Thanks to my old neighbour and friend Malcolm Evans for allowing me to publish this letter. He’s sent it to several newspapers in New Zealand, but I’m not expecting to see it published. Maybe I’ll be surprised, who knows?
“Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ve just been trawling media stories for too long. But then again, maybe – just maybe – maybe we’re being fed as big a line of BS in our newspapers as ever we claim is routinely served up to the other lot.
It all came to a head these past days in the aftermath of the attempted military coup in Turkey – did you notice? Clearly a serious attempt to overthrow an elected government had taken place. And just as clearly the Turkish people, including those who oppose that elected government, took to the streets and stopped it!
But then, instead of stories praising Turkey for defending democracy, which we claim to hold so dear, our newspapers ran sneering suggestions that the coup was engineered by the Turkish government to cement its power. And these were followed by warnings that Turkey had better not use the coup as an excuse to go on a “witch hunt” for other than those responsible.
And all these stories seemed to materialise simultaneously and each seemed to be singing from the same song sheet! And yes, dare I say it, they carried a distinct whiff of stifled disappointment that the coup in Turkey had failed!
Turkey is a major power, geographically and politically important and, as a member of Nato, is surely deserving of the same respect we accord other members of that alliance. If a similar coup attempt had taken place in another Nato country I doubt it would have been given the treatment our newspapers gave Turkey got last week.
For instance, maybe I missed it, but I didn’t read of any warning being given to either France or Germany, both of whom have declared states of emergency, not to use their terror situations to impose harsh measures on anyone. (And don’t get me started on the blind eye we turn to the appalling treatment of minorities in America). So why the difference?
But then of course I’m being naïve aren’t I. There’s something else going on here isn’t there. Turkey’s not playing the game some would have it played, is it? And that’s what’s behind the jaundiced eye we’re told we must see Turkey through. Heaven forbid that we should consider them as decent, well educated, nice people – they’re Muslims for God’s sake!
I’m a newspaper man. I’ve worked in and around them, in one capacity or another, for over fifty years. Newspapers are a vital element of our democracy – “The Fifth Estate” said Edmund Burke – and if they are to remain true to that principle it’s vital that newspapers preserve their objectivity and resist attempts to convert them into a conduit for someone else’s agenda.
Then again maybe that’s just me.”