The Paid Bamboozler

Ferenc Kumin

Ferenc Kumin

Ferenc Kumin serves as deputy state secretary in charge of international press relations at the Prime Ministry

As part of his job, he publishes an English-language blog entitled A Blog About Hungary

In his August 30 entry, “Exploiting the Roma Murder Trial,” Kumin charges that liberal-left journalists have utilized the racially motivated murder of six Gypsies in rural Hungary in 2008-2009 and the recent condemnation of the killers to life in prison to defame the Orbán government:

Inevitably, some of the media coverage tried to exploit the story to make a point, attempting to associate somehow these heinous crimes, which took place under the previous government, with the current government and ruling parties, and presenting biased, often offensive, conclusions about today’s Hungary.

Kumin specifically mentions an August 22 article in the U.S. periodical Atlantic Monthly, “Who Do Modern-Day European Nazis Hate the Most,” which is based on interviews with an opposition journalist and two pro-Gypsy activists in Hungary and highlights a quote from the former: “This country is divided on every topic except for hatred of the Roma.”

 “I’m sure I am not the only Hungarian who finds that insulting,” Kumin writes in the blog post, adding that “Using this murder trial to present the conclusion that Hungary and Hungarian people are intolerant and hate the Roma minority goes beyond the pale.”

Kumin is correct on this account. Although it is manifestly true that most people in Hungary  hold negative opinions of varying intensity toward Gypsies, it is a blatant exaggeration to imply that all Hungarians hate Roma.

What Kumin fails to mention in his blog is that that journalists and political officials who support the Orbán government have also fully exploited the Gypsy racial murders and subsequent trail of the perpetrators to sully the left-liberal opposition that was in power at the time of the killings (see Orange Files post Naming the Assassins and the article in the pro-government daily Magyar NemzetÉrthetetlen döntések a cigánygyilkosságok ügyében” [Incomprehensible Decisions in the Gypsy Murder Affair]).

Kumin does not present a balanced view of the politicization surrounding the Gypsy murders and trial of the killers because he is a government propagandist, not a journalist. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pays him a handsome salary of almost 900,000 forints per month (source), four times the national average, to counter international criticism of his government and present his administration’s actions in the most positive light possible. 

If Kumin were to follow his own advice to journalists writing about Hungary to “present a balanced, accurate picture,” he would very quickly find himself looking for another job.

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