Following proven instances of defamation and falsehoods, pro-government tabloids Ripost and Origo have refused to give out the details of the authors of the slandering articles written against independent MP, Ákos Hadházy.
Independent MP Ákos Hadházy is one of the most active anti-corruption fighters in domestic politics. Actually, he was a Fidesz member long ago, and left the ruling party after exposing favoritism in the government’s tobacco-selling concession scheme soon after the government change.
It was first Origo and Ripost that began attacking him back in 2018, but soon all of the outlets under the Fidesz-linked media joined in. They accused Hadházy of cruelty towards his elderly, sick neighbor in his hometown of Szekszárd. According to them, the opposition politician turned off the neighbor’s water, deliberately flooding his flat and tried to rip him off. The accusations were actually made by the man’s daughter, who was also sued for defamation, together with Origo and Ripost.
According to the final verdict, made public by Hadházy himself, the neighbor’s daughter was found guilty of defamation and received a fine. According to the politician, she explained her involvement by claiming that “propaganda journalists” “harassed her,” and “wouldn’t leave her alone.”
In addition to the civil lawsuit, Hadházy launched a criminal one against the outlets, explaining that pro-government outlets would easily pay for the fines, “but a defamatory ‘️journalist’ with a criminal record, might count for something already.”
But unlike his neighbor’s daughter, Origo and Ripost got away unscathed, after their editorial staff claimed to the police that they didn’t know who had written the articles.
“The ‘brave’ propaganda press didn’t dare to reveal the authors of the anonymously published articles. This is how it is goes with propaganda: smearing anonymously, with no consequences,”
Ákos Hadházy commented on Facebook.
FactIn 2020, nine (roughly the most popular) pro-Fidesz outlets (Ripost, Lokál, Magyar Nemzet, Pesti Srácok, Origo, 888, TV2, HírTV and the state media) lost some 57 lawsuits for press rectification. In comparison, eight of those not linked to the ruling forces (RTL Klub, Átlátszó, Index, HVG, 24.hu, Magyar Hang, 444) only lost seven in total. Previous years brought the same tendency: in 2019, this was 61 against 4. In 2018 (the year of the previous elections), it was 109 against 14.
Momentum’s Donáth’s similar case
This is not the first such case of these outlets that ended similarly. After the EP elections, Origo put Momentum MEP Anna Donáth under fire, alleging that she sexually harassed an unknown girl after Sziget Festival. Since Origo failed to publish a correction, Donáth filed a lawsuit which she eventually won. (Anna Donáth got married in the same year Origo published its defamatory article).
She additionally also filed a private lawsuit for defamation, in which case the court has now terminated the proceedings without a verdict. According to the authorities’ reasoning, Origo‘s editor-in-chief, László Gábor, testified that he didn’t know who had written the article, nor who edited it, nor who decided to publish it.
featured image via Tamás Kovács/MTI