Freedom of the press

Freedom of the press

How Turkey lost its F-4 reconnaissance plane on June 22 is of course important. Was it shot down by Syria’s Russian-made advance air defense missile systems? Was it shot down by anti-aircraft fire by Syrians? Did a loyal Syrian woman miss her spoiled son and hit the Turkish jet with a slipper she threw at the boy? Or did a spoiled kid shoot down the Turkish fighter with a slingshot?

How the Turkish military reconnaissance plane was lost and where it was lost are important questions the answers of which the state will never, ever provide, very much like how indeed the Turkish state bombarded its own civilian citizens the night of Dec. 28, killing 34 people, many of them children, assuming that they were terrorists.

By definition, journalists ought to be “opposition” to virtually everything at the expense of being declared unwanted or even banished to concentration camps like the one in the Silivri area of Turkey. Even though at times media bosses engage in lucrative business deals with the government and direct criticism of the government becomes all the more costly, through cartoons or articles of witty and veteran journalists, the media continues to be the eyes and ears of the public. Why do you think at one point in our recent political history we had a cartoon magazine, “Gır Gır,” selling almost 1.5 million copies a week? Or, unfortunately, not all of them live up to their reason d’être, but why do we have so many columnists in the Turkish media?

A journalist friend, Leyla Kemal, wrote an article in daily Taraf yesterday. I do not like Taraf newspaper. It appears to me that it is a newspaper created by some outside elements to serve a certain aim they want to achieve in Turkey. But, everyone should salute good journalism irrespective of where the story appeared. In her story Leyla wrote about emerging details that Turkey’s allies had gathered through their bases on Cyprus, satellites and other means that underline the high probability that the Turkish jet was downed or fell “INSIDE” Syrian territory – unlike Turkish assertions that it was downed in international airspace.

Well, what difference would it make where the plane was downed (or fell) as long as we lost a plane and the two young officers piloting it?

For an answer to the question let us return to the headline: Freedom of press! What’s the connection between what happened and how it happened to the reconnaissance jet and the freedom of media?

Leyla’s story was to appear in daily Sabah… The paper of “our Çalık,” who also owns ATV and the A Haber channels – lately the prime minister appears on only those two channels to answer the questions of a select group of breast-fed journalists. This week Sabah had announced that it would report an earth-shattering story on the reconnaissance plane… According to “rumors” after it was censored – pardon, ordered not to run such stories – and probably considering the many lucrative deals between the government and its boss, the paper forgot to publish its “earth-shattering report.”

Well done Leyla… We still don’t have a reliable report on what in fact happened to the jet. We don’t know how it fell, or whether it was downed by Syrians. Now, we know, however, that the Turkish government lied to the Turkish public and the world when it categorically asserted that the jet was downed in international airspace. The latest evidence apparently showed it was in Syrian airspace when it encountered its fate…

And of course, Sabah lost, along with masters of censorship.