Friendly suggestions to New York Times editors

Published 18.11.2014 02:07

Recently, Bloomberg released a report alleging that five truckloads of energy drinks cross Turkey to Syria every day to energize Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. The source of this "news report" was not a specific document, but an anonymous source "that does not want to give its name." Journalism has become really easy lately. For instance, you could comfortably report such news from where you sit. "According to a U.S. source that does not want to give its name, the Obama government regularly drops five containers of pepita and popcorn to ISIS militants from air so that they would not get bored at the intervals of clashes."

The operation of manipulating perceptions of ISIS against Turkey has gone completely off the rails. Talking such nonsense must stem from extreme self-confidence or the failure of this method. The New York Times has also displayed an appreciated performance on that matter. Formerly, their reporter Ceylan Yeğinsu wrote a "news report" on Sept. 15, 2014, claiming that ISIS draws recruits from the Hacı Bayram Veli Mosque located in Ankara. And attached to the report was a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu leaving the mosque after prayer. The manipulation attempt to show Erdoğan and Davutoğlu as pro-ISIS figures was clearly seen in this instance. The same New York Times reporter also reported another piece of "news" that is worth even more appreciation.

Lately, a group of young people from Turkey's All Youth Union (TGB) attacked three off-duty U.S. Navy sailors by throwing red dye on them and placing sacks over their heads, which is hostile and unacceptable. Upon that, 12 people were detained. They were freed as a requirement of laws for now but they will give account in court. I strongly condemn this heinous attack. This is an explicit form of violence. In the news mentioned above, this provocative and dubious act organized by the TGB, which is a fanatic Kemalist, anti-Erdoğan and pro-Assad group and one of the leading figures in the Gezi Park protests, was attributed to the government. The news alleged that this incident was a result of the tension between the two countries after Turkey did not provide soldiers for the international anti-ISIS coalition.

"The assault and the publicity it received online came against the backdrop of continuing tensions between the United States and Turkey, worsened by Turkish reluctance to fully embrace the American-led military strikes against the extremist group Islamic State [of Iraq and al-Sham] in neighboring Iraq and Syria," the report says. Let me get this clear. The TGB is a radical Kemalist group rather than being simply nationalist. These young people are the followers of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, "the founder of modern Turkey," which is favored by the West. They support Assad and constitute one of the leading anti-government formations of the Gezi Park protests.

The reference made to the 2003 sack event in the announcement made during the attack was also provocative. Besides, as a reporter, she should have questioned how the soldiers were identified in civilian clothing by such an amateur youth group. And we would like to make up for this deficiency. This protest seems like a non-organic provocation that is deliberately aimed at creating tension between Turkey and the U.S. But is it possible for a reporter in Turkey to not know these facts? Quoting a prejudiced "expert" who says such acts would continue if the government does not condemn it, employs a manipulation that cannot be explained within the limits of journalism. The quote is as follows:

But wait a second. We cannot find this quote on the website of The New York Times at the moment. However, we remember reading it in the first version of the report. After a little research, we find that The Boston Globe published the quote.

" 'It will be interesting to see what the Turkish government's reaction is to this incident and whether they condemn it,' " said Elmira Bayrasli, a Turkey expert and cofounder of Foreign Policy Interrupted. " 'If they skirt around the issue, I fear that more attacks like this will be repeated.'"

Evidently, the reporter or editors omitted this "expert" opinion from the news. Maybe it is due to the fact that they encountered an exaggerated prejudice when they looked at the reviews of Turkey on Bayrasli's website and the analysis remarking of "whether Turkey condemn [this act]" was refuted in only two hours. The quote implies that the government causes such incidents and its taking no stance against it is influential in the emergence of other similar incidents. But this is not true. Turkey has condemned this act as strongly as possible. Giving up the principles of journalism should not require being inattentive. Or, The New York Times should release an apology for the prejudices this report had, just as they did after their Hacı Bayram Veli report. The piece in The Boston Globe should also be discontinued. The choice only depends on principles.

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