Fact-checking Tucker Carlson: 10 lies from the documentary “Hungary vs. Soros”

Fox news host Tucker Carlson published a documentary titled: “Hungary vs. Soros: The Fight for Civilization” a few days ago.

The 25-minute movie, which was shot last summer in Hungary, praises prime minister Viktor Orbán and his policies, most importantly how his government:

  • confronted the Hungarian born american billionaire, George Soros,
  • implemented measures against immigration,
  • while supporting Hungarian families.

In the documentary, Carlson doubles down on a number of messages often used by the Hungarian government and some American conservatives against George Soros. These are typically highly subjective statements presented without evidence. According to Tucker Carlson

  • Soros has spent decades waging a “political, social and demographic war” on the West,
  • has spent billions trying to eliminate national borders and to oust democratically elected leaders, 
  • and to install “ideologically aligned” puppets in the positions of power.

In the movie, Viktor Orbán adds that the influence of Georg Soros is more powerful in Europe than in the United States. “This is his main hunting area,” claims the PM.

Besides these subjective statements and theories, there are also a number of factual claims in the documentary. We fact-checked these factual statements. We present those claims that are partially or completely untrue, in the order they appear in the documentary.


Claim 1: There are only 9 million Hungarians in the world

According to the latest data of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, the country has a population of 9.7 million. However, there are more Hungarians living outside of the borders of the country. The government currently estimates that there are about 12 million Hungarians living in the Carpathian Basin (in Hungary and in neighboring countries, including Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia), while another estimated 2-2.5 million Hungarians live in diaspora outside the Carpathian Basin.


Claim 2: Georg Soros has a network of more than 60 organizations in Hungary, which are all against the government


The  Orbán-government started using the term “Soros-Plan” around 2016-2017. Under the plan, George Soros supposedly funds a network of NGOs and international organizations to flood Hungary and Europe with immigrants. As the debate around the topic intensified, a number of Hungarian pro-government media outlets had compiled their own lists of the members of the Soros network: 888.hu counted 21 organizations, Magyar Idők listed 66 members, while Pesti Srácok named 14 “lobbyist offices” representing Soros' interests in Hungary. Pro-government print weekly, Figyelő even published names of individuals (some of them already deceased), allegedly members of Soros’ “2,000-strong mercenary army". 


The size of the network is not the sole questionable point in the government’s communication and in pro-government media reports. It is not obvious how and why an organization gets labeled as a member of the Soros-network. According to Orbán, all members of the network are against the government - however, he does not identify these organizations, and he does not provide any evidence of their alleged anti-government stance. 


The Open Society Foundations (OSF), founded by Georg Soros, publishes an annual list of organizations that received financial support from OSF. According to the publicly available database, OSF supported 39 Hungarian organizations in 2020. The activities of many of these organizations are in no way related to politics, including NGOs helping disabled people or  disadvantaged children. In fact, some of the organizations’ activities are not only supported by George Soros, but also by the Hungarian state.


Claim 3: Every Thursday, Orbán spends the day reading


The Hungarian PM's activities are regularly documented on his Facebook page. Based on his posts published in the past few months, we identified several Thursdays when Orbán clearly had other activities than reading.

  • Last year, on the 16th of December, he visited an animal shelter, delivering dog food as a Christmas gift to pets 
  • On the 25th of November, he gave a speech at a conference called Active Hungary, held in Siófok, a small town in the Transdanubian region.
  • On the 4th of November, he participated at the V4 + South Korea summit in Budapest.
  • On the 21st of October, he traveled to an European Union summit to Brussels.
  • On the 23rd of September, he welcomed Mike Pence, vice-president of the United States, with whom they took part in the 4th Demographic Congress, organized by the Hungarian government in Budapest.

Claim 4: Hungary began building the fence on the Serbian-Hungarian border in June 2015, and by September it was done.


