Shifted into Higher Gear

A Classic Example of Media Capture in Hungary

12 November 2019

Edit Zgut

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Instead of holding the government to account, the media serve as an instrument of influence over the public. They are utilised for attacks on political opponents and help the spread of fake news. In Central and Eastern Europe, pro-government mainstream media often are the main source of disinformation: Hungary is leading the charge in this regard.

Looking at Central and Eastern Europe 30 years after the fall of communism, the possibility of communicative action as the foundation of democracy has proven to be overly optimistic, at best. Roughly ten million people visit websites that spread disinformation and trust them as a relevant source of information for Central and Eastern European affairs.

The concept developed by Jurgen Habermas to explain how people aim to achieve mutual understanding and consensus throughout a cooperative search for truth based exclusively on rational arguments appears utopian in the age of disinformation and post-truth politics.

When Habermas first formulated his ideas regarding the ideal speech situation, it lacked any kind of reference to manipulation or the wider political context. The concept assumed that well-grounded arguments could be provided in the format of an open dialogue. Participants would not be excluded.

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Edit Zgut

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow. Political scientist and visiting lecturer at the Center for Europe at the University of Warsaw. PhD student at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Science. Focusing on illiberalism in Hungary and Poland and the constraining role of the European Union

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