Dec 6, 2019
The Authoritarian's Playbook: Rewriting History in Hungary
Play • 30 min

It is often said that journalism is the first draft of history. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s dominance of Hungarian media gives him the power to not only write the first draft, but to rewrite history, in step
with his own nationalist narrative.

Over the past 9 years, media outlets in Hungary have fallen victim to Orban’s campaign to expand government control or to shut down independent media. Critics say Orban’s goal is to create his own media machine to control the political climate, and to deliver his party’s nationalist

So far, he has succeeded.

In the last 4 years, the number of pro-government news outlets in Hungary has shot up from 30 to over 500. Giving Viktor Orban control of over half of the news organizations in the country.

In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order.

Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

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