The protests that broke out in Hungary before Christmas against the overtime law have attracted surprisingly great attention from foreign media, although compared to other anti-government protests in Hungary, the latest have not been so great. The parallel wave of demonstrations in Europe from France to Serbia might have influenced the media attention.
Shortly before Christmas, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó gave an interview to renowned CNN editor Richard Quest in Quest Means Business. Interesting are the comments under the video, which, under the impression of the interview and mediated information only, were mostly written by foreigners. Usually, these comments were on the side of Minister Szijjartó, although in the interview, he advocates a measure that is unpopular.
Szijjartó, however, cleverly gets the editor into a defensive position and visible embarrassment while disproving one claim after another. Szijjartó is undoubtedly a skillful and talented English speaker whose capabilities help government popularity at home and abroad. It would be hard to find a Czech politician who would have had similar skills. BBC or CNN is like home to Szijjartó. He speaks English very well, has a pleasant and assertive performance, and never flies off the handle.
The latter makes Szijjartó the winner of interviews with biased activists who replace interviews with inquisitive interrogations, and the lack of preparation replaced by aggressiveness. Such is probably the case of the most famous Szijjartó interview with BBC editor Emily Maitlis, which has been very popular on Czech social media. Just the version with Czech subtitles has received hundreds of thousands of views.
It is impossible not to notice that besides the bias of some editors, a low level of knowledge of Hungarian politics that cannot be thoroughly understood without language skills, also help Szijjartó in the interviews. It is incomprehensible that such huge and financially secure newsrooms consider one-sided interpretations, filtered through their sources in domestic opposition, sufficient.
But the sources sometimes conceal essential nuances to make the situation look worse and to leave no room for doubt. They do not even bother to find out how the government communicates the issues. Then, it is not difficult for Szijjartó to break their propositions.