The fascist zombie returns to Europe

The fascist zombie returns to Europe

by digby

When the government takes over the media ....

Check out what's happened to the media
in HUngary when the Prime Minister and his rich friends decided to take action:

If you’re wondering what attacks on the news media around the world mean for the future of democracy, it’s worth a trip to Budapest. Consider it a cautionary-tale vacation.

When I visited Hungary recently, I knew I was entering a waning democracy that’s become increasingly authoritarian. I knew that Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a third term in April by convincing voters that a phantasmic combination of Muslim migrants, the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros and European Union bureaucrats was coming to get them.

But I only understood how Mr. Orban pulled this off when I spoke to Hungarian journalists. They explained that Mr. Orban first criticized the press for being biased against him. Then he and his allies took over most of it, and switched to running stories that promote Mr. Orban’s populist agenda and his party, Fidesz.

This happened fast. The investigative website Atlatszo estimates that more than 500 Hungarian media titles are now controlled by Mr. Orban and his friends; in 2015, only 23 of them were. Loyalty trumps experience: Hungary’s biggest media mogul is a former pipe fitter from Mr. Orban’s hometown.

In some cases, Orban allies bought publications and shut them down. One morning in 2016, journalists at Nepszabadsag, one of Hungary’s biggest dailies, were simply locked out of their offices. Its new owner, an Austrian businessman, claimed financial problems; the paper had just run a series of articles exposing government corruption.

Other news organizations were bought and transformed from within. Some now reportedly take their talking points directly from the government. Recent headlines at Origo — once a respected online news site — were a numbing assortment of articles about migrants wreaking havoc on various European cities and conspiracies about Mr. Soros.

Headlines were strikingly similar on the website of Lokal, co-founded in 2015 by one of Mr. Orban’s top advisers. Its free print version, handed out at train and bus stations, is now Hungary’s highest-circulation newspaper.

There’s still independent news online, but most Hungarians don’t see it. And when one of these websites exposes corruption, Orban-friendly publications align to attack it.

“This is what the government would like to teach society — that there are no reliable sources at all among those who criticize the government,” explained Attila Batorfy, who tracks the Hungarian media for Atlatszo.

This wouldn't happen exactly like that here. But you could see some billionaire media moguls deciding that it's in their interest to get with the program. Fox was set up to do that. But others could follow. Maybe some more takeovers and mergers could happen. Some pressure from the FEC, dominated by conservatives could help. It's hrd to imagine in such a big country with so many outlets. But you never know.

The fact that it's happening in Europe is disheartening, that's for sure. It seems that fascism just went dormant for a while. It didn't die.

And its cousin is here.