A few days ago we read in the Taraf daily that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been paying some young people TL 800 to 4,000 monthly to manage Twitter accounts and send fake tweets to manipulate public perception. They do not hesitate to target and insult people, especially those who do not share the AKP’s views. According to the analysis in Taraf, all these account holders are overseen by AKP Deputy Chairman Süleyman Soylu. I really wonder what kind of justice and development can be brought to Turkey through the use of these techniques, including manipulating perception, insulting key figures and targeting those who have fallen out of favor with the government. This situation is now becoming an even greater threat to Turkish democracy as the media is under tighter control and journalists are regularly cursed and threatened. Many important figures in the AKP do this without batting an eye. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been known to call media bosses and “request” the dismissal ofspecific journalists who don’t conform to his expectations. In my opinion, this atmosphere of pressure will carry on for some time. Prominent figures in the Turkish media — like Hasan Cemal, Mehmet Altan or Ahmet Altan — are not able to write anymore. If you search the Internet, you can find long lists of journalists who were fired from their positions just because of their criticism of the government. On the other hand, we also see certain names rise to the top with extraordinary speed. This is due to their open and limitless “support” for the government. Government control over major daily newspapers has reached a stage to which we can now compare the dailies with Pravda, the Soviet conduit for announcing official ideology. It has become, in recent years, more like a family business. To illustrate, Berat Albayrak is Erdoğan’s son-in-law and a columnist for the Sabah daily, Albayrak’s brother is the CEO of the entire media group to which Sabah belongs, and their father owns the media group. The politicalsituation Erdoğan is creating is critical. The president has declared that he will not attend the meeting regarding the opening of the new judicial year organized by the Supreme Court of Appeals if Metin Feyzioğlu, chairman of the
Turkish Bar Association (TBB), attends the event. As some willrecall, last year Erdoğan scolded Feyzioğlu for speaking for too long at a meeting of the Council1 9 2014 Today’s Zaman, Turkish dailynews of State, though everyone knows the realreason for the scolding was because Erdoğan didn’t like Feyzioğlu’s criticism. On that day, when Erdoğan left the meeting room, now-former president Abdullah Gül had been sitting next to Erdoğan. Gül eventually followed Erdoğan out of the room after some hesitation. We’ve gotten used to this childish behavior on the part of Erdoğan in recent years, but a move from the Supreme Court of Appeals declaring that TBB Chairman Feyzioğlu will deliver a speech at the opening ceremony gave us hope. This will put the institution in Erdoğan’s crosshairs in the very near future, as the AKP trolls have started to tweet about it recently. If you look at the media that are under the thumb of the government, you will not be able to read a balanced discussion. Malcolm X, the Muslim African-American human rights activist, said: “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Can we trust the Turkish media?