Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
As of Friday March 4th, democracy ended in Turkey, but you’d hardly have known it by reading the international ‘news’ at the major (and at most of the minor) U.S.-based ‘news’ sites, as of around 4PM Eastern time in the U.S., nearly a day after the event. Nor has it been announced even now, ten days after that historic event occurred.
Here was the ‘news’ coverage the next day, March 5th, 24 hours after the event:
The New York Times World News section online buried nearly a third of the way down the main page, “Turkey Seizes Newspaper, Zaman, as Press Crackdown Continues,” immediately below “Gunmen Kill 16 at Nursing Home in Yemen.” The news report didn’t even mention that the government-seizure of Turkey’s largest newspaper and its associated equivalent of America’s AP news-service constitutes the signal event in Turkish President Erdogan’s ending of his country’s democracy. It’s like: when did the NYT ever report that George W. Bush had lied about the evidence he had regarding “Saddam’s WMD”? Never.
Nonetheless, that page’s box which was headlined “Most Emailed” showed: “1. Turkey Seizes Newspaper Zaman, as Press Crackdown Continues.” No matter how much the Times’s management wanted to downplay the event and its significance, readers still were emailing it more than any other story in the entire section. Apparently, reader-interest is one thing, but what the management want the readers to be informed about is something quite different (and that’s not even talking about accuracy, but deception is rampant in America’s mainstream and almost all of its non-mainstream ‘news’ reporting). Perhaps the corporation makes up for it in advertising-income from their major advertisers, who don’t want the public to have their eyes focused on certain things (such as that NATO, and Turkey’s being in NATO, aren’t about ‘American values’ nor ‘U.S. national security’, but about ultimately conquering Russia). And people still subscribe to it? Yes, they do; they pay their good money for that bad ‘journalism’; after all, that’s ‘journalism’ which wins lots of U.S. national awards (not that that’s any authentic indication of the newspaper’s quality — it’s not).
By contrast: Britain’s Independent came closer to the mark of reality, placing the story front and large on its homepage as the top news-story of all, which it actually is: “Seizure of Newspaper Could Cost Turkey Its Place in Europe, Warns EU Official.” (But, maybe not its place in the American-run NATO — after all, the U.S. aristocracy needs Turkey for things like shooting down Russian bombers that are killing jihadists who want to replace Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad’s secular, non-sectarian, government, which the U.S. has long been trying to overthrow.)
The Huffington Post’s homepage had as its lead headline, “155 Delegates at Stake,” and 20% down the page headlined “Turkish Police Fire Tear Gas At Newspaper As EU Officials Lament Press Record”. That news-report was from Reuters, not HuffPo, and the headline was rather ho-hum and certainly ignored the real story here, but having to go 20% down the homepage to find it isn’t quite so terrible, even if that’s not where it belongs — it belongs at the very top of the homepage (and with a headline like “Democracy Ends in Turkey,” which fairly represents both the event and its significance).
Meanwhile, HuffPo’s Worldpost section itself also didn’t lead with this story, but instead with, “A Dangerous Country for Women: The Shocking Reality Of The Sexual Violence In Papua New Guinea” — a tragic cultural reality there, but no actual news-story, much less a news-story that will possibly affect the future history of the entire world. Then, was shown as only an AP headline, down below all of the featured stories (the ones that had pictures there), down in the lower portion of Huffpost’s Worldpost section, was this: “Protestors Met With Tear Gas After Turkey Seizes Control Of Newspaper.” That’s even worse than the NYT. However, unlike the NYT, a reader’s access to all of HP is free; so, readers’ pocketbooks aren’t being charged to read whatever it is.
And then, on March 9th, if one googled the phrase “Democracy Ended in Turkey”, what did one find?
The first listing was “The End of Turkey’s Experiment With Democracy”; that’s dated 16 November 2015, and it’s a professor’s allegation that Turkey’s parliamentary elections on November 1st shouldn’t be called “free and fair.” Perhaps not, but sometimes even Presidential elections in our own country are similarly challenged, without alleging “The End of America’s Experiment With Democracy.”
Another leading listing there was “Turkish Democracy Is Being Quietly Stolen”; that’s dated 4 August 2015, and it’s a Bloomberg columnist’s argument that Erdogan’s policies were set on a path to “revive the ethnic hatreds that mired Turkey in a 30-year war starting in the mid-1980s, costing an estimated 40,000 lives and untold economic opportunity.”
Googling “Democracy Ends in Turkey” produced only one article, my own on March 4th.
Even as of now, there is nowhere the headline “Democracy Ended in Turkey,” despite the fact that it did happen, ten days ago on March 4th, when the Erdogan government took over the nation’s largest newspaper and replaced the personnel. Do American ‘news’ media not think that, if, say, the U.S. government took over and replaced the personnel at The New York Times, we’d have any excuse whatsoever for still calling the U.S. a “democracy”? Maybe they think that freedom of the press to criticize the government isn’t really necessary in a ‘democracy’. That appears to be the virtually universal opinion in our press.
What does this say about whether the United States is a democracy?
Not only did just a few small websites run my news-report, which I had submitted (free-of-charge) to all U.S. ‘news’ media; but, even five days later, none of the ones that didn’t run it had yet reported that democracy had ended in Turkey. Though it’s major news, only few and small news-media in the U.S. have reported it, even now, ten days after it happened. Will they ever report it? Each day that they don’t, makes it even more embarrassing for them that they didn’t. Thus, the best business-decision in such a case is: don’t report it at all. So: maybe they won’t. Ever (except in history-books, perhaps). It’s similar to the situation: there has been no headline “George W. Bush Lied About WMD.” But he did; it merely wasn’t reported, not even after the fact (until I wrote about it in a 2004 book, which few people bought). (When I told major ‘news’ reporters, at the time of the evidence, in September 2002, none were interested; none reported on it, when it was news.)
Why one would pay for any ‘news’ medium, in the U.S., is a problematic question, given the almost uniformly low quality of the news-service they’re all providing to their readers.
Has the U.S. aristocracy’s manipulation of its ‘news’ ‘reporting’ ever been more blatant than is the case today? Not only does the ‘news’ lack the important relevant historical, cultural, and political, context, in order for it to be able to be at all accurately interpreted and understood by readers, but the news-placement is obviously driven by other considerations than to serve the readers’ needs — such as the readers’ needs for the most-significant stories to be in the most-prominent positions.
Ulterior motives obviously drive America’s ‘news’ media. To call that a ‘free’ press is to beg the question: Who owns the press, and whose interests are the employees of ‘news’ organizations (the reporters and the editors) actually being hired to serve? The advertisers’? The owners’? Surely not the subscribers.
If America’s ‘news’ media aren’t trusted, there’s very sound reason for that: they shouldn’t be; and that’s because there’s no intelligent reason for the public to trust them. None.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.