Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Time’s Puff Piece on Turkey’s Erdogan

For the leaders of enemy regimes, finding useful idiots among the American press corps must be about as hard as shooting fish in a barrel.

•    Asma al-Assad, the wife of murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, was the subject of a glowing feature in Vogue.

•    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can count on NBC’s Ann Curry to provide him a propaganda outlet, while the Office of the Supreme Leader often treated Barbara Slavin, formerly of USA Today, as a go-to reporter who would accept uncritically and amplify Iranian propaganda.

•    The New York Times’s Tom Friedman must do the literal equivalent of “getting a room” whenever his writing turns toward praising China’s one-party state and its leaders.

•    Mahmoud Abbas has, of course, basically anyone at The New York Times, where traditional reporting long ago gave way to opinion and analysis under the guise of news.

Now it’s time to add another bullet: Time Magazine has lent its pages, at least virtually, to an interview filled with soft-ball questions and unabashed puffery toward Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s thuggish prime minister. The interview is here. And here are topics the good folks at Time Magazine never found time to cover:

•    By Turkey’s own statistics, the murder rate of women in Turkey has increased 1,400 percent since Erdoğan took over.

•    While Time provided a basis for Erdoğan’s anti-Israel obsession, they never questioned him on:

—His endorsement of an internationally recognized al-Qaeda financier;

—His embrace of crude anti-Semitic tropes;

—His acceptance, less than a year ago, of a human rights prize awarded by and named in honor of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi;

—Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds, its threats to use military force against Cyprus (one-third of which Turkey occupies in contravention of international law), or his embrace of Sudanese president and indicted genocide perpetrator Omar Al-Bashir;

—Erdoğan’s refusal to condemn Hamas terrorism and even acknowledge that Hamas rockets and bombs are terrorism.

•    The imprisonment of several dozen journalists and Turkey’s plummeting rank in freedom indices.

•    Corruption in Erdoğan’s inner cabinet, and perhaps even among his own family.

As for their hagiographic rock star description, if Time’s reporters were more interested in reporting the news rather than simply hanging out with the rich and powerful, they might have noted the absence of any Turkish representatives—but the presence of Jordanians, Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, and others—during Morocco’s recent conference on democratic transition and constitutional reform in the Middle East. If some Egyptians perceived Erdoğan to be a rock star, then many other Arabs perceived the Turkish leader to be not the Beatles, but rather Beatlemania, a staged throwback to the past. Then again, the Moroccans and their neighbors were more interested in focusing on the issues at hand rather than cheap anti-Israel populism, so perhaps that was of no interest to Time.

It is a shame that American journalists become so enamored with cults of personality and dictator-chic attitudes that they fail at their main tasks: accurate reporting and incisive interviewing.

5 thoughts on “Time’s Puff Piece on Turkey’s Erdogan

  1. the author is extremely biased towards his religious beliefs and his personal connections in israel.

    all his points are false:

    -erdogan never supports al-qaeda. turkish police is really strict to these terrorist and only this year they made 4-5 special operations and arrested over 100 terrorists. And pls remember al-qaeda attacked turkey when erdogan was in power.

    -erdogan is never an antisemite. his government is the most democratic one in the history of republic towards religious minorities. that’s why his party is the most popular amongst these minorities. besides, this year erdogan government decided to give back all minority properties that were taken from them by previous secular-nationalist governments.

    -erdogan went to libya for that award but there was no protest in libya at that time and don’t forget it’s not turkey that kept 150 billion dollars in her bank accounts but western countries. mr author, you should know that at least italy had much more better relations with ghaddafi.
    -erdogan is voted more by kurdish people in turkey than turkish ones. so your funny argument is so baseless that i do not even need to say more.

    -cyprus was part of turkey for 5 centuries. mr. author, your country may not have any history that early but at least you should respect others. anyway, there has always been a strong turkish community in cyprus. and turkey went there to save turkish cypriots from greek eoka terrorist. go back to those years and read the news about their terrorist activities against turkish cypriots. only after a greek coup, turkey intercept this situation by using her guaranteur role.

    -elected by gaza palestinians, hamas is recognized by many counties such as russia. do you have guts to say against somethins about putin?

    -those journalists are in jail for planning coup with many army commanders. so mr author, with whom do you stand? military coup or democratically elected turkish government?

    -last thing. this government is the least corrupted in the history of turkey. take a look at statistics of turkey. if there is a corruption this country couldn’t jump up this much.

    mr. author, try to be unbiased. try to criticize your religiously connected country israel. look at there people don’t like the government.

  2. As first commentator said ” the author is extremely biased towards his religious beliefs and his personal connections in israel.”
    When I saw this author’s article first, Oh another article from biased person. After I had seen a comment from a sensitive Turkish I decided to read this article. From now, I am going to read rubin,s all articles :)

  3. The author seems like he is dreaming of delegitimizing Erdogan without any hesitation of fabricated accusations. The article is heavily stinking of anti-propaganda of Erdogan – One of the most powerfull persons in the world according to Forbes because of his visionary, unprecedented political and economical achievements, straightforwardness and changing the power balances in the most conflicted region in the world towards the direction of fairness.

    It would be a good idea of being transparent about the background of the authors in political matters to determine how objective and credible they are in their comments as the way it is being done in the financial comments of any analyst’s objectivity by transparently declaring if the analyst or his institution have an investment related with his comments or not.

  4. I agree that the author is totally biased.Erdogan’s Government has no connection what so ever with al-qaeda.Whole of the time , Erdogan’s gov. has been in contact and in cooperation with the US gov. against al-qaeda.I think the author has any idea about the Turkiye at all.I offer him to get to know this country than comment its government.Turkiye is the biggest ally of western world in the middle east.

  5. I wonder…those who criticize the article. Did you click on any of the links that the author provided in support of his arguments??

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