By Adam McConnel
Sunday night, as fireworks marked celebrations in certain Istanbul neighborhoods, the atmosphere in Etiler turned funereal. The clanking pots and pans of the Istanbul elites turned into a dirge for Turkey’s disintegrating Jacobin oligarchy.
On the other side of the Atlantic, in a certain tower in Midtown Manhattan, I’m sure the mood was equally grim. The Gray Lady was undoubtedly displeased by the Turkish masses’ preferences. New imperial missives, brimming with reprobation for the disobedient natives, were immediately put in the pipeline.
I suppose I expect too much. After eighteen months (more than a decade, actually) of this wackiness, I should realize that the NYT’s obsession with Tayyip Erdoğan won’t be affected by repeated election victories, presentation of the facts, or calm and rational explanations. Their attitude is clearly pathological.
The NYT editors provided their latest papal bull for our amusement only hours before the polls opened on Sunday. Titled “Turkey’s Erdoğan Should Listen to the Voters” (31 October 2015), the column was a rehash of themes that the NYT editors have been flogging for the past eighteen months: Erdoğan is on a “relentless drive to win and consolidate power”; the Turkish media is subject to a “fierce crackdown on the media orchestrated by Mr. Erdogan”; “Erdogan is directly responsible for much of the climate of insecurity that has settled over Turkey.” The casual reader could be forgiven for coming away from the column without realizing that Sunday’s election was a parliamentary election that had nothing to do with Turkey’s Presidency, which is Mr. Erdoğan’s actual position.
The 49% of the Turkish electorate that voted for the AKP on Sunday did so for reasons far removed from the NYT editors’ neuroses. They voted for democracy, for an end to the political violence that has wracked Turkish society for decades, for politicians who offer constructive policies and compromises, not for maximalist ideologues. The NYT understands little of this.
Today, a new spate of articles appeared, and the depiction of Turkish events had changed not a whit. Unchastened, the NYT editors allowed or chose face-palm titles like “Erdogan’s Violent Victory,” “Party Victory in Turkey Bolsters Erdogan’s Pursuit of Power,” and “Erdogan’s Formula for Consolidating Clout in Turkey.” All we can do is politely tell the NYT editors that their coverage of Turkey continues to damage the reputation of their paper.
So my suggestion is simple. The NYT editors should take their own advice: listen to the Turkish voters. Turkish voters understand the issues that they are voting on far more profoundly than whomever it is that provides the NYT editors with their information on Turkish politics and society. After four elections in eighteen months in which either the AKP or Tayyip Erdoğan received at least fourteen percent more votes than the nearest competitor, have the NYT editors not begun to suspect that they are being taken for a ride?