Ian Berger interview: ‘The Daily Show: Hungary for Democracy’ director
“Well, Jordan and I will look at a map and then try to figure out where the show will pay for us to go that we really want to go,” says Ian Berger. He’s a supervising producer and segment director for “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and the co-executive producer, co-writer, and director of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers The Globe – Hungary for Democracy.” It’s not hard to see why they picked Hungary as their destination; it has become American conservatives’ model for how to roll back democracy here at home. Watch out exclusive video interview above.
“I started finding articles about this connection between the American conservative party and their interest in Hungary,” Berger explains. At first he didn’t think much of it, but “then I found out this young Republicans group endorsed [Hungarian president] Viktor Orban, which sounded weird. And then Donald Trump endorsed him for a second time.” Orban has so thoroughly captured the media, the government, and the courts in Hungary that elections are hardly free and fair, making Orban an unchallenged authoritarian ruler. The US conservative group CPAC is so enthused by his undermining of democratic governance that they even held their annual event in Budapest in 2022.
The production team was “incredibly careful” when it came to the possibility of the Orban regime spying on or “following members of the foreign press,” though ironically the crowds of Orban supporters weren’t as aggressively hostile to the media as American Trump supporters tend to be, and the Budapest itself tends to be a lot more picturesque than the sites of a lot of Trump rallies: “The city is just so stunning that you almost can’t do wrong. Like, thank you to the Hapsburgs for making such a production-friendly city.”
As for the political implications, “it was disappointing how the election in Hungary turned out [with Orban beating the opposition party by a wide margin] and what we’re witnessing.” But when it comes to America, “I would say it gives me motivation. That’s our takeaway. I think hopefully it gives the audience motivation to say, it could happen and it is happening, but it doesn’t have to happen.”