Fidesz house organ. I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about now.

    The much bigger scandal is, how much of taxpayers’ money is spent on Századvég to finance Fidesz lobbyists in the US to whitewash the Orbán government’s rule of law violations, its corrupt practices, its nuclear deal with Iran, and its support of Russia’s interference in the last US elections. Századvég has paid millions of dollars to Connie Mack the IVth, to the Magyar Foundation, headed by Jo An Barnhart, and to members of the Hungarian Lobby in the American Congress, as a way of bypassing FARA regulations. The biggest scandal is that the American mass media, and American legislators have turned a blind eye to this practice. One can only hope all this has not missed the attention of the Special investigators on Robert Mueller’s team.

    • No OMG, no great surprise here,
      similar to the pressure on Pröhle and other “moderate” fideszniks, this episode is part of the post election steps of the regime along the road to full blown dictatorship.
      It also shows that ever less consideration is given to expert opinion, professional cadres are being fired, marginalized or at best subordinated to mediocre or worse sycophants, aparatchiks and party soldiers who’s main credentials are their sucking up the party and it’s leader. We know how this ends and it confirms that the Orban mafia are the worst enemies of the nation.

    • Oh my gosh is right when you read an article calling Népszabadság the main daily paper of the former Communist party centre-left. It was not shut down by the state since it didn’t belong to the state. It was shut down by its owner for not being profitable any more. The other statements of this article are similarly biased if not outright lies.

  8. Hungarian Free Press says:

    As mentioned by András Göllner, after Issue 88 was deleted from the Századvég site, the fired and resigned editorial team circulated a samizdat PDF copy of the same. It is has since been uploaded here:

    https://pestibulvar.hu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/SZV_88_beliv_nyomda.pdf

  9. StrandedinSopron says:

    “It was not shut down by the state since it didn’t belong to the state. It was shut down by its owner for not being profitable any more. ”

    Despite your name Ilona, I can’t believe that you actually live in Hungary if you sincerely believe that. No newspaper in Hungary is “profitable” in terms of having enough readers buying it to produce a profit having paid journalists’ salaries and other costs. Not one.

    The pro-regime zombie media only exists because the Orbanist State uses our tax money to keep it alive.

    You can make the valid argument that the free market (ie number of readers, viewers etc) should be the only determinant of whether a media outlet continues to exist. If that is the case, then I will cheer the day the journalistic ammoral mercenaries in Origo, Magyar Hirlap, Magyar Idok receive the fate they deserve…a kick onto the unemployment market

  10. @ Ilona Sziráki

    If one of my first year university students came out with an explanation like yours (i.e. one that offers no factual evidence to support its position) I would send him/her back to high school.

  11. Sandor I Lengyel says:

    It is true that the Orban government supports the loyal press. But in my opinion most political media including the opposition should be selfsustaining. I am sure they are in the USA and if not they close down. The Magyar Nemzet and the HIR TV existed in the last 4 years due to the support of Simicska, who stopped giving it money since he failed toppling the Fidesz government. Some other inaccuracies in the article and comments. Opposition media exist. HVG, Index.hu, Napi.hu Vasárnapi Ujság etc. And the Mandiner does even now publishes opposition views. Probably around 30 percent. But it was always a right leaning publication.

  12. StrandedinSopron says:

    “But in my opinion most political media including the opposition should be selfsustaining. I am sure they are in the USA and if not they close down.”

    Population difference between US and Hungary?

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