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July 12th, 2011

In the first right-wing press reaction to the latest job cuts in public-service media, the editor-in-chief of Magyar Hírlap warns left-wing critics that each time their own friends took over the reins of power for the past 17 years, an ideologically-motivated media purge followed.

In an editorial published on Monday, István Stefka expresses his indignation about the language used by left wing commentators to describe the dismissal of 550 employees from public-service media last week. (450 more employees will be sacked in a second wave later this year). Journalists close to the opposition  reject outright the official explanation that the cuts aim to streamline the affected  media, and claim that left-leaning reporters have been systematically sacked, while right-wingers have been spared. Stefka offers a sample of the language used, phrases such as “bloodbath” and “slaughter”, and recalls that he himself was sacked as editor-in-chief of the state TV news as soon as a left-wing government came to power in 1994. When the Left returned in 2002, after 4 years of conservative rule, another wave of politically-motivated dismissals followed. He admits that the first right-wing government also had almost 130 radio journalists sacked in 1994 for political reasons, and “as a result, the governing parties then lost the elections.”

The editor in chief of Magyar Hírlap regards it as “a bad sign if professionals are forcibly evicted from the public media… Even the impression of a political purge should be avoided. Successive left-liberal governments have not managed to avoid this so far.”