“Turkey’s biggest media conglomerate sold to a pro-government businessman,” tweeted a foreign journalist of a Turkish state own TV channel. One of the biggest and oldest media group of Turkey was sold on March 22nd and that is what she was referring to in her tweet. But only by using a infamous western narrative. What she didnt know or did not mind is the very media she works at is also labeled pro-government by the western media. “Pro-government” is a label to describe media and businesses who are not opposed to the governments that stand their ground against the western establishment. Mostly used for Turkey, Russia and a handful of other countries. But who and what could become “pro-government” in Turkey in the eyes of “impartial” western media might just surprise you.
Turkey’s ruling Ak Party came to power in a land slide election at the end of 2002. Erdogan, then Prime Minister, had a good relations with the west. His government was hailed by the western media for increasing democratic standards and fighting powerful military to diminish its influence over the state matters. Back then there was no classification of pro or anti government of the Turkish media. Turkey fought hard to solve its decades old Cyprus issue and took on big risks to reinstate relations with Armenia during first years of Erdogan’s administration. Despite being treated unfairly for its effort, Erdogan’s government did not change his ground towards the west. In the end, it was all politics. But it all started to change after a clandestine network of Fettulah Gulen broke its alliance with Erdogan. Gulen movement had its own game when Erdogan was trying to improve the devastated Turkish economy on one hand and fighting Kemalist elites and military on the other. Gulenists had infiltrated every single institution of the country but mainly the army and the judiciary. The secretive organization had a potent support of the west notably the US. But when Erdogan realized that their aim was to take over the country rather than serve it, he started to fight them as well. It was around year 2008. Then the western media slowly started changing its narrative on Erdogan and Turkey as well.
In a few years, Erdogan had been demonized by the west. The media, journalists and the businessmen and even ordinary citizens who did not stand up to Erdogan was labeled pro-government or Erdogan loyalists. But on the other hand the same newspapers and News channels blamed Erdogan for polarizing the Turkish society. The western media gave you two choices: You could either be normal by opposing Erdogan or get labeled as pro-government by not opposing him. By 2017, especially after Erdogan quashing a coup attempt which was clearly carried out by Gulen followers in the army, everything in the country from police to academics turned “Erdogan’s”, unless of course they oppose him. Those who followed Turkey through the ink of western media would wonder what else could be labeled pro-government in Turkey. If you think nothing left, think twice.
On March 29th, Financial Times published an article which pushed the level of one’s imagination to its limits. The headline of the article went “Political football: ‘pro-government’ club shakes up Turkish league.” Yes indeed. Even a football club could get the “pro-government” label of the western media. What Financial Times was referring to in its article is Istanbul-based club Basaksehir.
“Basaksehir is an upstart club with a small fan base. But it has shaken up the Turkish football establishment as it has become the most successful attempt yet by supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to create a “pro-government” club,” the article continued. How Financial Times came to the conclusion that the club was “pro-government” was alleged “close links” of those who run the club to president Erdogan. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the controlling shareholder of a company which owned iconic Italian football club Milan for almost 30 years. But not even once in the western media one could came across the term “pro-government” for the Italian club.
Bets are open for the next step in pro-government saga of the western media on Turkey. It looks like we dont have to wait too long to see what else could be labeled pro-government considering people, media and the businessmen just overlook the western prejudice and do what they do the best: Serve their country.