U.S. media articles over the past week have highlighted a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on the jailing of journalists worldwide.
Among their findings is the fact that NATO “ally” Turkey, governed by autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan, remains the world’s largest jailer of journalists.
– 251 jailed journalists worldwide
– 98% locals
– 70% facing anti-state charges
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) December 13, 2018
Some critics have complained that CPJ actually low-balls the number of jailed journalists.
For instance, instead of the 68 reporters jailed in Turkey claimed by CPJ, the Stockholm Center for Freedom records 242 journalists and media workers who have been convicted or are awaiting trial in Erdogan’s jails:
As I noted here at PJ Media back in September, one regular feature of the U.S. media’s coverage is that many major news outlets that editorialize on Erdogan’s abuses do so as they open their editorial pages to him.
Take, for example, the New York Times’ editorial board complaining about Erdogan’s ever-increasing authoritarianism that came out in August at the same time as they opened their opinion page to him:
From the Editorial Board: Is Turkey still an American ally? Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule and the regional unrest caused by the Syrian conflict have tested this bond. https://t.co/KyBfY74kkM
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 11, 2018
It’s worth noting that it wasn’t long ago that the Gray Lady was promoting Erdogan’s regime as a model democracy:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) January 6, 2017
The American media were tripping over themselves to push every laughable leak from Erdogan’s regime — nearly all of which were later debunked — following the killing of (sometime) Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The Post, somewhat to their credit, allowed criticism of Erdogan’s feigned concern for freedom of the press.
Opinion: When it comes to defending the press, President Erdogan is the world’s biggest hypocrite https://t.co/m4Gt46i6Mi
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 13, 2018
They also have called out his rampant abuses:
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 12, 2018
But just like the New York Times, the Washington Post also opens their opinion pages to Turkey’s dictator:
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan writes in op-ed: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing https://t.co/dWZodkXoGu
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 2, 2018
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal runs Erdogan’s op-eds without qualification:
— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) September 11, 2018
Erdogan’s abuse of journalists isn’t limited to Turkey. It was reported this past January that social media death threats targeting Belgian journalists had come from IP addresses assigned to the Turkish embassy in Brussels.
Other threats against journalists outside of Turkey barely get any mention:
Erdoğan is “very sensitive” about #Khashoggi murder but said nothing over this insane call by his hitmen about exiled Turkish journalists. Watch it and see hypocrisy of Turkish Islamists… @washingtonpost @RSF_EECA @CPJ_Eurasia @globalfreemedia pic.twitter.com/Qdzj3ti8DV
— Celil (@csagir2015) November 3, 2018
Another issue is that U.S. media outlets give cursory coverage to major scandals involving our NATO “ally.”
Unless you are a regular consumer of international media, you would be hard-pressed to learn from the U.S. media that Erdogan’s regime was actively arming jihadist groups in Syria as ISIS was on the rise.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) December 20, 2018
And there may have been a half-day news cycle noting that Erdogan was implicated in gold transfers specifically to bust U.S. sanctions on Iran, but it wasn’t much more than that.
Two years ago, Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute wrote about “12 Questions Turkey’s Journalists Can’t Ask.” But these are the same questions that the U.S. media won’t ask, either.
The media in America have the freedom to ask these questions but choose not to.
This Turkish journalist has been in prison for three years for criticizing Pres Erdogan's authoritarianism and corruption. When judges tried to free him, they were jailed, too. https://t.co/F2kEA02USP pic.twitter.com/KSSYxMxGRq
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) December 20, 2018
#Istanbul Police Dept. Financial Crimes Unit chief Yakup Saygılı who investigated and uncovered this major graft scheme involving #Iran's operative Zarrab's dealing with Turkish gov't officials has been in jail for 1⃣5⃣9⃣8⃣ days now. He did his job and punished for it. pic.twitter.com/uf6QEBO4EH
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) December 19, 2018
Earlier this week there were many in the U.S. media in attendance at the Doha Forum where Erdogan’s foreign minister made this outrageous claim just days after the CPJ report was published:
“To ensure freedom of expression, Turkey has been reshaping its policies to provide a safe environment for the Journalists.” – H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey. #DohaForum @MevlutCavusoglu pic.twitter.com/SmGvRNMyMS
— Doha Forum (@DohaForum) December 16, 2018
But who among the American media attendees of the event called him out? <crickets>
This has been part of a deliberate international campaign by the Erdogan regime to rewrite the history of his ongoing crackdown, specifically his jailing of journalists:
First @Gulnuray tries to obfuscate the figures, then uses weasel words to try to sidestep the truth. Yes, that not many journalists in #Turkey have been "convicted" but that's because they have spent months in jail on pre-trial detention. #FreeTurkeyMedia pic.twitter.com/DlLqW70wX1
— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) December 19, 2018
The U.S. media, which regularly gives airtime and space on their opinion pages to Erdogan and his henchmen, appears to be willing to go along with the charade.
And when these same media outlets report on journalists imprisoned around the world, it bears reminding that, given our constitutional press freedoms, they are the biggest hypocrites of all.