What can a journalist do when a prime minister hasn’t given an interview to the independent press in 13 years? Approach him in front of a church. And what does a prime minister say when he sees such a reporter moving up to him?
“Man, don’t you see I’m coming from church?”
This was the answer by Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán to a well-known journalist, which became an instant meme, mocking everything from corruption to press freedom.
Approaching someone after mass may seem rude, but Hungarian journalists have no other option. Being excluded from press conferences and not receiving replies is everyday reality for reporters who are not aligned with the ruling party, Fidesz. Some have been targeted with the surveillance software Pegasus.
As to why this is necessary, the political director of the prime minister once argued: the one who controls the media is the one who controls the country. But there is one thing they cannot control: jokes.