Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The dishonesty of Turkish Hurriyet English

I follow the Turkish political and social scene with interest. This may be due to the ruling Ak Party headed by the hotheaded but extremely popular Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and may be due to my interest in pre- and post Ottoman Turkey and especially their architecture.

Anyway, there are only two English dailies in Turkey. One is the Hurriyet Daily News and the other, Todays Zaman. The later is owned by the Gulen Movement. The two are quite antagonistic in many ways. Todays Zaman is pro-AKP while the Hurriyet Daily News is viciously anti-AKP. It is quite easy to understand why!

Todays Zaman is owned by the conservative but very tolerant Gulen Movement and it is in their interest to support a government that doesn’t persecute them as was the case before AKP was elected in 2002. Hurriyet’s case is quite different. They were supportive of the Erdogan government for a while-not wholly, but somehow- when business deals were coming their way. It is owned by Turkey’s Robert Murdoch: Aydın Doğan who dominated the Turkish media scene like a colossus in the past.

Erdogan and Dogan have had a public spat and once their relations broke down, Dogan turned to his media empire for help. On the Turkish front: support the opposition and in particular the rigidly secular CHP. On the international front, use Hurriyet English to dish out extremely twisted information about Erdogan and his government. If you log on to the website and you are familiar with the region, you will think you are reading an Isreali conservative propaganda machine dishing out Hasbara.

I’m saying this because Haaretz, an influential Israeli newspaper is more nuanced and intellectual (despite it being a Jewish newspaper) than the Turkish Hurriyet English. But you can understand. No business deals, no good coverage. Only that in many instances, they are harming the strategic interests of their nation in their blind hatred for Erdogan.

But there is something else I want to talk about: selective editing, coverage and analysis and even comment moderation. Of course the target of their news is the Israeli and US establishment. Frighten them about Erdogan and his AKP government with supposedly Erdogan’s anti-Israel (or even US) stance and his rapprochement with radical groups in the Middle East.

Then the two are required to either help the opposition to come to power or even push the military to topple Erdogan, something that would have been possible a few years ago, but seems difficult today.

And it is not secret that Israelis (and Hurriyet) wish for Erdogan’s fall. The Israelis even want the military to topple Erdogan. And now Hurriyet says Israeli hawks wish for Erdogan’s government ouster. One of the hawks even responds immediately through a comment and it is published. It shows how much they are in league with Hurriyet English. their intense interest even in comments points to something one can imagine.

Though Hurriyet English has many columnists, most of them are quite pathetic and can be ignored. One of them is Yusuf Kanli, the old man is quite always angry though he likes to call Erdogan the angry man. You can’t find an intellectual input from him. However, it has two sparring colleagues. The conservo-liberal (does it exist?) Mustafa Akyol plus the ideologue of nothing except “down with AKPBurak Bedkil.

I say the ideologue of nothing because the man has one topic to talk about: AKP and how bad, illiberal, religious, anti-Semitic, Hamas linked ect it is. Any other thing on earth doesn't matter. I have been following him since 2007 and I must say the only other subject he has written about (and only few times after PKK attacks come Turkish military outposts) is how Kurdish are terrorists and that even if they are given more rights, how that won’t work because they want an independent homeland.

Ironically, Burak who is blindly is pro-Isreal fails to convince his Israeli comrades about the transgressions of PKK. They believe PKK is fighting for their people's rights but not Hamas. Failed mission indeed.

Someone told me he is an atheist, I don’t know about that, neither do I care about it but his articles aren’t stimulating except for the “volunteer squad” at Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry which are supposed to post nodding comments to every pro-Israel article anywhere and run down the opposite.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a squad to do the same. Will Burak feel disturbed by this nation that survives through propaganda since he likes to call Erdogan and AKP supporters a bunch of fools influenced by propaganda?

Israel bloggers and the volunteers recruited by the Foreign Ministry and also Diaspora Ministry focus on Turkey and actively post comments below news, articles and discussions on Israel especially Hurriyet. And Hurriyet aids them. For examples, though both Mustafa and Burak’s latest articles were posted online at the same time (both touching on Israel, the Gaza aid flotilla etc), as usual, the daily regulated the comments and released one negative comment from an Isreali to Mustafa’s article. On the other hand, it released seven positive comments from Isrealis to Burak’s one and one mildly negative.

Now you may ask, how do I know the commentators were Israelis or supporters of Israel and that the comments were regulated. It is easy to know that. I have already given you links where the Israeli Foreign and Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministries have recruited talkbackers to focus on “problematic” countries. And Turkey, Israeli’s number one ally in the region is “problematic” for Israel today due to Israel’s continued humiliation of the Palestinians and Turkey's protestation against that. Furthermore the ones who either comment or make them are either known, or betray themselves to be known.

Secondly, it is easy to know how many comments have been posted even if they weren’t published. Releasing a negative comment while holding the positive ones to be published later is something we know about. It is intended to influence the latter commentators. See the negative (the opposite) one and take cue. Follow that line or…you will be run down later. It achieves some results.

It is intended to discourage the writer, because the more he sees negative and hostile comments about his articles, the more he will be forced (supposedly) to either tone down or change the subject altogether. The other is to brainwash the later commentators because they will have to take cue from the first one(s). It works. I have singled out this issue because it has become a norm at Hurriyet and shame on you for belittling the intelligence of your readers.

I have no problem with someone supporting Israel (or repeatedly running down Turkey and the Turkish people as Burak does to convince I don't know whom) but I have a problem with someone doing at the expense of his/her nation and this is what Hurriyet English is doing in its desperate attempt to besmirch Erdogan and his government.

At the end of the day, it is the Turkish voters who will determine who will sit in T.C. Basbakanligi and not what hasbaraniks whether Turkish or Israelis write in Hurriyet English.

