Tucker Carlson did public relations for Hungary’s authoritarian leader
- Tucker Carlson gave the authoritarian Hungarian leader a platform to disseminate his xenophobic views.
- Carlson presented Hungary as “freer” than the United States.
- Carlson did not mention how Orbán strengthened oversight of the country’s elections, media and courts.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday whitewashed the autocratic record of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, presenting the authoritarian leader’s political approach as a model for the United States.
Carlson, who broadcasts from Hungary all week, accused the US media of lying about Orbán and his repressive and undemocratic policies. And he presented the United States as less free than the country of Central Europe by attacking a democratic watchdog that has sounded the alarm over the erosion of democratic institutions in Hungary.
“Who is more free? Carlson said. “If you are an American, the answer is painful to admit.”
“Freedom House, an NGO in Washington funded almost exclusively by the US government, describes the country as less free than South Africa, with fewer civil liberties. This is not just wrong. It is insane,” he said. Carlson said, not to mention the ways Orbán rigged the Hungarian political system to favor his party or how he filled the country’s courts with allies while tightening control over the media ecosystem.
—Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) August 3, 2021
It wasn’t just Freedom House that raised concerns about Orbán. Numerous human rights organizations, democracy watchers, political scientists and historians have pointed to the myriad ways in which Orbán tightened his grip on the Hungarian political system while preserving the veneer of democracy.
Reporters Without Borders in July, for example, named Orbán as one of 37 “press freedom predators” around the world.
In an interview with Insider last year, Sheri Berman, professor of political science at Barnard College and author of “Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe,” said: “At this point Hungary is a dictatorship in its own right. or corn. “
Orbán is unabashedly xenophobic and fanatic, instituting policies against migrants and the LGBTQ community that have been condemned around the world.
“The government used the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to attack the rule of law and democratic institutions,” Human Rights Watch said of Hungary. “The government has made access to asylum almost impossible, interferes with independent media and academic freedom, and undermines the rights of women and LGBT people, including by blocking the implementation of the Istanbul Convention which aims to prevent violence against women.
—Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) August 6, 2021
But Carlson, who espoused white supremacist conspiracy theories on his show and regularly attacks immigrants, effectively did what amounted to public relations for Orbán. The Fox News host introduced the Hungarian leader as a pro-family leader who protects his country’s borders, not to mention how the European Union’s Supreme Court – the European Court of Justice – ruled last year that Orbán’s government had illegally deported refugees to Serbia. .
Orbán’s border policies are motivated by ethnonationalism, and he made no secret of it. “We don’t want to be diverse,” Orbán said in a 2018 speech, adding: “We don’t want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.”
In the interview released Thursday, Carlson gave the Hungarian leader a platform to promote this worldview and disparage his Western critics.
“You have to defend your country,” Orbán said. “It’s our country. It’s our people. It’s our history. It’s our language.”
“It’s not a human right to come here. No way. It’s our land. It’s a nation, a community, a family, a history, a tradition, a language,” Orbán added.
The Hungarian leader said he was criticized by “Western liberals” for not accepting that there is “a conservative national alternative which is more successful in everyday life”.
Carlson didn’t back down.
Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.