CNN Attacks Hungarian PM Viktor Orban As ‘Authoritarian Nationalist’

It’s old news that the media has tried to use the January 6 hearings to tar the entire Republican Party as fascist insurrectionists. What is new is CNN airing a segment on Tuesday evening’s Erin Burnett OutFront trying to link the riot to a broader worldwide “attack on democracy” by authoritarians of all stripes. They have evidence. CPAC invited Viktor Orban from Hungary, the conservative Hungarian PM.

To make the argument they were making clear, Burnett framed the segment by playing clips from that afternoon’s January 6 Committee hearing, “making it clear that democracy itself is under attack,” and playing a clip of former Proud Boys member Jason van Tatenhove saying, “I do fear for this next election cycle because who knows what that might bring.” 



Burnett allowed Sunlen Serfaty, a CNN Washington correspondent to narrate and edit the remainder of the video. With a headline trumpeting “GOP Accepts Autocrats, as the Jan 6 Panel Threatens Democracy,” she described Orban as “an icon on the right” and someone “attracting the adoration of some of the Republican Party’s top right-wing voices,” concluding with Steve Bannon telling his listeners to his podcast The War RoomOrban, the Hungarian equivalent to the America First movement was.

Calling Orban an “authoritarian nationalist and socially conservative leader,” Serfaty then listed all of the ways Orban had earned this moniker: “He has restricted LGBTQ rights, taken a hard line on immigration, promoted government control of the press, and pushed the white nationalist “Great Replacement” theory, pushing his country further right.”

Sprinkled throughout were clips of Orban saying things such as, “We have scored a victory so big, that it can be seen even from the moon, but definitely from Brussels,” “Liberal thinking in Europe now became the archenemy of freedom,” and “We can only show the insanity of the progressive left if there is media helping us.” 

Serfaty noted that the Conservative Political Action Conference hosted its first European conference in Hungary this May, “where Orban outlined a 12-point plan for how other leaders could emulate his approach.” 

To demonstrate Orban’s popularity on the right (and therefore the danger he poses), Serfaty pointed out that Fox’s Tucker Carlson hosted his show from Hungary for a few days, calling it, “a small country with a lot of lessons for the rest of us.”

With footage from the Capitol riot playing, Serfaty concluded, “As the country today is again reminded of the threat of growing right-wing extremism with the latest January 6 hearing, Democrats see warning signs for America,” before finally noting that Viktor Orban is slated to speak at CPAC’s upcoming conference in Dallas. 

It is obvious that the radicals who attempted to overthrow government in January 2006 are now allied with global autocrats to try to subvert democracy and suppress people’s will.

Yeah, right.

Viktor Orban is certainly a social conservative, and Hungary did recently pass a law forbidding LGBT content in children’s entertainment and education, a cardinal sin by leftist standards. 

None of the soundbites CNN played of Orban were particularly damning or surprising: calling for media to support your political view is not unique to either the left or right, but I guess not wholeheartedly supporting the EU is enough to earn the “authoritarian” label these days.

On the contrary, CNN admitted that Orban had “won a fourth term in office in April,” so his policies — unless CNN thinks Hungarian elections are rigged (which would be really ironic given the story’s framing) — seem to be supported by at least a plurality of Hungarians.

And while it is true that many conservatives admire Orban’s policies, it is also true that Hungary is not the United States. The two countries have vastly different histories and governmental systems, and — as any liberal HR assistant would tell you — working together with people of differing backgrounds and beliefs is necessary to achieve common goals. 

The beauty of conservatism as a philosophy is its ability to express timeless truths in a way consistent with a nation’s history and perennial values, but if you listened to the way CNN portrayed Orban, you would think he was the next Saddam Hussein. 

The ability to attack a head of foreign state made this possible. CarvanaAnd LeafFilter. You can find their contact information here.

Click “Expand” to see the relevant transcript.

CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
7.49.45 pm ET

ERIN BURNETT – Tonight’s testimony at the January 6 Committee hearing made it abundantly clear that democracy is being attacked.

[Cuts to clip]

JASON Van TATENHOVE [former Oath Keepers Spokesperson, January 6 Committee hearing, 7/12/22]: I do fear for this next election cycle because who knows what that might bring, if — if a president that’s willing to try to instill and — and — and — encourage, to whip up a civil war amongst his followers using lies and deceit and snake oil. And regardless of the — the human impact, what else is he going to do if he gets elected again? The odds are stacked against him at this point.

[End of clip]

BURNETT. This warning is from an Oath Keeper who was once a Republican Oath Keeper. Republicans invite Viktor Orban (the leader of Hungary) to talk at CPAC. CPAC is the biggest conservative conference of the year.

Sunlen Serfaty, OutFront is a right-leaning leader who has been working to undermine the foundations Hungary democracy.

[Cuts to video]

DONALD TRUMP [During meeting at the White House with Orban]Respected throughout Europe. Uh— probably like me, a little bit controversial.

SUNLEN SERVICE: Viktor Orban has been an icon to the right.

TRUMP [At CPAC Hungary, 5/19-22/22]: This man is truly a great man. He’s done an amazing job for his country.

SERFATY is Attracting the admiration of top-right-wing voices of the Republican Party.

STEVEN BANNON [On War Room]The Orban Foundation at one Level [Transition]That is MAGA America First here.

SERFATY – In April, the authoritarian and conservative socially conservative leader was elected to a fourth term.

VIKTOR ORBAN (via translator): We have scored a victory so big, that it can be seen even from the moon, but definitely from Brussels.

SERFATY: He has restricted LGBTQ rights, taken a hard line on immigration, promoted government control of the press, and pushed the white nationalist “Great Replacement” theory pushing his country further right.

ORBAN (via translator) [On ATV]The archenemy against freedom has become liberal thinking in Europe. Liberals in Europe are the enemies of freedom.

SERFATY – While fighting for Western liberal values.

ORBAN (via translator) [From Orban’s Facebook page]Our media should be ours. Media can help us show our insanity.

SERFATY – Often, speaking to and trying to influence Republicans in America.

Republicans hosted a CPAC conference again in Hungary in May. It was an extraordinary move. It was the first time that this gathering has been held in Europe.

ORBAN (via translator) [At CPAC Hungary, 5/19/22]: Hungarian Formula 1: Play by your own rules.

SEPARITY: Orban laid out a 12 point plan that other leaders can follow.

ORBAN (via translator) [At CPAC Hungary, 5/19/22]: This is the second, domestic conservatism.

SERPRIT: This ideology resonates in far-right circles. Fox’s Tucker Carlson hosted the show in Budapest, Hungary for several days last August.

TUCKER CARLSON [On Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/4/21]Hungary: A small country, but with many lessons to share for all of us.

SERFATY. Using Orban’s blueprint as a template for the future Republican Party.

CARLSON [At CPAC Hungary, 5/19-22/22]It is a beautiful country. [Transition]When you highlight the fact that our country has become a very poor place, people are often hysterical. Any signpost to a better path is what they don’t want.

SERFATY. As America is reminded by the January 6th hearing of the danger of right-wing extremism, Democrats are seeing warning signs.

CHUCK SCHUMER [At press conference]: To praise Orban, that shows you where this Republican Party is headed under MAGA Republican domination.

[End of video]

SERFATY (on Camera): Orban will fly to Dallas for CPAC Conference. This conference will be held in the first week August.

BURNETT – Sunlen, I am very grateful. Yes, it is fascinating and fascinating to see the person you are talking about.

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