The Problem With the Opposing Neighborhood
In autocratic regimes, it is actually more difficult to be close than distant to the leader.
When you are close, you risk infuriating the often-temperamental leader and there is a good chance that you will have to take the blame for what s/he does.
It is really taxing to be a minister in this government. Let’s take the interview Deutsche Welle made with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu for example: Sebastian, who is a seasoned DW correspondent directed his questions in a straight and relaxed manner. It was good journalism; he asked his questions and listened to the responses. Cavusoglu was often backed into a corner which is not surprising, since it is becoming more and more challenging to explain our President’s action nowadays.
Sebastian presses on Cavusoglu by asking him what he thinks about the President’s statement that Turkey no longer needs the EU. And the best Cavusoglu can do is beat around the bush. It is Erdogan, after all, you never know what he can do or say.
The President meets with international investors in London and says something tactless, discourteous and crazy like “you don’t know how the economy works, you must look at us as an example” and all hell breaks loose. Mehmet Simsek and the Chairman of Turkey’s central bank rushes back to London to appease the investors saying “The president did say those things but pay no heed to him. It is actually us who are running the economy. We are good at handling him.”
This is the exact picture we are facing: whatever our leader says goes, and then our cabinet is left with the task of picking up the pieces after him.
Sadly, we, the journalists and you, the readers, know exactly what is what.
But then we read about Konda’s poll on voter perception and the hard truth hits us in the face: A big majority of AKP voters are only watching A-Haber and no other news channel. Whether we like it or not, there is a big percentage of the population who get their daily dose of news from this channel alone and their perception is shaped by what A-Haber reports. I would actually encourage you to watch A-Haber if you have any interest in politics. It is a perfect way to detect and comprehend the universe that exists outside ours, and how perceptions are formed there. It is as if there is a completely alternate reality over there. In the A-Haber universe, the whole world shivers at the sight and sound of Erdogan. Everyone is either ecstatic, or else, jealous. The very things that we make fun of in our universe, constitute the reality over there.
There is a segment in A-Haber where reporters ask questions to would-be-voters. The reporter, almost exclusively, goes to neighborhoods with CHP supporters in majority, like Aviclar or Kadikoy. The reporter asks the persons on the street about who and why they are likely to vote for. It is clearly obvious that the editing of this segment is cut in such a way to manipulate the people’s opinions. What this says to the AKP voters that watch A-Haber is that even the CHP voters are enamored by Erdogan.
In this universe, Cavussoglu’s hum and haw in front of Sebastian and Mehmet Simsek rushing back to London to calm down the investors carry completely different implications. And for the people that are glued to this channel, this becomes the reality.
Our current government has managed to set up a completely alternative universe thanks to the stronghold they have over the media. Therefore, the opposition has a mountain to climb if they cannot access this universe and reveal its disingenuity to A-Haber audience.
Published in Turkish in https://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/obur-mahalle-meselesi-218408.html