You don’t read about President Erdogan in the pages of Washington Post, New York Times, or New Yorker:
As Turkey heads toward a constitutional referendum designed to grant its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even greater powers, the polls predict a neck-and-neck race.
That doesn’t mean their chances are equal. While the April vote is likely to be free, whether it will be fair — given rising repression of political dissent and the ongoing state of emergency — is another question.
Take the case of İrfan Değirmenci, a well-known news anchor for Kanal D, who explained his opposition to the proposed changes in a series of tweets earlier this month. “No to the one who views scientists, artists, writers, cartoonists, students, workers, farmers, miners, journalists and all who do not obey as the enemy,” he wrote.
He was promptly fired.
Değirmenci’s dismissal has heightened fears among No campaigners that those who oppose the new constitution will be subject to threats and intimidation ahead of the referendum on April 16.
“A lot of people are risking their careers and their future by openly and publicly campaigning for No,” said İlhan Tanir, a Turkish columnist and analyst based in Washington. “There is nothing fair about this.”
Government supporters face no such risk: While Kanal D claimed Değirmenci had been let go for violating the media group’s neutrality rule, Yes supporters have been free to air their views in the pages of Hürriyet, which belongs to the same group.
Hurriyet itself — a newspaper that positions itself as neutral — has muted critical voices: Its editors last week scrapped an interview with Orhan Pamuk, in which the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist explained his reasons for voting No.
So why do elite journalists cover the Trump administration as if we’re living in the television series, Man in the High Castle. Perhaps because they believe in American innocence as much as Jerry Falwell, Jr.