Date: September 30, 2017
BosNewsLife News Center
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)-- Central and Eastern Europe's first Christian news agency BosNewsLife has condemned Hungary's right-wing government for "blacklisting" eight journalists, including its founder Stefan J. Bos, who also reports for other media.
The Netherlands-born Bos is the only non-Hungarian journalist on the list published by the government-backed website 888.hu. Others on the list are all Hungarian or Hungarian-born reporters, photographers and producers of international media such as Reuters, Bloomberg, ZDF, Politico and the English-language website Budapest Beacon.
"I believe that am specifically targeted for the way I covered growing anti-Semitism, a Hungarian government crackdown on media and other previously independent institutions as well as corruption and more recently migration," Bos told BosNewsLife. "I reported on these issues for BosNewsLife, Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Vatican Radio Worldnews, Dutch BNR Newsradio and other Dutch media, Belgium's VRT Radio and Television as well as U.S. outlets such as CBS News and Voice of America among others," he added.
Bos said it is part of wider government action against him and other critical independent journalists. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs first declined to renew my accreditation. That was followed by an order to halt my radio, online and publication activities from my current address in the center of Budapest. Now they come up with that list. A reporter friend of mine compared it to the 1930s when step-by-step authorities started to limit the rights of Jewish people," he said.
Bos pledged to "continue" his work as a journalist in Budapest "as long as possible, including writing about persecuted Christians for BosNewsLife and human rights in former Communist nations such as Hungary."
888-hu, which has close ties to the ruling Fidesz party, defended its list saying the journalists are “serving the interests” of George Soros, a Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire, and philanthropist who is increasingly the target of attacks by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government. "Here is the list of 'Soros’s foreign propagandists,' the site announced, adding the names and biographical details of Bos and the other journalists working for international media outlets.
888.hu said Bos and the others mentioned on the list are providing “a propaganda service” for Soros branded by Orbán as Public Enemy No. 1. The government plastered the country this year with posters containing a photo of the grinning 87-year-old Hungarian Holocaust survivor with the slogan: 'Don't let him have the last laugh,'" in the debate on migration. The campaign raised eyebrows among representatives of Hungary's embattled Jewish community.
888.hu said the blacklisted reporters including Bos are neither “objective” nor “independent” and they “discredit” Hungary in the eyes of the outside world. "Stefan J. Bos who reported from Hungary for German and Dutch public media" [among others] "painting a rather one-sided picture of our homeland," 888.hu said.
"It was under the [previous Socialist government of Prime Minister Ferenc] Gyurcsány that Bos alerted the world of the dangers of impending Nazism, turning a blind to police terror, the unfettered looting of Socialists, and unprecedented state corruption," the site stressed.
It also referred to the refusal by BosNewsLife News Agency to register itself with the government-controlled Media Authority. Bos said it would mean subscribing to journalistic guidelines set by the state and would threaten BosNewsLife's independence.
888.hu disagrees. "Naturally, in 2010, Bos started to care about the rule of law, democracy and press freedom. As the star guest contributor for [non-government newspapers] Népszava and the late Népszabadság (1956 – 2016). Bos decided in 2011 that the Hungarian media laws are not applicable to him and refused to abide by them," the site said.
The website claimed that the listed reporters in Budapest are spreading "views – masked as facts" and "do everything to label the Hungarian people and Hungary in front of the international media." 888.hu stressed that "international media, with a few exceptions, generally write bad things about the government because a small minority with significant media influence does everything to tarnish the reputation of Hungary in front of the world — prestige that has been built over hundreds of years by patriots."
It cited "those familiar with the situation of the international press" as saying that "foreign journalists work with zeal when a right-wing nationalist government is in power in Hungary. These same journalists turn a blind eye to outright theft when left-liberal governments are in power. We can modestly say that the reporting on Hungary changes in line with changes in government."
888.hu said Bos and other journalists view George Soros as "their sugar daddy." Bos joked it was time "to send Soros a bill as I never knew that I was his spokesman." The Dutch journalist said the list comes amid a diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Hungary after the outgoing Dutch ambassador in Budapest accused the government of looking for outside enemies, just as Islamic militants tend to do while explaining their actions. "He said what
other European diplomats have been thinking or even suggested privately," Bos stressed adding that the "new Dutch ambassador has pledged to look into the list."
Several international organizations, including Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), have expressed concern about the blacklist. “These targeted attacks on journalists are extremely disturbing for media freedom and pluralism in Hungary,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union desk. “Such stigmatization of independent journalists who are critical of the government is unworthy of democracy.”
Dutch media, including major online news site amstelveen.blog.nl, leading fashion and news magazine couturekrant.nl, journalism magazine villamedia.nl, RTVA.nl television and others have reported on the situation. "Critics say that Hungary should realize that the European Union is not just an ATM-cash machine for subsidies, but also a 28-nation bloc based on solidarity and values such as press freedom. I agree," Bos noted.
He and other critics say that since the 2014 national election, Fidesz has used its massive media empire to run tabloid-like character assassination pieces on opposition politicians, members of civil society, independent journalists and anyone critical of the ruling party and the increasingly autocratic prime minister.
"Hungary is now just months away from parliamentary elections in April 2018 in which Orbán hopes to tighten his hold on power and boost the influence of his party, Fidesz," RSF explained.
Since Orbán’s return to the premiership in 2010, "democracy has been in retreat in Hungary," the group argued.
Hungary now ranks 71st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.