Erdoğan insults media proprietor after PKK top story, reduces him to tears

A newly leaked audio recording allegedly reveals Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insulted a media mogul for running a critical news story and reducing him to tears.
Erdoğan is heard in the audio clip, leaked by Twitter user Başçalan and uploaded onto YouTube on Thursday, bashing the owner of the Milliyet daily, Erdoğan Demirören, for a story run by the newspaper about the minutes of a meeting between pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) deputies and the imprisoned leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, in March 2013.

In early March of last year, minutes of the meeting between the BDP deputies and the PKK chief were leaked to the media and Milliyet ran the story. The report, which made public Öcalan’s thoughts on the talks between the government and the PKK to end the three-decade-old Kurdish dispute and armed conflict, sent shockwaves across the country. The report also included Öcalan’s thoughts on several politicians and opinion leaders.

Erdoğan bashed the Milliyet daily at the time, accusing it of attempting to sabotage the settlement process, which was in its nascent stage then.

The newly leaked recording reveals that Erdoğan spoke with Milliyet owner Demirören right after the publication of the news report about the minutes of the İmralı meeting. Erdoğan is heard asking Demirören to fire the editor-in-chief and Namık Durukan, the correspondent who wrote the article after obtained the minutes from a whistleblower.

Erdoğan says the settlement process is a very delicate issue and that media outlets are expected to show outmost sensitiveness not to raise [nationalist sentiment] against the government’s initiative.

The Milliyet owner is heard offering his apology for the news piece, which, according to Erdoğan, is detrimental to the critical talks with the PKK as part of the settlement process, and assures the prime minister that he would do what is necessary — to fire the editor-in-chief and the reporter.

Toward the end of the conversation, the Milliyet owner is heard crying, expressing his regret over entering the media business. “Why did I get involved in this [business]?” Demirören, who is 76 years old, is heard saying while crying following the heavy insults from the Turkish prime minister.

 

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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