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Monday, September 10, 2018

Italians Demand Answers (Erdogan and Trump and the Media)

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Italians Demand Answers

"Remember that [Erdogan] is a very skilled politician and that he really speaks to his base, the whole time, and in a country that is incredibly polarized between those who revere him and those who revile him he is speaking to the 50 percent of the country that votes for him and they are very nationalist, they are addicted to conspiracy theories which he stokes.

And so we've seen rather amazing videos over the last few days. There was one of some of his supporters when President Erdogan said that Turkey should boycott American electronic goods, they have the iPhone, we have Vestel which is a Turkish electronics company, there was a video that was circulating of his supporters probably taking a sledge hammer to iPhones and smashing each one and saying, this one is for the Chief Erdogan, this one is for our homeland. And then, rather ironically an iPhone actually rings in the background of the video.

But the other side of the country is very worried that the Lira has plunged, that Turkey is becoming in the eyes of some in the West almost sort of a pariah state to some extent. And that Turkey’s long-cherished dreams of being part of the West really seem very, very far from reality...

Over 350 American newspapers have coordinated editorials this week condemning President Trump's attacks on the media… It is counter-productive, desperate and naive.

Throughout his candidacy and then presidency Donald Trump has castigated the vast majority of the media by bunching them all together with the exception of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News... in his brutal put-downs of established journalistic organs has overlooked all the differences between operators in the trade. To this journalists had the strong retort that lumping them all together was plain silly. There are so many differences between publications, from political slant to editorial tone and the voices of different writers.

But now these papers that have come together in one giant angry lump. This is a gift to Trump whose railing against the fake news media becomes easier when all his targets line-up holding hands. This coordinated action plays into Trump's narrative about being the victim of a malign groupthink.

And what are the chances that it will actually work? Try to picture a scene in the White House briefing room where Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the President's spokeswoman says, President Trump has read many of the editorials published by your colleagues. They prompted sober reflection. With the benefit of hindsight he now regrets tweeting a video of him wrestling CNN to the ground. I would like to reset his relationship with American news media...

For the whole time that I have been the BBC’s media editor, there has been a background noise about Trump's war with the media.

As I've said repeatedly Trump isn’t the enemy of the press, he is their potential savior. This is not a war, it's a marriage of convenience. Editorially, Donald Trump is the most riveting detail filled drama in the history of the modern West. People want to read about it.

And that's why commercially he has been a massive boon to US media. Subscriptions to quality titles like the New York Times and the Washington Post are soaring. Website traffic for all publishers including the likes of BuzzFeed, Vox and The Independent have benefited tremendously from Trump's activity. And ratings with the US TV news have also been hugely boosted by Trump. For the media, he is good business.

Maybe some journalists, and not just at Fox News, should be thanking him instead...

If you work at the Boston Globe, the paper coordinating this week's action, you are protected by the First Amendment, and for all that there may be physical discomfort at Trump rallies you are still basically able to do your job and live in peace.

That is more than can be said for reporters operating in Turkey or Russia today. Imagine if all the effort that these hundreds of newspapers had put into chronicling their own sense of besiegement had instead gone into saving their lives, or highlighting the struggles of those championing free expression in authoritarian regimes."
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