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Noam Chomsky declaring his solidarity with the anti-AKP protests in Turkey

On August 26, Yeni Safak published an email interview conducted by reporter Burcu Bulut with Noam Chomsky. On Friday, Chomsky published the contents of the email interview with questions and answers on his personal website, revelaling the stark difference between Chomsky’s published text and the interview published in Yeni Şafak.

Bulut reproached the initial criticisms levelled against her, complaining of being the target of a smear campaign. Later, Yeni Safak released a statement admitting to plagiarism in “three sentences”: “We saw a mass resistance, made up of Morsi supporters, which moved with a longing of democracy,” “The tragedy of Asma, the massacred daughter of senior Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohammad al-Beltagy, cannot be forgotten” and “Lebanon and Tunisia are also at the cannon’s end”. Thorough the statement, Yeni Safak nevertheless insisted that the criticisms leveled against the paper were ideologically driven.

According to the Newspaper’s version of events, an email with 23-24 questions were sent to Chomsky. He gave short answers that would not suffice for a first page piece at the paper. So, a second set of questions were sent to Chomsky which don’t appear in the transcript published by himself. Reporter Bulut is claiming that ChomsKy must have forgotten about the second set of Q&As…

In reality, it is clear that not only did the paper mistranslate Chomsky to change the meaning of what he was saying to suit the ideological message the paper wanted to give, but half the stuff that Chomsky allegedly said did not exist in the first place!

The grammar of the second set of questions and answers (from the transcript published by Yeni Safak) are so appalling that it is embarrassing the newspaper would actually expect people to believe those words were written by Chomsky, let alone anyone. It is blatant that an online translator was used to translate a text from Turkish to English. The original is often unintelligible and includes a Turkish idiom that was translated into English literally.

So Chomsky allegedly says, “This complexity in the Middle East, do you think the Western states flapping because of this chaos? Contrary to what happens when everything that milk port, enters the work order, then begins to bustle in the West. I’ve seen the plans works. We’re going through a difficult period.”

Beyond the issue of grammar, the interview itself is riddled with conspiracy theories about the military coup in Egypt and the current developments in the Middle East. It is pro- Turkish foreign policy through and through…

To give one example, Chomsky said, “Erdogan harshly condemned the coup and voiced strong support for the Muslim Brotherhood. And in Syria has been supporting the highly fragmented and complex rebel opposition. In both cases I think more nuanced approaches are appropriate.” Yeni Safak translated this as, “Turkey stood by the oppressed  not the oppressor. Turkey has suffered from dictatorships, coups and single man rule. The response of Turkey [to Egypt] as a country that has lost countless lives for similar reasons is understandable.” 

In another part of the interview, Chomsky allegedly said Turkey is a powerful country and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a charismatic leader. He reportedly added that Turkey is the only nation in the Middle East that connects the West and the East. “It is a good mediator as well as a Muslim and deeply democratic country,” Chomsky reportedly said.

Make no mistake that this Chomsky interview incident is a scandal added to a long list of examples that go well beyond ‘journalistic irresponsibility’. Newspapers in Turkey have either become the mouth piece of the AKP government publishing lies and fake interviews as a part of the propaganda machine or sources of non-factual anti-AKP rebuttals based on ideological positions.

I’d like to remind that another pro-government newspaper had published a fake Amampour (CNN Anchor) intervirew where she had allegedly admitted to covering the Gezi protests in Turkey “on behalf of business interests that wanted to hurt the country’s economy.”

In short, the political polarisation in Turkey has reduced the quality of journalism so far down the drain that the number of articles which live up to international standards is close to zero.