Why it matters that Tucker Carlson is broadcasting from Hungary this week

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08/05/2021

This week, America’s most watched cable news host is broadcasting from an authoritarian state — not to criticize its leadership but to praise it. Fox’s Tucker Carlson is currently in Budapest, airing his show from Hungary’s capital city. In his Monday monologue, Carlson told his listeners that they should pay attention to Hungary “if you care about Western civilization, and democracy, and family — and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by leaders of our global institutions.” He tweeted out a friendly photo with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and is confirmed to speak at a government-supported conference in Budapest on Saturday. Make no mistake: Fox’s marquee host is aligning himself with a ruler who has spent the past 11 years systematically dismantling Hungary’s free political system. A 2021 report from V-Dem, the leading academic institute assessing the state of global democracy, found that Hungary crossed the line into autocracy in 2018. In March, Orbán’s Fidesz party was pushed out of the EPP, an alliance of center-right European parties, because its European peers felt it had strayed too far into authoritarian territory. Despite the increasingly clear evidence that Hungary has abandoned democracy, many conservative intellectuals in America have come to see the Orbán regime as a model for America. These right-wing observers, typically social conservatives and nationalists, see Orbán’s willingness to use state power against the LGBT community, academics, the press, and immigrants as an example of how conservatives can fight back against left-wing cultural power. They either deny Fidesz’s authoritarian streak or, more chillingly, argue that it’s necessary to defeat the left — a chilling move at a time when the GOP is waging war on American democracy, using tactics eerily reminiscent of the ones Fidesz successfully deployed against Hungary’s democratic institutions.

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