The globalist Associated Press (AP) has attacked populist governments in Hungary and Poland, likening them to Erdoğan’s Turkey and accusing them of shutting down free speech.
“These are trying and dangerous times for the media in countries that until recently had begun embracing democratic norms of free expression,” AP ominously reports, in reference to central European nations that have begun reasserting their sovereignty and standing up to the European Union (EU). “News organizations are under attack in dramatic ways, as elected governments turn public outlets into their mouthpieces and try to silence critical voices.”
The AP further accuses the Hungarian and Polish governments of “undermining free expression,” following the example of U.S. President Donald Trump, who “condemns unfavorable coverage as ‘fake news’ and brands journalists ‘enemies of the people.’”
The threat in the U.S. “is not that First Amendment press protections will be directly overturned, but that the administration’s continued attacks could sow so much distrust that attempts to undermine the media will become accepted,” the AP writes, citing Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington.
With its opinionated, partisan reporting, however, the AP fuels the very distrust of mainstream media that they complain of.
In a bizarre and tendentious juxtaposition, AP compares Poland and Hungary to the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, despite the fact that they differ in nearly every respect—historically, culturally, religiously and politically. Even the Economist Intelligence Unit, in its Democracy Index, places Poland and Hungary alongside the United States as “flawed democracies,” while ranking Turkey a dismal 5 on its 10-point scale as a “hybrid regime” somewhere between democracy and a fully authoritarian regime.
What seems to bother AP most about Hungary is its forceful opposition to the creeping bureaucratic overreach of the European Union, which has tried to impose its will on Hungary through limitless immigration quotas opposed by the Hungarian people. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly asserted Hungarian sovereignty, insisting that the will of the people must prevail over unelected EU officials in Brussels.
In its unabashed push for a globalist agenda, the AP seems to think that the will of the unwashed must be made to conform to that of the enlightened elite establishment.
The AP further alleges that Hungary’s leftist newspaper, Népszabadság, closed last year “under political pressure” from the Orbán government, even though in point of fact the paper’s circulation had fallen precipitously from 460,000 in 1989 to a mere 37,000 in 2016 and had suffered severe financial losses in recent years. Heinrich Pecina, the owner of Népszabadság’s parent company, Mediaworks Hungary Zrt, said that he had attempted to sell the newspaper to the Hungarian Socialist Party, which refused the offer.
There have been “apparent attempts” to intimidate reporters working for international outlets who have reported on a state-sponsored campaign against George Soros, the AP suggests, without citing any evidence to this effect.
The AP describes Soros benevolently as a “Hungarian-American investor,” a “philanthropist” and a “Holocaust survivor,” while failing to mention the billionaire’s history of destabilizing governments for personal financial gain, funding left-wing campaigns and being convicted of insider trading.
Soros, the AP alleges, “has long promoted what he calls an ‘open society’ and supports controlled migration. He funds a university in Budapest and civic organizations, including some seen as critical of Orban.”
The AP criticizes the Orbán government’s opposition to Soros along with their investigation into his attempts to bring his tremendous financial influence to bear on Hungary’s political situation.
As for Poland, AP claims that its “right-wing populist government,” which has been in power for two years, “has been repeatedly condemned by the European Union and others for eroding judicial independence.” The Poles, like Hungary, have also resisted EU attempts to impose arbitrary immigration quotas.
For many in central Europe, of course, being “condemned” by the European Union is seen as a badge of honor.
Moreover, among Poles, the government is enjoying enormous popularity, according to pollster Kantar Public, with the job approval rating of both Prime Minister Beata Szydło and that of her government the best since Poland’s conservatives were elected in November 2015. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, meanwhile, enjoys an enviable job approval rating of 54 percent.
People of good will should defend the right of the Associated Press to express its views, but no one should be naïve enough to think it is not pursuing a very clear political and social agenda. For all the squawking about “impartiality” and “freedom from bias,” the veil has now been ripped off.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on TwitterFollow @tdwilliamsrome
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