Follow the money behind Putin-Orban's influence operation to understand GOP's use of the Dictators Playbook.
“Anybody serious about commenting on the state of US democracy should start reading more about Hungary.” In other words, not only can it happen here but, if you look at certain metrics, it’s already started happening. Republicans may not be able to rewrite the Constitution, but they can exploit existing loopholes, replace state election officials with Party loyalists, submit alternative slates of electors, and pack federal courts with sympathetic judges. Representation in Hungary has grown less proportional in recent years, thanks to gerrymandering and other tweaks to the electoral rules.
Republicans could win back the House in 2022, amass as much power as possible at the state level, and then do whatever it took to deliver the Presidency back to the Party in 2024. A free but not fair election, captured partisan courts, the institutions of democracy limping along in hollowed-out form—these seemed like telltale signs of early-stage Goulash Authoritarianism. Now here the Americans were, studying at Orbán’s knee." - Lee Drutman, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins in The New Yorker
Follow the money behind the influence operation
Hungarian's pay firm linked to Dick Carlson (Tucker's dad)
In 2019, the Embassy paid two hundred and thirteen thousand dollars to Policy Impact Communications, a D.C.-based P.R. firm staffed by well-connected lobbyists. One of its board members is Dick Carlson—the director of the Voice of America under Ronald Reagan, the Ambassador to the Seychelles under George H. W. Bush, and, as it happens, Tucker’s father. - The New Yorker
FOX - CPAC connection
Fox News once banned its hosts from speaking at partisan events. Then it went all in on CPAC. The network’s streaming service laid out $250,000 to sponsor CPAC and some of its personalities gave speeches in an unusual arrangement.
Fox News host Pete Hegseth gave a rousing speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, telling the crowd of ardent Trump supporters that liberals are out of touch. His colleague Dan Bongino, a Fox contributor, urged people to “get back in the fight” to elect Republicans in an appearance at the same conference.
The sentiments expressed weren’t especially unusual for CPAC, a kind of Burning Man festival for the conservative faithful. What was unusual — and disturbing to some experts in journalistic ethics — was the Republican conference’s conspicuous affiliation with Fox, an ostensibly nonpartisan news network. Only a few months ago, Fox cracked down on appearances by its hosts and journalists at partisan events, deeming them a breach of the line distinguishing a news organization from a political-advocacy outfit. - Washington Post
'Pure Nazi text'
"The CPAC conference has drawn criticism for inviting far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who will speak Thursday. The leader said last week he doesn’t want Europeans mixing with people from outside the continent, leading one of his aides to resign after calling his comments “pure Nazi text.”
Other high-profile speakers include Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, radio host Glenn Beck of Westlake and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is the keynote speaker for Saturday night’s Cattleman’s Ball, a fundraiser with a $375 minimum ticket price. Bannon was found guilty of contempt of Congress last week for refusing to cooperate with investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The full schedule for the convention is available on CPAC’s website. - Dallas Morning News
DeSantis practices Orban tactics
Orbán’s political model has frequently employed a demagogic two-step: Stand up a feared or marginalized group as an enemy then use the supposed need to combat this group’s influence to justify punitive policies that also happen to expand his regime’s power. Targets have included Muslim immigrants, Jewish financier George Soros, and most recently LGBTQ Hungarians. Hungary’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” law — which the government labeled an anti-pedophilia bill — expanded both government control over curricula and its powers to regulate programming on Hungary’s airwaves.
You see a similar logic in DeSantis’s Florida. Alleging that classroom education on LGBTQ topics somehow threatens children, the governor and his allies pushed through a vague and broadly worded bill that empowers both the state and private citizens to go after schools that teach about LGBTQ identity. A moral panic about alleged LGBTQ “grooming” serves to justify the imposition of ideological controls on public education — and the speech rights of progressive and LGBTQ teachers. (Relatedly, both Orbán and DeSantis have taken aim at curricula and textbooks used in K-12 schools on expressly political-cultural grounds.) - VOX
- The New Yorker
- NY Times
- Vanity Fair
- Open Secrets
- LA Progressive
- New Republic
- Washington Post
TakeAway: Follow the Putin-Orban influence operation making the Republican party into a White Christian Nationalist party.
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