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Hungarian government criticized in German public media

April 1st, 2013

Left-wing commentators criticize the government’s reaction to German public media reports which claim that undemocratic trends are the order of the day in Hungary. A conservative liberal blogger, on the other hand, believes that the German media habitually paint a distorted and biased picture of Hungary.

In a short cartoon on Hungary, KIKA TV, a German public children’s channel owned by the ARD and the ZDF claimed that the recent constitutional amendments tend to violate basic European standards. German children were told that the government tries to silence journalists critical of their policies, and wants the public to hear only positive news, which could result in the cutting of EU funding for the country. The Hungarian government rejected the allegation and hinted that it would try to seek legal redress. PM Orbán in his regular bi-weekly Friday radio interview said that if such lies were told on the Hungarian public television in order to brainwash children, “everyone involved would immediately get the sack.” NDR, a Hamburg based public TV in another sarcastic cartoon depicted the Hungarian Prime Minister as a hysterical clown, and suggested that the words of PM Orbán cited above are confirmation that he has full control of the media, and thus the Hungarian press is not free.

The cartoon shows that Germans take rules seriously, and want to instruct their kids at an early age to follow norms, Iván Andrassew comments in Népszava. The left-wing columnist, however, regrets the stigmatization and fears that young Germans will later think that “the Hungarian people are stupid,” since they tolerate an oppressive government.

By overreacting to the case, the Hungarian government has made a fool of itself, László Kálmán writes in Magyar Narancs. The film would have received much less attention, had the Ministry of Foreign Affaris and PM Orbán ignored it, the liberal linguist contends. The fact that the Hungarian government considered it so important to refute such criticism shows that something is indeed wrong with the country, Kálmán suggests.

In the meantime, the ZDF blog has published an article which claims that critics of the Hungarian government are going offline, out of fear that the government would tap their online activity. The author also claims that critics of the government (in particular those who publish in English) are labeled traitors or even conspirators by the government controlled media.

The German media nurtures a completely distorted image of Hungary, Gellért Rajcsányi comments on the ZDF article in Mandiner. The liberal conservative blogger points out that German news outlets tend to exaggerate and at the same time simplify complex problems, while ignoring any positive developments in the country. As a result, they create a tendentious image of Hungary which has absolutely nothing to do with actual reality, Rajcsányi notes.

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