by WorldTribune Staff, December 12, 2018
In naming persecuted journalists as its persons of the year for 2018, Time magazine presented an extensive analysis of the state of the free press worldwide.
The name of the world’s top jailer of journalists – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – was not mentioned.
Special honors went to murdered Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
The Turkish president’s absence from Time’s analysis “is even more notable in light of the key role that Erdogan and his intelligence agents played in ensuring that Khashoggi’s disappearance and murder be the subject of some of the sloppiest and least reliable journalism in modern history,” Frances Martel wrote for Breitbart on Dec. 11.
In the persons of the year piece titled “The Guardians”, Time identifies “the question Khashoggi was killed over” as “Whom do you trust to tell the story?”
Martel noted that “The magazine does not mention the man American media trusted the most – Erdogan himself – or the confusion in the immediate aftermath of Khashoggi’s disappearance prompted by outrageously gruesome details ‘Turkish sources’ fed to American media outlets about Khashoggi’s last days.”
Many media outlets eagerly ran with information from Erdogan’s intelligence agents including that Saudi operatives had dismembered Khashoggi while he was still alive, or dissolved him in acid, or that he recorded his death on an Apple Watch he happened to be wearing.
“Erdogan himself fed the speculation, claiming the Saudis had ‘painted over’ evidence and all but stopping short of accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of killing Khashoggi himself,” Martel noted.
Meanwhile, more the 250 journalists are locked up in Turkish jails, and over 100 more face arrest warrants.
Just this week, prosecutors in Turkey sought to have a group of five journalists from an opposition newspaper sentenced to 15 years in prison. Sozcu newspaper columnists Emin Colasan and Necati Dogru and three editors are accused of assisting a movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, The Associated Press reported, citing Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
In its persons of the year feature, Martel noted, “Time gives column space to exactly one persecuted Turkish journalist: Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s last remaining major opposition publication.”
The magazine, however, made no mention in Dundar’s story of Erdogan’s “pivotal role in ensuring that the journalist would have to choose between prison and exile for having the nerve to approve the publication of an article exposing Erdogan’s meddling in the Syrian civil war,” Martel wrote. “The larger story of Cumhuriyet, the nation’s oldest continuously publishing daily newspaper, also exposes true silencing of the press through violence and intimidation – allegedly the topic of the Time article.”
In October, Erdogan notably remarked: “Democracy is empowered by the people. There is democracy if there are people. Democracy is not possible with the media.”
It is estimated that Erdogan has shut down over 180 media outlets since the failed coup against him in 2016.
“Turkey’s censorship of the press is extraordinary, even in a world where the political values of rogue states like China appear on the ascendant,” Martel wrote. “It is no secret, nor does Erdogan appear to intend it to be. That Erdogan escaped personal criticism from Time raises questions on the true objective of this year’s recognition and Time‘s own biases regarding press freedom.”