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The Media Resisted the Coup

It is not enough to cut transportation lines to stage a coup, the communication lines have to be controlled as well. A coup can be staged without tanks, artilleries, and planes but not without the media.

The Media Resisted the Coup

It is not enough to cut transportation lines to stage a coup, the communication lines have to be controlled as well. A coup can be staged without tanks, artilleries, and planes but not without the media.

The coup plotter officers occupying the radio stations or television studios cannot only be explained by their unfulfilled desire of becoming television anchors. Reading the coup manifesto, and communicating it to a wide audience is important, but the matter is not as simple and easy as this.

Psychological Operation

When there is a coup in a democratic society (comprising of democratic people) the media should have two choices: becoming the tool or the target of the coup plotters. You either do a procoup broadcast or you don’t do it at all.

As it should be, in countries such as Turkey, this template is not valid. Because, rather than meeting the people’s need to obtain information, the media reflects the desire of the marginal, closed, and militarist ideological structures to have a control in the government. Although, the mainstream of society and the media have come closer to each other in the past 15 years, this danger is still valid.

The aforementioned pro-regime, protective, disdainful, and modernizing attitude is open to all kinds of madness in order to establish its dream social order, including a military intervention. Even if it cannot go through with such plans, it is in favor of destruction.

 There Is Another Possibility

Accordingly, in countries such as Turkey there is another possibility, which is coup provocativeness. The media can assume a function of preparing society for the coups sometimes deliberately and sometimes without realizing it. It sets up the substructure. It tries to persuade its readers, and viewers that the country is facing horrible dangers, including civil war and division. It pumps feelings of terror. It constantly mentions polarization, and isolation. It tries to shake the trust towards the democratic institutions with fabricated news, and heavy and baseless criticisms. The purpose is to form the feeling of “Let those go and whoever comes can come” or “Somebody save us.” At such times, the media turns into a base of psychological operation. We have seen and lived through this many times. Most times, we didn’t even realize this sneakiness and cunningness.

The Shadow of Its Former Self

Let’s come to the media’s role during and after the coup. If you look at the newspapers after the 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997 military coups, you can see innumerable examples of these roles.

The first task of the media was to greet the putschists with enthusiasm, and tell the people of the legitimacy of the coup. Renowned advocates of democracy, incurable human rights activists turn into combat boot dust overnight. There is no trace of the dauntlessness and nimbleness they show towards the elected government. They instantly stand at attention. The color of their professional principles, and discourse of freedom fades, vampires emerge from beneath. A race to bury the overthrown government even deeper starts. The newspapers become the press bulletins of the putschists.

The purpose is to awaken the feeling of “Luckily they did it, they saved us.”

Moreover, awakening this feeling is rather profitable. Because another skill of the putschists is distributing money. Remember the media moguls who hit the jackpot, the banks that were siphoned off, and the lost money during the coups.



Blemished Records

When we examine the coup attempt of July 15 from these three perspectives we can say the following. During the preparation period, the wide consortium dreamed up by the putschists did not take shape. The suppression of the December 17-25 attempts and the effective fight against the Parallel State Structure by the government caused the putschists to lose their media organs to a vast extent, and they became disreputable in the eyes of society.

Of course, the coup provocateurs did not sit still. They tried to show the fight against terrorism as a war of the government against its own people, and spread the slander that Turkey helped the terrorist organizations in the Middle East. At the expense of being laughable at times, they spent all their energy fabricating news, and creating hatred for democratic institutions.

During these times, the putschists made a special effort to transform social differences into areas of conflict. Right! An intervention is necessary to ensure the unity and brotherhood.

Another element of the psychological operation was spreading the perception that the “parallel” was “a fictional threat,” and trying to caricaturize the terrorist organization claims. During this time hostility replaced opposition, and insults replaced criticism.

Although they didn’t support the putschists on the night of July 15, the record of some of our media is hard to be seen as immaculate concerning this issue.

Veteran Media

On the night of July 15, the course of the events changed completely. The Turkish media, excluding few unimportant ones, resisted all out against the occupants. In this period, the undifferentiated protection of the media organizations by the people is also an important development which spoiled the game.

The putschists couldn’t stop the broadcasts. They couldn’t hold the media organizations they occupied. TRT and CNN Türk were taken back from the terrorists by the people. The attacks against ATV, A Haber, and Sabah newspaper were repelled by the people. The broadcasts were shattered, and programs which enabled reversing the coup attempt were broadcasted. The prime minister and especially the president appeared live on these broadcasts, and informing and guiding the people were among the turning points of the night.

It is my opinion that the principles which are to be followed during news of terrorism should be applicable to the news of a coup attempt. The propaganda texts of the putschists shouldn’t ever be broadcasted, and the news shouldn’t be delivered in a way that causes fear and panic among people. When we look at it from this regard, our media did a good, though not excellent, job.




The Danger Is Yet to Pass

The coup failed, but we cannot say that the styles of journalism which serve the putschists have been completely eliminated. Unfortunately, after the coup attempt the indications of returning to the putschist habits started to be seen in certain parts of the media.

The masses that protected the country, honor, and democracy were labelled by some as violent gangs that lynch innocent people. The prudent and heroic endurance was portrayed by some as Mehmetçik (soldier) hostility.

There were people who described this bloody terrorist act, where hundreds died, thousands were wounded, where there was an assassination attempt on the president, and the parliament was bombed. Certain media organizations are trying to trivialize the betrayal of the putschists, and also tarnish the unity of the people against the coup.

Beyond all this, we are facing a serious problem of disinformation. The manipulative expressions that are published, claims based on nameless sources, and comments based on false information cause chaos which prevents the true coup plans from coming to light – a fact that serves the putschists the most. Therefore, from the perspective of the media, the danger has not passed yet.

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