In June 2015, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced that the government had started preparations to close the Hungarian-Serbian border. The construction of a 175-meter-long “trial section” of the fence started on the 13th of July, 2015 near the town of Mórahalom.

The first phase of the construction ended on the 29th of August, with the installment of a rapid deployable razor wire barrier. The second phase ended on the 17th of September, 2015 on the Serbian-Hungarian border (175 kilometers/109 miles), and on the 21st of October on the much longer Croatian-Hungarian border (348 kilometers/216 miles).

However, on the 26th of August 2016, Orbán announced that there is a need for installing a new row of wired fence on the Serbian-Hungarian border. This fence was only completed in April, 2017.


Claim 5: The number of illegal border crossings have dropped to almost zero after the completion of the fence


According to the graph presented in the video, the number of illegal crossings was 14,647 in January 2015, and 138,396 in September, this is what dropped to "almost zero" as the narrator claims. The source of the cited numbers is most probably a Wikipedia entry titled "Hungarian border barrier". It refers to earlier (already unavailable) police statistics. According to these statistics, there were 99,497 illegal border crossings detected in October, but only a few hundred detections in the following three months (November: 315, December: 270, January: 553). However, the number of illegal border crossings increased again: in February, 2016 the number rose to almost 2400, in March above 3000, in April to almost 4000.

However, the official data provided by Frontex, the EU's border control agency, is different from the numbers presented in Carlson’s documentary. According to Frontex, the number of illegal border crossings on the Western Balkan migration route still increased for a month after the completion of Hungary’s fence (from 141207 in September to 205703 in October). In November and December, the number decreased, but not to the extent suggested by the Wikipedia page and Carlson's documentary. In December, 2015 Frontex still reported around 100,000 illegal border crossings on the Western Balkan migration route: 

  • January, 2015: 12927
  • September, 2015: 141207
  • October, 2015: 205703
  • November, 2015: 163879
  • December, 2015: 97200

Claim 6: The European Union punished Hungary for building the border fence


“For daring to defend his own country, the European Union punished Viktor Orbán and Hungary,” says Carlson after having shown the construction of the border fence. In a subsequent scene showing a snippet from a CNN interview, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is asked about the EU's so-called Article 7 procedure against Hungary.  

With this, the documentary suggests what politicians from Hungary’s governing Fidesz party have repeatedly claimed: the proceeding launched by the EU against Hungary is nothing other than a revenge by the supporters of immigration.

The Article 7 procedure is, in fact, used when a member state’s actions threaten the bloc's values, including the rule of law, human rights and democratic principles. In the case of Hungary, there were allegations of serious breaches of these values not only regarding immigration related policies, but also in connection with the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and the rights of minorities.

The first steps of the Article 7 procedure had been taken long before the refugee crisis and the construction of the fence: in February 2012, the European Parliament expressed serious concerns and called for further measures to monitor the situation in Hungary.

At this time, the Hungarian government claimed that the EU launched proceedings due to Hungary’s policies to reduce utility prices. The procedure is still ongoing and could theoretically result in depriving the Hungarian government of its voting rights and freezing certain EU funds. However, this would require a unanimous vote of the member states, which is currently a very unlikely option due to the close Hungarian-Polish alliance.


Claim 7: The majority of migrants did not come from Syria



According to the documentary, “in the previous waves of migration, the majority of people have not been from Syria”, but NGOs and human smugglers told them “to claim that they are from Syria so that they can get refugee status.”


According to the Hungarian regulations of asylum procedure, the asylum-seeker is asked to provide details about the reasons for fleeing, the circumstances of reaching Hungary, and to present any evidence that may be available to support the application, including personal identification documents. Based on this, the Hungarian immigration authority will decide to grant refugee status or refuse the application. According to the statistics of Hungary’s National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing, in 2015, a total of 177 135 people applied for refugee status in Hungary, most of them (36,74%) were registered as Syrians. 

