It’s time to end CNN’s license for hateful content on CNN Turk


Turkish media recently reported this CNN International sends a team to Turkey to “examine the broadcasting policy of its Turkish branch”, which has been “criticized for its partial reporting”. This late movement gives CNN an opportunity to dissociate his brand from one of the main propaganda media of the increasingly authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is high time for CNN to revoke his license for CNN Turkish and its hateful content.

CNN‘s “sister networkCNN Turkish started broadcasting in Turkey in 1999 and was a leading medium in its early days. Chain became synonymous with self-censorship when she broadcast a documentary on penguins in 2013 instead of reporting the Events at Gezi Park, who has witnessed protests across the country against the authoritarianism of the Erdogan government. At the time, even CNN mocked his sister channel in Turkey for showing the penguin documentary; it was broadcast pictures of a Turkish guest, during a live interview with CNN Turkish, take off his shirt to reveal a penguin T-shirt underneath to protest the broadcaster’s editorial policies.

These policies deteriorated as a result of CNN Turkish‘s forced sale has a pro-government conglomerate in 2018. When asked if the sale would result in CNN to reconsider granting a license in his name CNN Turkish, CNNthe global executive vice president of has been evasive, saying, “If… we have any reason to believe that the channel’s journalistic integrity could be compromised by the new owners, we will revoke the license.” The spike in anti-Semitic, racist and conspiratorial content on CNN TurkishPlatforms since then show that time has come and gone.

Retired Turkish Ambassador on Talk Show CNN Turkish aired in april by mistake claims, “The Jews rule the world. They control 27 percent of the US economy.” A senior Erdogan adviser joined him with his incorrect, dangerous and anti-Semitic rants: “They also run the military, politics, the media and most importantly the film industry.” During this exchange, the CNN Turkish The anchor only stepped in once to note that although there are only 7 million Jews in the United States, “their influence is very high.”

It was not a one-off episode. The year before, Louis Fishman, associate professor at Brooklyn College critical CNN Turkish for another talk show, where a guest known for his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories claimed that an Israeli professor at Harvard University developed the COVID-19 virus as a biological weapon in partnership with a laboratory in Wuhan. This anti-Semitic trope has come at a sensitive time when a peak in coronavirus cases in Turkey has also exacerbated anti-Semitic accounts, triggering accusations that Jews were responsible for the pandemic. When one of the other guests attempted to push back on such a conspiracy theory, the CNN Turkish moderator intervened in defense, “But can his theory be refuted?”

The charges against CNN Turkish is not limited to anti-Semitism. The network has also been criticized for racist content targeting black people on its Twitter feed and online news platform.

A Turkish national flag flies near the logos of Kanal D TV channel and CNN Turk at the Dogan Media Group complex in Istanbul on March 22, 2018.
OZAN ​​KOSE / AFP via Getty Images

In 2019, in a tweet now deleted, the network accused British lawmaker David Lammy for disseminating “black propaganda” for his criticism of former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria. CNN Turkish tampered with the accompanying photo to give Lammy darker skin tone, which was the first black british to attend Harvard Law School. Lammy responded on Twitter, “Why has @cnnturk clouded my image in this photo to accuse me of propaganda? I raise important questions about Trump’s decision to surrender the Kurds to Erdogan’s forces in the northeastern Syria. ” Like The independent Noted, “Many online commentators noted that the terminology and the photo appeared to refer to Mr. Lammy’s run.”

Less than a year later, following the worldwide protests against racism following the murder of George Floyd, CNN Turkish published an article on Afro-Turks published by the semi-official Turkish newspaper Anadolu Agency. The article, which quotes Turkish citizens of Sudanese descent criticizing racism in the United States and celebrating the claim that there is no racism in Turkey, fails to mention that the ancestors of the Afro-Turks came to in the region as slaves two centuries earlier. CNN TurkishThe article whitewashed the Ottoman practice of slavery by calling Afro-Turks “grandchildren of Afro-Turks who came from Sudan in the 1800s for agricultural work.” Although the video reportage inlaid in the original room in Anadolu Agencythe website included several interviews where Afro-Turks complained about daily discrimination and name-calling in Turkey, this detail did not appear in CNN Turkishthe version.

Piotr Zalewski, The Economistcorrespondent from Turkey, commented on Twitter, “This play is a disgrace. No, the ancestors of Afro-Turks did not ‘come’ to the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s“ for agricultural work. ”” Istanbul-based critic and writer Arie Amaya -Akkermans Okay: “This article should be required reading in the race theory curriculum; it is hard to be more wrong (other than lying outright of course).” Despite the similarities critical through academics, CNN Turkish did not issue an apology or correction. The article is still on his site.

The downward trajectory of CNN Turkisheditorial policies, as well as its hateful content, show that CNNThe sister network of is now a platform that engages in conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic tropes and racist rhetoric. On its website, CNN States this CNN Turkish “Authorizes the CNN trademark and has access to CNN content, training and services under the license agreement.” Given that CNNtraining and services failed to remedy CNN Turkishracist content targeting Jews and blacks, CNN should disassociate himself from his Turkish partner and his hateful content. This would be the right step not only from a moral point of view but also from a commercial point of view, and would prevent further tarnishing a company that prides itself on being “the most honored brand in the news, commits to a “mission to inform, engage and empower the world. “

Aykan Erdemir is Senior Director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish Parliament. @aykan_erdemir

Toby Dershowitz is senior vice president of government relations and strategy at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. @TobyDersh

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors.


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