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Freelance journalist currently based in Berlin, chronicling the effects of populism on elections in Europe. Former Washington-based political reporter for CBS News, Politico and National Journal.
When liberal democracy is threatened, the free press is often one of the first groups to feel pressure. That's certainly been the case in central Europe, where Hungary's Viktor Orbán has worked to drive out or shut down critical media outlets, and Slovakian investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was murdered last year.
In this podcast, Central European University's Marius Dragomir gives an overview of how traditional business models in the region have been upended by illiberal governments, starting with Orbán's Hungary. (CEU, too, is one of Orbán's frequent targets.) Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to money: governments seek to make things financially difficult for independent and investigative news outlets, while providing funding for (or having allies purchase) government-aligned outlets that churn out propaganda. In other words, Orbán's government doesn't need to jail journalists in order to make it extraordinarily difficult for them to do their work.
Attention on central Europe, whether because of the media landscape or other political developments, is important because many see it as a sign of things to come elsewhere on the Continent if illiberal populist forces take power. Understanding how such leaders muzzle the press is a key to understanding how they operate and maintain control in today's political environment.