The Hungarian government has always had a strong relationship with Russia. This has changed since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine due to the fact that Hungary is, after all, a member of the European Union (EU). This is why Hungary could no longer keep such a strong connection to Russia as before. Still, the Hungarian right-wing media is known for its centralized opinions coming from the government. Therefore, it is crucial to explore which Hungarian right-wing media outlets are using Russian propaganda, how they are doing it, and what links can be found between Russian and Hungarian media.
The governing party uses its media to spread their ideas, which allows it to be more radical than in their own communication.
“After the turnaround in 2010, the media system was re-monopolized. More and more organs became the governments mouthpieces; above all, the channels, which had been downgraded from public service to state ownership, and many other privately owned presses. Media pluralism, i.e., diverse, factual[,] and objective information, is under threat”.
While the government changed their messaging concerning Russia, their media kept promoting ideas coming in from the Russian Federation. State television channels, newspapers, and online pages are still using Russian propaganda. They promote these ideas because the government has been pursuing a pro-Russian narrative for the past decade.
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As Hungary is a member of organizations such as the European Union and NATO, it is understandable that the government cannot talk about Russia in the same way as it did before, but their voters are used to the Russian narrative. This is why the right-wing media continue to use Russian propaganda, so as not to be seen as a sudden shift in communication.
Media can talk about the Russian aggression in a more friendly way and even can blame Ukraine for it. It is possible because the media simply can do more than an elected government. These media products are directed by the governmental propaganda machine, but as a journalist or a TV presenter you can still say that it is just your opinion. However, someone who is an elected politician does not have the same ‘freedom’.
The government uses its media to keep a good relationship with Russia and broadcasts fake information about the war for Hungarians. Interestingly, the Russian propaganda machine often talks about Hungary – to an extent that a well-known tv presenter willingly participates in this, which shall be discussed in detail below. It is also good for the government, because after years of Russian propaganda usage, the people who believed that information can still get those and are not subject to cognitive dissonance redundancy, but the government can say that they do not support the aggression at all.
In fact, the Hungarian government’s main message is that peace is the most important thing in the world, and the opposition side is the one who wants to force Hungary into the war. But their media is quite different.