The notorious level of the media’s freedom in Turkey has proven their inability to report accurately many times in the last couple of years. On the national level it is a daily habit by now to witness the performance of the pool-media where, on certain days, all newspapers come out with the same headlines and main articles, and compare these pieces of “news” to the parody paper Zaytung. However, when it comes to international fiascos, one has to wait a few months for another example of scandalous reporting.
Colorless milk ports flap furiously
Only a couple of months after the Gezi Park Protests, the daily Yeni Şafak had won the gold medal in the propaganda Olympics by trying a long-shot attempt at proving Noam Chomsky’s “manufacturing consent” theory through an interview with Chomsky himself, yet failed to publish the answers to non-existent questions correctly. When it was discovered that some of the answers printed on paper did not actually belong to the internationally renowned philosopher, the editors published a Web page showing all the claimed-original answers, which included some really bad Google-translated sentences, one of which also included the word “milk port.” Later on this fiasco was referred to as “a general plot against national stability and security” by the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
At the beginning of October, a video was shown of US Vice-President Biden at Harvard University talking about the Middle East and how some allies, including Turkey, have helped radical entities, and especially ISIL, in the region and explaining that this had expanded the scope of instability in the region. Upon these words, Turkish President Erdogan had said that the American Vice-President would be “history for me if he has indeed used such expressions.”
Towards midnight on the day this demand came from the Turkish President, all pro-government media started emergency broadcasts of the news, with news flashes of the apology that came from the US Vice-President. According to the reports, Joe Biden had called Erdogan and apologized for his “claims.” CNN Turk had broadcast the news, referring to White House spokesperson Josh Earnest and reporting that Joe Biden had apologized for misinterpreting a conversation with President Erdogan.
There were long articles as to why an American Vice-President would apologize to the Turkish President and how it took place. Many “experts” on all TV stations interpreted the situation as Turkey’s emerging as a giant power, and proving to the whole world what a marvelous neo-Ottoman state Turkey has become. The next day, it was possible to hear citizens on the streets talking about the strength of their state and their pride in making one of the strongest peoples on earth apologize to their “fatherland.”
Yet, the milky dream lasted about a month before Biden was on the screens of CNN, this time stating that he never apologized. He said “There’s nothing I’ve said that I haven’t said that was truthful. And so sometimes – you know, everybody says they’re looking for authenticity. What I have done is where – if there’s been a general – genuine misunderstanding – let’s take the comment, you know – I’m told I – I apologized to (Turkish) President Erdogan. I never apologized to him. I know him well. I’ve dealt with him. I called him and said, ‘Look, what was reported was not accurate to what I said. Here’s what I said.’”
In the atmosphere of lack of media pluralism, I presume that not many reporters bothered to run a background check on the claims or demand a further comment from Vice-President Biden regarding the apology. On the other hand, in a country where the media are under a lot of pressure, it would be hard to ask for verification of the news when the claim is coming from the One Man of the country. Yet, it is enough to make the whole country the world’s laughing-stock once again, alongside all the other fiascos in every corner.