*Update*: Pm Erdogan lashes out at ‘black propaganda' sources


  1. This ridiculous! you don't know nothing about Turkey.I am commenting your blog now Am I Israel?

  2. You hit the nail right on the head on this one, I too (none turkish) have been following Hurriyet Daily News for 6-7 years and their anti AKP stand has gone beyond ridicules. After reading just a few articles it becomes clear as daylight that according to them AKP = Bad, Islamist, Fake, Undemocratic etc. while Kamalist Secular Parties = Good, Democratic, Peace Loving etc., too bad that's it's exactly the other way round! I'm atheist and have no love for religious parties but I hate hypocrisy more than anything in this world. AKP compared to previous kamalist secular parties that have ruled Turkey with a fascist bloody fist (that would make the likes of Mussolini and Franco proud) are pure angels. AKP took Turkey out of the dark ages political wise, there has NEVER been more democracy, civil rights and openness in the history of Turkey than under AKP. If anything the opposition secular nationalist parties have fought AKP all they way for trying to open up turkey for more democracy and grant more rights, in EVERY aspect! The worst part is that they shamelessly call AKP undemocratic! Also Turkey economically went from a third world country bogged down with inflation and corruption to a economic power house in the whole region. AKP is in no way perfect but what they have achieved in the short time they have ruled is extremely impressive to say the least.

    You're are also very right about the commentators and the 'response they get' You have the old fart (kamalist)Yusuf Kanli which .....well..... only knows how to let out hot air. Then you have the very uncreative (probably sponsored) pro Israeli 'democrat' Burak Bedkil who sounds like a broken record with he's Israel = good , AKP and Kurds = bad. Then you have the open minded liberal progressive Mustafa Akol which is the only one that makes sense, he want more freedom and civil rights for all turks(some how that's very wrong and a threat according to the other commentators), speaks loud and clear against unjust and hypocrisy whenever he sees it. It's unbelievable that he's the one 'getting' most of the negative comments! There is no doubt that Hurriyat is running the show in such a way to make him look like that turks don't support the likes of him, well too bad because they should be proud of honorable people like him that are not scared to speak the uncomfortable truth, Turkey and the world needs more people like him!

  3. Kemalism was born in the ashes of the caliphate in 1923. so this should give u a understanding of their incredibly adverse reaction to any religious rights a individual has. it is a fully autocratic doctrine that has fascism, socialism and dictatorial foundations all rolled into one and because of its incredible loathing and disgust for anything religious they decided to call it secularism. the problem lye's in, after ataturk died the old privileged guard decided to make several undemocratic adjustments to their version of privileged secularism. in 1960 they staged a coup against the democratically elected government and all of the military leaders who believed in democracy were sacked or imprisoned. i have read 2500 generals were sacked. in doing so the new generals sold out Ataturks dream and created a system where we have today a ruling elite that rules turkey from behind the curtain (through the military and many other organizations like the judiciary). this ruling elite is a organization called Ergenokon who on many occasions committed acts of terrorism against its population and several coups just to remove any emerging democratic parties. i personally believe that Aydin Dogan is part of Ergenekon and pathetic writers like burak bekdil (i call him a writer not a journalist, as he prefers propaganda over the truth) hate anything democratic or religious. He is one of those people who because they know better they must take away your right (at all costs) to choose. i remember reading an article by him where he wished the military would stage a coup to remove Erdogan. despite Erdogan being twice elected democratically and with a massive majority...on both occasions
    Israel and some what America can complain because in our actions it is exposing the double standards and lies of Israel. there isnt much that they can do. Turkey has awoken and it is powering towards becoming the first Islamic democracy with the focus on democracy. it will work and once it does the Muslim world will have a great example. this will inevitably change many things in this world. what is needed now is the people of the Islamic world to support the efforts of AKP to bring true democracy to Turkey and then once the example has been set. others can follow
    i recommend reading "the next 100 years" by George Friedman. it will explain where Turkey will be soon
    A very proud turk

  4. Good on you Turks,lead the way!

  5. 1 million % agree with this article, ....(voice from far east)

  6. Well done! Absolutely agree with you!

  7. So what?

    Nearly all the negative things you mention regarding Hurriyet is same with Zaman. Especially selective editing and comment moderation. Hurriyet is the turkish bigest while Zaman is the bigest of the islamist press in turkey. Read the two journals together and get the comphrensive grand picture of what the turks really think..


  8. Dear Kenyan Nomad,
    The article is excellent. Some of the commentators can't accept a foreigner taking interest in Turkish politics, and those Turkish ones are way too biased for us to pay attention to them.
    Dogan Media is trully a parasite of Turkey and luckily its days are numbered. As for Zaman, it is true that they can be biased as well (especially if it has anything to do with Fethullah Gulen or his movement), but it is far more intellectual and informative.
    AKP Government of Turkey has done wonders in the past decade and it will be remebered in the history, without a shadow of doubt, as the greatest, best and most effective government Turkish Republic has ever seen.
    Good job, over all, you blog is excellent.

  9. I totally agree with you. Hurriyet constantly refers to the Hamas election victory in Gaza as a "violent coup". I phoned them about this and complained about their practice of revising history - and that is was an election victory. And that Soner Captagy is a revolting character - I can't even finish one of his commentaries without feeling ill, he is always twisting the facts. I often buy both papers and compare them - Zaman is head and shoulders above - and their sales reflect it too.

  10. I totally agree with you. Hurriyet constantly refers to the Hamas election victory in Gaza as a "violent coup". I phoned them about this and complained about their practice of revising history - and that it was an election victory. And that Soner Captagy is a revolting character - I can't even finish one of his commentaries without feeling ill, he is always twisting the facts. I often buy both papers and compare them - Zaman is head and shoulders above - and their sales reflect it too.