Out of 177 135 applicants, only 146 were granted refugee status. There are no official statistics published about the reasons for refusal, and whether in any case refusal was due to unsupported claims about the applicant’s nationality. It has been reported, however, that applicants were often refused due to the fact that Hungary regarded Serbia as a safe third country, thus asylum seekers entering from Serbia were rejected almost by default.  

Carlson’s video shows two men being sent back to Serbia without having the opportunity to apply for asylum. Such push-backs were ruled unlawful by the Court of Justice of the European Union in December 2020, as they violate - among other laws - the prohibition of collective expulsions stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights. However, Hungary has continued to carry out such push-backs even after the EU Court’s ruling.


Claim 8: Hungary’s birth rate increased 24% in the last 10 years, which is the highest increase in the EU


Katalin Novák, who was state secretary for families at the time, claimed that Hungary’s birth rate increased 24% over the last 10 years. However, according to the latest annual data of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, the birth rate in Hungary was 92,338 in 2020, compared to 90,335 in 2010, which represents an increase of only 2.2% in the last 10 years. 

While the birth rate, mentioned by Novák, shows the number of individuals born in a population in a given amount of time, Novák might have meant the total fertility rate (the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime) when citing the data. The total fertility rate stood at 1,25 in 2010, compared to 1,56 in 2020, which represents a 24,8% increase. 

According to data from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, between 2009 and 2019 Hungary had the highest increase in terms of total fertility rate among member states. 


Claim 9: There are far more government-critical newspapers than pro-government media outlets



In the documentary, PM Orbán recalls a story: last summer, he went to a newspaper stand and asked for all the newspapers that criticize him. He received a huge pile of newspapers - at least, this is what Orbán is showing with his hands. “Far more against us, than for us. So it is obvious (...) that the media is critical of the Hungarian government,” Orbán claimed.

The full video of Orbán’s visit to the newspaper stand, published on his Facebook page shows that he only received 6 newspapers that are critical of him - which would be a much smaller pile than the size suggested by Orbán’s gestures on Carlson’s video.



According to the Center for Media, Data and Society of the Central European University and investigative website Átlátszó, among all news media outlets in Hungary, 54 were pro-government and 36 were independent in 2020. 

Claim 10: The so-called Stop-Soros law convinced the Open Society Foundation and the Central European University to leave Hungary


“Faced with an increasingly repressive political and legal environment in Hungary, the Open Society Foundations are moving their Budapest-based international operations and staff to the German capital, Berlin,” the OSF said in a press release in 2018. According to the organization, the so-called Stop Soros law - which criminalized a range of migration-related activities - was only the latest in a series of attempts to repress civil society for the sake of political gain.

While Carlson talks about OSF’s decision to leave Budapest, the documentary shows an image of the Central European University (CEU), founded by Georg Soros, which also decided to leave the country - however, at a later date and due to another law. CEU moved its US-accredited program to Vienna in September 2019 due to the 2017 amendments to the Hungarian Higher Education Act known as the lex CEU.

We sent questions to Tucker Carlson, Viktor Orbán and Katalin Novák about the factually incorrect statements featured in the documentary. If they respond, we will update the article.


About us:

Lakmusz.hu is the first dedicated fact-checking website in Hungary. It is part of the Hungarian Digital Media Observatory, an anti-disinformation initiative co-funded by the European Commission.

The Hungarian Digital Media Observatory is a project of the

  • French AFP news agency,
  • Magyar Jeti Zrt, the Hungarian publisher of 444.hu and Qubit.hu,
  • media researchers of the Media Universalis Foundation
  • and the IT professionals of ePressPack

Should you have any questions about the project, please contact

  • Blanka Zöldi - editor in chief - zoldib@lakmusz.hu
  • or Peter Erdelyi - director - erdelyip@lakmusz.hu

Photo: Tucker Carlson meets with Viktor Orbán on the 2nd of Augustt, 2021. Source: Viktor Orbán Facebook


Nóra Diószegi-Horváth, Eszter Neuberger, Blanka Zöldi