During a radio interview, Hungarian Secretary of State for International Communication Zoltán Kovács called out US left-wing media network CNN after one of their directors admitted in secret recordings that the network manipulated its news coverage to remove Donald Trump from office.
Kovács, a member of Viktor Orbán’s conservative Fidesz party, reacted to the revelations from activist news outlet Project Veritas, which recorded CNN technical director Charles Chester admitting “that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out”.
Kovács criticized CNN for a campaign during which they have “implanted doubts, discredited and undermined a democratically-elected political leader” on a daily basis. Kovács said the footage obtained by political activist James O’Keefe showed that the media was actively conspiring in the United States to achieve certain ends, adding that CNN has been employing similar tactics in international coverage for decades.
The US network even set up what they called, a “Misinformation Watch” on their website prior to the presidential elections intended to be a “guide to false and misleading content online”. At the same time, the CNN technical director bragged about manipulating public opinion during the 2020 election with tendentious and misleading reporting, using the motto “fear sells”. He has also promised to put the issue of climate change through the same treatment.
Reacting to the video footage, the Hungarian secretary of state opined that “the biggest problem with this is that apart from the fact that the world of media is naturally always receptive to opportunities to manipulate with regards to someone’s political opinions… is that the systematic manipulation that CNN had evolved into an art-form is one of the most dangerous things in recent history”.
Kovács also criticized the network for connecting its political goals with undermining people’s confidence during the coronavirus pandemic. In his view, this does not only represent political risks but will result in a real-world loss of lives.
Liberal media world-wide quickly closed ranks around CNN after the release of the Charles Chester footage. They called James O’Keefe, who is heading the fact finding initiative Project Veritas, a “right-wing provocateur” who was conducting a “coordinated disinformation campaign” making out-of-context claims.
Twitter, which is often accused of a strong anti-conservative bias, closed down Project Veritas’ account a day after the damaging footage was published. They cited “platform manipulation” and spamming for their decision. O’Keefe vowed to sue the social media giant for defamation, claiming that Twitter’s charges that he set up fake accounts had amounted to libel.
In its reporting, CNN has employed similar tactics in the Visegrád Four countries, most notably in Hungary and Poland, since the 2015 migration crisis. The network’s negative reporting on Hungary, labelling the current prime minister as “far-right” during his meeting with Trump, has been singled out for criticism by numerous commentators. They have also published articles by staunch critics of the Hungarian prime minister, one referring to Viktor Orbán as “neofascist”.
CNN reporters had strong words for Poland’s democratically-elected leaders as well. The government of Mateusz Morawiecki has been singled out for criticism particularly on account of their efforts to reform the country’s antiquated judiciary system, their anti-immigration stance and more recently concerning Poland’s strict abortion laws.
Referring to unnamed “critics”, CNN reported on Poland’s efforts to restrict abortion laws “as the latest attack on social freedoms by a right-wing government that openly disdains Western liberal values, uses homophobic rhetoric and has eroded protections for the LGBTQ community”. CNN has also accused the governing party and the Catholic Church of forming “a powerful bloc determined to impose an intolerant, ultra-conservative agenda”.