Last November the US State Department launched a 700,000 USD program to support media outlets operating outside the capital in Hungary to produce fact-based reporting and increase their audience and economic sustainability. Apparently, the program has been ended without winners.
After the announcement of the State Department, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned David Kostelancik, charge d’affaires at the United States’ embassy in Budapest. According to Fidesz group leader Gergely Gulyas – who is now the minister heading the PM’s office – it was “an attempt to interfere with Hungary’s affairs” and added that similar foreign attempts would not be tolerated by the US political elite, no matter where the money comes from.
The press attaché of the US embassy in Budapest, Richard Damstra told a weekly called Nyomtass te is! that “nothing is off the agenda, but after a comprehensive evaluation of the applications the department decided to have a different approach”.
According to Hungarian news site Index.hu, it has been rumoured for months that the program is to be scrapped. Index’s correspondent Szabolcs Panyi writes that he was attended several off-the-record discussions both in Budapest and Washington DC and it seems that Obama-era officials at the department wanted to go through with their program without the political support of the new leadership of the department and as their idea wasn’t prepared well anyway, they were bound to fail.