The ‘impartiality’ theater of the newspaper

The ‘impartiality’ theater of the newspaper

Talking about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s performance on impartiality, yes, there are exceptional, faulty movements. For him to stand at rallies with the Quran in his hand is a propaganda fault. It is also another fault in impartiality for him to deliver speeches at town rallies during election time. 

It is not “fair play.” It does not comply with the criteria of impartiality. It is against customs and accepted rules. 

However, contrariety is in the nature of the president. He wants to change the rules of the game. We, on the other hand, expect him to try to change by abiding by the rules and by not challenging them. We are expecting him to refrain from practicing new rules before he convinces the majority and obtains more power. He should try introducing new customs without violating the current ones…

Then, not a fair game is being played. The dilemma is there, his and our dilemma. 

When Erdoğan tells us “he is at equal distance from all parties,” a smile spreads on our faces. First of all, the rules that we want him to abide by are not fair, honest and natural, we know that. When he acts as if he is abiding in appearance, we do not find him believable. 

Which president before him was truly impartial that he will be able to remain impartial? Was İsemt İnonü at the same distance from other parties as he was from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Celal Bayar from the Democratic Party (DP), Turgut Özal from the Motherland Party (ANAP), Süleyman Demirel from the True Path Party (DYP), Sezer from the CHP and Gül from the AK Party (ruling Justice and Development Party)? All of them were “acting” as if they were impartial, weren’t they? 

This ready-to-wear costume was hard to put on; none of the previous presidents were happy with this order of hypocrisy. It was going against the grain. The only difference is that Erdoğan does not want to continue this order of hypocrisy and he is not hiding it. 

I also think we should end forcing our elected ones to false pretenses. But what we will put instead cannot be decided only by Erdoğan. Will it be a proper presidential model or an honest transparent parliamentarian regime? The majority of the Turkish people will decide on that at the ballot box. 

Another aspect is that it is now the season for certain journalists to chirp “I am an impartial journalist; the others are unknown. I am at equal distance from all parties; the others are pro-government.”

Whereas, just as Erdoğan keeps an equal distance from all parties, our impartial journalists are also at an equal distance from all parties. 

Objectivity and impartiality are an old media deception. It is the situation where an impartiality blanket is hides secretly supporting one side. Actually, it is a thousand times worse than a transparent and public declaration of taking sides because it deceives the reader openly.  

Even though impartiality is only a claim, some of us still insist on covered support. 

The U.K. is holding general elections. We know which paper is supporting which party, not because of their stories but because they declare openly who they want to be elected.  

Papers such as The Guardian campaigned that the coalition led Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative Party should be toppled and Ed Miliband and the Labor Party should come to power. They do not do it shyly; they have a loud voice.

Others such as the Financial Times and Economist endorse the coalition of conservatives and liberal democrats. 

Among others are Murdoch papers such as The Sun, which do not hesitate to take sides, openly having an opinion. They stand behind Cameron…

In short, the British papers are fervently supporting a side and ask for votes as if they are asking votes for themselves; they are competing with each other. 

However while they are squaring their accounts, the true journalist does not put on the “impartiality costume” and act. 

If you want a fair play, first you should start from yourself. You should also play fair. Otherwise you will not have a right or a face to expect honesty from others.