Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) organized simultaneous protests outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta, CNN New York and the White House, claiming the channel’s Turkish service acts as a “mouthpiece for [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s government and purposefully spreads false propaganda about opposition parties in Turkey,” Bloomberg reported.
“It is clear that CNN Türk continues to spread fake news, undermine opposition and subjectively support Erdoğan’s government that has nothing to do with journalism,” Yurter Özcan, CHP representative to the US, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will continue our efforts until CNN revokes its name from its Turkish franchise.”
According to Özcan, CNN said in March that it is investigating its franchise in Turkey and that it would send a training team to instruct CNN Türk employees on proper journalistic practices.
Asked to comment on the opposition claims, CNN replied: “CNN Türk is an independent channel, which licenses the CNN brand, but as part of this agreement must also adhere to CNN’s standards. CNN Türk has provided assurances and evidence that they are making every effort to provide balanced coverage of the Turkish elections. We are in regular contact with CNN Türk regarding output and editorial practices.”
Some protesters outside CNN’s Atlanta office held signs saying “Stop manipulating the elections in İstanbul,” referring to a controversial re-run of the municipal vote there on June 23 after the narrow defeat of Erdoğan’s ruling party in March.
CNN Türk changed hands last year after billionaire Aydın Doğan sold Turkey’s largest private media company to Erdoğan loyalist Demirören Holding, ending years of harassment by authorities.
Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and tens of thousands of people have been investigated for insulting the president. The owners and editorial leadership of leading opposition newspapers have been jailed, detained or faced trials at one point.
Turkey has also banned or blocked access at times to Twitter and YouTube, as well as the virtual private network services that allow users to mask their locations and skirt the bans. Wikipedia — in all languages — has been blocked for more than two years.