The U.S. presidential election process is bringing out the best and worst in Turkish media and opposition circles, with journalists from across the political spectrum and the country’s opposition chiming in on the race that has the world at the edge of its seat.
Everything from Twitter’s flagging of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets to the United States’ predominantly-liberal media has been under the spotlight since Tuesday evening.
“It is a mystery why (Trump) didn’t establish his own media,” television host Uğur Önver said during a live coverage of the election on Wednesday morning on CNN Türk, a news network that is widely viewed as one of the ones under control of Erdoğan and his government, after a commentator said 90 percent of U.S. media was in the hands of Trump’s opposition.
“Like Berlusconi did,” Önver added, after a short pause. “You know, Silvio Berlusconi founded a media empire during his term as prime minister in Italy.”
Twitter’s decision to flag Trump’s tweets also came under criticism during the evening’s coverage, with CNN Türk host and editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Hürriyet newspaper Ahmet Hakan taking a jab at the social networking platform for being an arbitrator of reliable news.
“What’s it to you if he tells the truth or not?” Hakan, a frequent defender of the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, asked, as his guests explained why the social media giant placed warnings on Trump’s tweets.
“He is giving information, be it right or wrong,” Hakan said.
“Is it up to Twitter to critique whether information given by the president of the United States is truthful or not, and to censor it? How ridiculous is that!” the pro-government host added.
In the same discussion, a former member of the Turkish military, Yusuf Alabarda, said Twitter was hypocritical as the company “never had this level of morality when Turkey’s opposition leaders lied about election fraud.”
Meanwhile, a reporter for the pro-government Yeni Şafak called Kamala Harris the “shadow presidential candidate,” and said the Democratic Party aimed to push Harris’s “aggressive views” to office, which he called “harmful for Turkey.”
The reporter said Harris was notoriously hostile to Turkey, “even in her days as District Attorney.”
Yeni Şafak also accused centre-left main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Deniz Yavuzyılmaz of likening Turkey to a man on death row, when the deputy posted a meme from the Netflix film Ballads of Buster Scruggs.
“Hello Big Turkiye! First time?” Yavuzyılmaz said in his tweet, referencing Turkey being called “little America” after the liberalization of its economy in the 1980s, with the hanging scene in the film.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told an interviewer that Trump was aggressive, and his view of Turkey had “caused deep tremors beyond very deep concerns.”
Trump’s letter to Erdoğan over Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria last October, where the U.S. president warned Erdoğan to “not be a fool,” was “far removed from diplomatic politeness,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that Erdoğan was worried in the face of a possible Trump defeat.