Fox News star Tucker Carlson has continued his longstanding support and defense of Hungary and Viktor Orban, its re-elected authoritarian prime minister. In a recent broadcast, Carlson attacked critics of Orban’s reelection by making a fatuous comparison with the recent controversy in the US over mail-in election ballots:
April 4, 2022 How is it that an “authoritarian” just won a landslide in a nationwide election? Why is Viktor Orban an authoritarian and a proto-fascist and not just an unusually popular prime minister? So to answer that question Orban’s critics have to make stuff up. Do you officials are reportedly upset, and this is the greatest quote ever, “Mr. Orban has used his majority in parliament to rewrite election laws, redraw voting districts, and permit mail-in ballots without identity verification. [Carlson cackles] So it turns out, if you are authoritarian you might let people vote by mail and that cannot be allowed in Hungary. He’s an authoritarian for doing that. Unbelievable.
View the rest here.
In another broadcast, Carlson asked:
Why are they trying to tell us that Hungary is a hellscape? Maybe because Hungary’s government self-consciously tries to serve the needs of its own people. And if you see that here or you might ask why is my government not doing that for me?
In August 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported Carlson had spent a week hosting his show from Budapest, where he gave what was described as a “fawning interview” with Viktor Orbán and where he promoted Hungary under Orban as a model for the future of the US.
Carlson’s defense of Orban was noticed by Balázs Orbán (no relation), a Hungarian lawyer, political scientist, and university lecturer, who has served as Hungarian deputy minister, and parliamentary and strategic state secretary since 2018. Balázs Orbán used the opportunity to tweet an attack on one of his political opponents,
Carlson is not the only American influencer rejoicing over the Viktor Orban victory. On April 4, US national conservative Rod Dreher tweeted:
Viktor Orban wins crushing re-election victory. Groomers hardest hit. @GovRonDeSantis, you are onto something!
“Groomers” is likely a reference to the increasing accusation in US right-wing circles that critics of anti-gay and anti-trans legislation are somehow sexually indoctrinating school children. As a Washington Post columnist has written:
Much of the debate revolves around a bill just signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ® meant to shut down discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Dubbed by opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the practical implications of its vaguely worded provisions are less than clear. But its intentions are not: DeSantis is at the vanguard of a right-wing movement to create a new moral panic around schools, to convince parents that their children are being indoctrinated with bizarre and threatening ideas.
In June 2021, Hungary’s parliament passed a law banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s in what was described as an intensified campaign by Orban’s ruling party against LGBT rights.
Both Carlson and Dreher have figured prominently in a new and developing alliance between US conservatives and European nationalists, a potential means for Russia to exert covert influence in Europe and the US, using Hungary as a platform. GIOR recently published a report on this alliance titled “The National Conservatism Alliance: An Opportunity for Russian Influence?” The GIOR report details the role that Viktor Orban and the Hungarian government have been playing in the National Conservatism Alliance.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Earlier this week, we reported on the reelection of Viktor Orban, described as “the Russian President’s closest friend inside the EU and NATO.”