Why is the Western media so exercised about Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s trip to Hungary? Led by the New York Times and the Washington Post, the mainstream American media have been outraged that Carlson decided to broadcast from Hungary last week, interviewing Orbán and generally sounding a positive note about the country and its government. Even BBC News carried a commentary piece with the title, ‘Tucker Carlson: What the Fox News host is doing in Hungary’.
At first sight, this extensive coverage devoted to denouncing Carlson for his trip, and in turn the Hungarian government, appears positively bizarre. The title of an article published by Insider protests that ‘Tucker Carlson did PR for Hungary’s authoritarian leader, presenting the country as “freer” than the US’. Adopting a tone of outrage, the author of the article is at a loss to understand how anyone could have anything good to say about the government of Viktor Orbán.
Anne Applebaum, whose hatred for the Hungarian government has an unrestrained, visceral quality, echoes this sentiment in the Atlantic. In her column, ‘Tucker Carlson’s Self-Loathing International Tourism’, she asserts that Carlson and ‘other conservatives who dislike today’s America’ have ‘happily assumed roles in an autocrat’s public-relations campaign’.
From this perspective, anyone who questions mainstream American elite assumptions about Hungary is guilty of a crime against humanity. That Insider piece takes great exception to Carlson’s accusation that the US media have lied about the situation in Hungary. The author also condemns Carlson for calling into question the authority of Freedom House, one of the Western media’s favourite NGOs. Freedom House, which has described Hungary as less free than South Africa, has been endowed by the US State Department and the British Foreign Office with the authority to decide which countries are free and democratic and which are not.
Carlson’s critics took particular issue with his interview with Orbán, arguing that he gave the ‘Hungarian leader a platform to promote [his] worldview and bash his Western critics’. It is as if these people want to No Platform Hungary’s prime minister. They don’t seem to see the irony of denouncing Orbán for being ‘authoritarian’ while insisting that he be deprived of a platform to promote his ideas. Cancel culture has gone global.
The Western media’s over-the-top reaction to Carlson’s visit to Hungary is telling. They are clearly concerned that the propaganda war they have successfully fought to discredit the Hungarian government might be set back if ordinary Americans actually get to hear what Orbán has to say.
The globalist media have succeeded in establishing a cordon sanitaire around Hungary. In effect, this means there can be no two sides to the situation in Hungary. Consequently, the media’s version of events – which suggests that democracy is dead in Hungary, that its government is an authoritarian dictatorship, and that fascism is just around the corner – enjoys hegemonic status. This dishonest, politically motivated representation of Hungary is so powerful that if anyone dares challenge it they risk the accusation of serving the cause of right-wing authoritarianism or fascism. Even commentators at conservative Western publications have started to internalise this narrative.
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