Channeling Trump, Turkey’s Opposition Bashes CNN as ‘Fake News’
It’s not only Donald Trump who has a beef with CNN’s news coverage. Cable News Network Inc.’s Turkish franchise is also facing backlash for its sympathetic coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, organized simultaneous protests outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta, CNN New York and the White House claiming the channel acts “as a mouthpiece for Erdogan’s AKP government and purposefully spreads false propaganda about opposition parties in Turkey.”
“It is clear that CNN Turk continues to spread fake news, undermine opposition and subjectively support Erdogan’s government that has nothing to do with journalism,” Yurter Ozcan, CHP representative to the U.S., said in an emailed statement. “We will continue our efforts until CNN revokes its name from its Turkish franchise.”
According to Ozcan, CNN said in March that it’s investigating its franchise in Turkey and that it would send a training team to instruct CNN Turk employees on proper journalistic practices.
Asked to comment on the opposition claims, CNN replied: “CNN Turk is an independent channel, which licenses the CNN brand, but as part of this agreement must also adhere to CNN’s standards. CNN Turk has provided assurances and evidence that they are making every effort to provide balanced coverage of the Turkish elections. We are in regular contact with CNN Turk regarding output and editorial practices.”
CNN Turk declined to comment.
Some protesters outside CNN’s Atlanta office held signs saying, “Stop manipulating the elections in Istanbul,” referring to a controversial rerun of the municipal vote there on June after the narrow defeat of Erdogan’s AK Party in March.
Freedom of speech has been sharply abridged in Turkey during Erdogan’s 16 years in power. Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and tens of thousands of people have been investigated for insulting the president. The owners and editorial leadership of leading opposition newspapers have been jailed, detained or faced trials at one point.
Turkey has also banned or blocked access at times to Twitter and YouTube, as well as the virtual private network services that allow users to mask their locations and skirt the bans. Wikipedia — in all languages — has been blocked for more than two years.