Far-Right Times

The Emergence of Brussels Signal

In the British mind, Brussels is only about the European Union.

New European normal. Nizza Millefonti, Torino.

The fact that it is the capital city of a country with its own relationship with the EU is precisely the sort of detail the UK press neglects.

Even Euroscepticism has a place in the city’s politics. It’s nothing new, yet a disproportionate number of Brits act like we invented the concept.

After all, it’s easier when it’s just us versus them. Never mind the details.

That’s why the city’s newest media will likely take some getting used to in the UK.

An English-language news platform with a rightwing mandate, Michael Mosbacher founded Brussels Signal with the backing of American political strategist Patrick Egan.

The plan was announced almost a year ago with a list of big names from conservative UK titles.

“Our objective is to critically examine the news of the day and present a distinctive alternative viewpoint, offering a captivating source of content that engages and enlightens our audience,” Mosbacher said at the time.

Egan and Mosbacher claim to have identified a “gaping hole” in European Union news coverage.

Most EU news outfits are part of a pro-European liberal centre long before the 2016 Brexit vote. Brussels Signal aims to change this.

A savvy media entrepreneur, Mosbacher previously helped found right-wing magazines such as Standpoint and The Critic. He served as editor of both projects before moving on to his next big idea.

At the Brussels Signal launch in October, conservative feminist Louise Perry gave a speech on ‘woke ideology’ in which she characterised it as a “second Reformation” and a “war on Christianity itself”.

Perry spoke alongside anti-woke podcaster Konstantin Kissin. The duet represent the cultural parameters for the news start-up: against what used to be called political correctness, in favour of conservative ideas and values.

So far, Brussels Signal has set clear areas of focus for its news agenda: EU migration policy, the Ukraine war, freedom of speech, and the Green New Deal.

The European Commission is criticised on all fronts, while its challengers are cheered on.

The Neocon-Populist Pipeline

Remedia Corp, the publisher behind Brussels Signal, was founded by Patrick Egan in November 2022. He set up Remedia Europe with €275,000 in funding from an undisclosed source, according to Politico.

It’s not his first media project. Another was Remix News, which was set up to provide coverage of Central and Eastern Europe with messaging sympathetic to Viktor Orbán. This includes articles bashing liberal billionaire George Soros.

Hungarian investigative media group Atlatszo has claimed Remix News is partly financed by the Orbán government. Egan has ties to the Fidesz Party going back more than a decade, according to Atlatszo.

Such connections have prompted speculation that Brussels Signal may have similar ties. Mosbacher has strongly denied he is working for the Hungarian government or pushing Orbán’s agenda.

Once upon a time, Egan was the director of Freedom House for Central and Eastern Europe. He was first based in Montenegro as an analyst for the NGO and later moved between Budapest and Belgrade.

No stranger to US power, Egan previously worked for NATO in Brussels and for USAID in Budapest in the mid-1990s. He took a break from his work in Central Europe in 2004.

Patrick Egan found a new opportunity in the US occupation of Iraq. He moved to Baghdad to serve as a director of the International Republican Institute, which was running a programme to develop new political parties in Iraq.

This was during the run-up to the 2005 elections in Iraq, held under de facto US military rule in the midst of an insurgency. The Bush Administration was busy stabilising the country and ensuring US allies won the election.

While Iraq was still in flames, Egan returned to Europe in September 2005. The International Republican Institute had a new directorship for him in Slovakia. Now, he was the director of the institute’s regional programme in Bratislava.

After this, Egan founded the FWD Affairs consultancy in Budapest in 2010. FDW has served political parties such as the Christian Democratic Union in Germany and the Union for a Popular Movement in France.

The obvious next step for this political strategist was to move into new media. This seems like an odd choice, but Egan’s journey from mainstream Republican to populist patron is less unusual than many liberals might want to believe.

New Wave Nationalism

The launch of Brussels Signal represents a wider shift in right-wing politics. Many mainstream conservatives across the EU are engaging with nationalist ideas out of concern with declining birth rates and stagnant economic growth.

The enemies are partly old and partly new: wokeness, immigration, multiculturalism, gender ideology. Stronger borders combined with a revival of national pride and conservative values is the answer for many rightists today.

Brussels Signal has recruited commentators from across Europe. This includes Greek nationalist politician Konstantinos Bogdanos and Polish conservative Krzyzstof Mularczyk, who used to work for TVP World.

But a much bigger catch is from Canada: former media kingpin Conrad Black. Once a rival to Rupert Murdoch, Lord Black’s company Hollinger International went bankrupt amid a financial scandal in which he was convicted for fraud.

President Donald Trump pardoned his old friend Black before he was shunted from office by over 70 million voters. Naturally, Black is a defender of the Trump years and hopes for a Republican victory come November.

There are no doubt plenty of shocks ahead for Brussels Signal to cover.

The far-right Vlaams Belang is predicted to do well in Belgium’s June elections, while Germany may soon elect the first government to include Alternative für Deutschland.

Poland may have turned away from conservative nationalism, but Geert Wilders now has his friends in power in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Italy already has Giorgia Meloni, and France may one day elect Marine Le Pen to the presidency.

But there is a potential problem here for Brussels Signal.

A lot of cultural conservatives look to President Vladimir Putin and see the kind of strong, macho leader they want to run their own countries.

It’s no accident Putin has a sizeable right-wing fandom across the West.

By contrast, Mosbacher is a self-avowed hawk on the side of Israel and Ukraine. This may put him at odds with some of the audience he is courting.

After all, many people on the European right do not see the national integrity of Ukraine as a cause worth blood and treasure.

The right used to be all for fighting endless wars in the name of Western civilisation, but those days are over for now.

It’s still early days for Brussels Signal. Whether it succeeds or fails, the populist European right will continue to make its demands heard across the continent.

The old order is dying, and a new Europe is emerging in its place.

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Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit. All rights reserved.