Those who decry the walkout of the majority of the editorial staff of Hungarian news portal Index.hu as yet another sign of the government’s alleged campaign against the independent press should know that the portal’s self-perpetuated myths have no basis in reality, Magyar Nemzet columnist Zoltán Teveli writes, enumerating and refuting their false allegations.
1. Fake independence
For two decades, the editors of the portal have boasted their independence from political, economic or any other interference. In truth, during the same 20 years, the staff was under the direct political influence of leftist and liberal powers. During election campaigns, the “independent” collective functioned as a de facto propaganda machine. The editorial staff are the lackeys of the left and the liberals.
Despite their claimed independence, the staff both drew stellar salaries and had no problem serving the interests of a wide variety of oligarchs.
2. No quality journalism
Again contrary to what they called “quality journalism,” the staff were the pioneers of so-called gonzo journalism, where actual events, happenings and facts do not matter and are, in fact, irrelevant. Gonzo journalists are on an ego trip, and their reports are only concerned with their own feelings, opinions and reactions to those events. By definition, gonzo journalism eschews reporting reality and conveying reality to the public, as it also actively refutes reporting on real problems or fact-based criticism.
Gonzo journalists also look down on “retrograde” values, disparaging alternate views, values or opinions in an exclusive and aggressive manner.
3. False allegations of curtailing press freedom
For about two-thirds of the time since the 1990 regime change, the Hungarian press was characterized by a dominance, and later monopoly, of left-liberal media to the exclusion of variety or pluralism. The staff was a direct beneficiary of this state of affairs, yet not a single word was published during that time decrying the lack of press freedom. In fact, this was all occurring at a time when there was not a trace of press freedom in Hungary.
They were, in fact, the ones who took an active part in keeping things as they were, perfectly content to ignore civic, national, conservative, Christian-democratic opinions or the lack of real competition. Their approach to press freedom was also wrong: Press freedom is a fundamental human right that is about the citizens, not the journalists themselves. Yet the staff expropriated the right to define press freedom in their own way, disregarding any written or unwritten rules, effectively placing themselves above the law.
4. False claims of government intervention
Instead of government intervention, what in fact happened was the staff’s failure to accept an attempt at bringing the libertarian-hippie collective in line with reality, an attempt to make them step past their personal interests and subculture in order to focus on, or at least take into account, the real needs of the readers. They instead focused on only the “right” kind of people featured in their news, advertisers or even their own bosses.
5. The “courage” of group resignation
The group resignation was nothing but a farce meant to ensure the future of Index.hu and was by no means standing up for the reputation or quality of their trade. The resignation resulted from a combination of interests of their left-liberal paymasters, a yearning for martyrdom, ill intent, and the chance for more lucrative future positions. They then attempted to disguise their furtive political and business move as a morally superior deed.
Title image: The editorial staff of Index tendering their group resignation. (source: Index/János Bödei)