On Sunday, we marked the Working Journalists' Day... The opposition press once again criticized the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and declared that the day will not be "celebrated" in view of the "intolerable levels of pressure being placed on journalists in Turkey."
Yes, we agree that there is little to rejoice about as journalists in Turkey but that is because people have allowed themselves to become the mouthpiece in a blind campaign to oust Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party at all costs. The criticisms have not been the kind we observe in the West, where the media opposes the government in power in a country. This has become a war of attrition especially against Erdoğan and his family; thus, every means is being deployed in a slander-and-insult campaign unmatched anywhere else in the free world.
Erdoğan's adversaries use every opportunity to lambast every individual or establishment close to him - irrespective of what is right and what is wrong. They actually target every person, establishment and institution that has any connection with the government using false stories, misinformation and blatant lies to further their cause and, unfortunately, our colleagues in the media are being used as weapons in this war. Our colleagues have to face the fact that they are being exploited by certain businessmen and other power groups to hurt the government and especially the president.
So, Erdoğan and his colleagues try to build up their own defenses and strike back in return; thus creating a meaningless and very damaging war that is hurting Turkey. Hence, Erdoğan and the government refuse to include the opposition media in their list of accreditations.
Journalists in Turkey have to realize that people with ulterior motives are using them in a very crooked manner.
Consider an incident from the past few days and see how journalists are being fooled, misled and manipulated. The first is the TV show hosted by talk show star Beyazit Öztürk, who was duped into becoming a tool for PKK propaganda during a live show on Channel D TV - owned by business tycoon Aydın Doğan - whose opposition to the government and Erdoğan is clear. A person posing as a teacher identified as Ayşe Çelik contacted the show's live broadcast via telephone, which is typical and usually has nothing to do with politics, and treated Öztürk to a barrage of propaganda that strongly criticized the government's anti-terrorism campaign in the southeastern provinces and blatantly promoted PKK propaganda. Öztürk, who is not used to political talk, simply agreed with everything Çelik said and had the studio audience applaud her. When hit by a massive barrage of protests, Öztürk apologized publicly and said he was lost in the political talk and that his mind was simply blocked; therefore, he did not know what he was doing. His explanation was not so convincing since a man like Beyazır Öztürk is a talk show host that is prepared for spontaneity. He could have replied to the person on the phone and cut her short but instead, he proved what he's worth. Now it has become clear that the person who talked on the phone was not a teacher and the incident was a well-organized promotion campaign by the PKK. The Doğan group has been manipulated.
What is sad about all this is that opposition media jumped on the opportunity and lambasted the government and its anti-terrorism policies using the words of a "poor and suffering" teacher as a pretext. Are the journalists who were used in this propaganda campaign proud of themselves?
Another incident was a fatwa on incest. Social media outlets raised hell over the fact that the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) issued a fatwa that legitimized incest. The opposition media picked up the story and lambasted the DİB. Several journalists were fooled once again and several opposition columnists strongly criticized and insulted the DİB. At the end of the day, it became apparent that the so-called fatwa was a 13-year-old story that was rehashed and circulated in social media. It is the duty of journalists to look at the facts and the truth - yet, no one bothers to do this and the DİB became a victim of the opposition's wrath. Are the journalists who were used in this propaganda campaign proud of themselves?
Unfortunately, this is the state of the media in Turkey. We have to do some deep contemplation and think hard before we put our house in order or else the days that mark special occasions for journalists and the press will not be that special in the future.