|Here is my column that was published by TZ today:|
|It is July 2013. Still licking his wounds after the lengthy Occupy London protests, an extremely weary, short-tempered David Cameron is in his office in London.|
|He had no idea how to tackle the London demonstrations; he chose the hard way, a lot of people were hurt and he has been under attack by the opposition ever since.
He turns on Sky News. As he watches, he goes ballistic: It is the dreaded Ed Miliband at it again, bashing his administration. Ed has assembled the press, attacking him — can one imagine, him! — for what he has done. Those ungrateful bastards can never let go, can they?
Now fuming, he grabs the phone, and calls the director of operations at Sky News, let’s call him “John.” He was a rather “helpful” person to have had appointed.
The following conversation takes place:
Cameron: John? Is that you? It is me.
John: Yes, Prime Minister?
Cameron: John, are you watching this press briefing at all?
John: Oh, sir, I am at home now, just a minute. Sorry, ehm, do you mean Sky News sir, the one there?
Cameron: Yes, John.
John: Oh no sir, just clicked on…
Cameron: Well, this guy..
John: Yes sir, insufferable…
Cameron: Look John, do you, I mean do you have any bloody idea at all what you are doing? Are you out of your mind? The bloke goes out there, issues a manifest as if Great Britain is finished, collapsed, entirely out of control and you are airing this live?
John: Oh, sir, I am having it cut off right away, sir. Immediately, as you say…
Cameron: What is this? It’s been on a while.
John: Yes, but sir…
Cameron: It has been 20-25 minutes already! Bloody 25 minutes!
John: Just give me three minutes sir; I’ll have it cut.
Cameron: What the heck is going on?
John: Right away sir. I’ll tell them immediately.
Cameron: It is a disgrace! The bloke has been swearing at us [me], from the beginning. How can you let it run like this?
John: Respected sir, it’s to have statements aired by all the parties in parliament, for the record…
Cameron: Why? Why on earth would you do that? Record? Why should you be under any obligation? Well, look at this guy, as if the country is out of control.
John: Yes, prime minister!
Cameron: It is as if traitors have taken over in the country, as if we are in cooperation with them; this press meeting is unacceptable…
John: Yes sir, fully understood sir!
Cameron: Bloody hell!
John: Right away sir. My deepest apologies, dear sir!
Whereupon, the director calls the news editor and makes it very clear, that “our elder is very sad.” The editor resists a bit, but the broadcast is taken off the air.
John is not fully relaxed. Unable to reach Cameron, he calls his brother, let’s call him “Mike,” and tells him, “I am sad to see dear sir sad, let him know.”
This, surely, did not happen in Britain. Now, replace the names: Cameron with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “John” with Fatih Saraç, and the brother, “Mike,” with Bilal Erdoğan, the son of the Turkish prime minister — the conversation above is a verbatim transcript of a series of phone calls that took place.
The conversation apparently took place over the phone– since no denial has been issued — and was leaked over social media Saturday evening. This one is the third in a series of records revealing the real nature of relations between the prime minister himself and the private media.
In the previous recording, Erdoğan, calling from Morocco in the wake of the Gezi protests, asks to have a tiny news ticker removed. Saraç and Fatih Altaylı (an editor at the Habertürk daily) discuss how they can manipulate an opinion poll in favor of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), so that “sir” can be “pleased.”
If this had happened in Britain, or elsewhere in any democracy, the prime minister would be asked to step down immediately. The news channel would be facing a storm and those involved would be fired, unless they were to resign in shame. It would go down as a scandal of historic proportions.
Erdoğan goes on as if nothing has happened; so do the media managers. On Saturday, more than 12 private stations aired his propaganda speech. There is an eclipse of minds taking place.
There is no longer any reliable, independent media to ask for the prime minister’s resignation and for early elections.
In my 35 years of professional experience, I have never witnessed anything like this. I am gravely concerned, including for the safety of the elections.