At the moment it is difficult to separate Hungarian government propaganda from Russian propaganda, our Senior Program Officer Eva Bognar told RTL.hu.
The article looks at Russian propaganda in the Hungarian media. As Eva Bognar said Russian propaganda had been spreading in Hungary for a long time, but the problem had been aggravated by the war in Ukraine. Much of the Russian disinformation spreading is not new but has entered Hungarian public discourse gradually over the years. Yet in the current situation it is difficult to separate Russian propaganda from the propaganda of the Hungarian government.
She thinks the government spreads different narratives on different channels. Some of the narratives, for example by “experts” on Hungarian public media, are straight out of Russian propaganda. Other programs offer much more balanced information. Some pro-government influencers even share anti-Russian messages.
Bognar explains this mixed messaging by saying the government is trying to target the whole range of the electorate, seeking to send tailored messages to different groups.
She also discussed different levels of disinformation in pro-government Hungarian media. On the most basic level, the media spread false information with bad intentions. On a more sophisticated level, the narratives matter more: the imagery, the language used, the framing can lead to a distorted picture. For example, it matters whether the media call the Russian aggression “war,” “conflict” or “special operation.”
The result is clear from a recent survey cited by the article that found that 43% of government voters and 28% of Hungarians believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was justified.
A war like this shines a light on long-standing trends in the media that might have been less visible. Now that a war and an election campaign were taking place at the same time, the importance of long-running narratives is growing,
World views take a long time to form, Eva Bognar added. Whether you accept a fact as a fact or view it as a lie depends to a large extent on whether it fits your world view.
Read the full interview (in Hungarian) here.