from the wobbles-so-much-you-can't-even-call-it-'spin' dept
Turkish president Recep Erdogan is at it again. Not content to merely be viewed as a megalomaniacal, ring-coveting authoritarian, Erdogan is using his time in mixed company to assure the world he’s angling for the title of “tyrant.”
Erdogan’s long history of abusing laws to shut critics up has been covered extensively here. He’s gone from a comical but dangerous politician to the leading abuser of his own constituents in record time. When not attempting to push foreign countries to play by his censorship rules, Erdogan is locking up dissidents and journalists at an alarming rate.
Of course, they’re not journalists… at least not when Erdogan’s telling the story. While speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, the Turkish president had this to say about the journalists in his country’s jails.
You have been misled, Erdogan told Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who interviewed him on stage. “The ones who have been sentenced, who have been imprisoned, are not journalists. Most of them are terrorists.”
Define “terrorist.” In the wrong hands/minds, the word “terrorist” could be used to describe anyone threatening to the party in power, even if nothing more dangerous than words or thoughts have been deployed. I have no doubt Erdogan believes journalists are terrorists, even if they’ve never done anything more than criticize him and his policies.
But Erdogan at least went into a little more detail about this claim. He explained the vast amount of terrorism participated in by the terrornalists he’s tossed in his jails.
“Many have been involved in burglaries and some have been caught red handed as they were trying to empty ATM machines.”
Odd. That sounds more like normal criminal activity. It does not sound like terrorism. I realize terrorists need to fund their activities, but this doesn’t sound like terrorist acts. This sounds like bog standard theft.
So, these journalists Erdogan calls “terrorists” (because of their alleged burglaries) remain in jail. There’s at least 150 still imprisoned, according to the Quartz article. But that’s not the limit of Erdogan’s abuse of the press. Erdogan shut down hundreds of media outlets in an initial assault on the press, following it up with mass arrests. A few thousand journalist were swept up by Erdogan’s post-coup-attempt purge, most of whom ended up with no place to work and no press credentials to use.
After this, Erdogan went on to make many more counterfactual statements, including claiming he doesn’t take proactive steps to stifle criticism and spinning the beatings handed out by his bodyguards during his visit to the White House as an all-out assault by crazed anti-Turkey Americans while US law enforcement officers stood idly by.
These are all hallmarks of a sociopathic authoritarian — the type of person who always believes they’re right even when the rest of the world agrees they’re wrong. His sweeping away of facts with provably untrue statements shows he really doesn’t care if anyone believes him, but will still do everything in his power to make sure those that don’t believe can’t be heard.