September 5, 2015

Doğan Media Group making a big mistake

Ali Yurttagül

The Doğan Media Group today appears to be making the same mistake the Zaman Media Group made when massive fines were levied against Doğan.

The Doğan group doesn't seem to realize that the traps being laid for media organizations like the İpek Media Group aim to silence the media. Instead, the Doğan group chooses to remain silent, thinking, “None of this will affect me.”

Some even seem to be taking pleasure in the events at hand. Take, for example, these lines written recently by journalist Ezgi Başaran and published by the Radikal news outlet on Sept. 2: “Just as a few years ago Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were tried in court for being members of an illegal organization, we now see Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı and Samanyolu TV CEO Hidayet Karaca -- who had published embarrassing reports about both Şık and Şener -- being treated with the same ‘compassion' by the state.”

Başaran is convinced that both the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases were “traps.” Whether in fact they were traps or actual cases of coup preparation, we will never learn; the files are no longer in the courts, but instead on the desks of historians, and it seems that it is now historians who will be able to reveal whether, if these were traps, the source was the Gülen group, or some other source just using the Gülen group. No matter, though; Başaran is spot-on when it comes to one topic in particular: that my newspaper, Zaman, did not take the right stance when it came to the enormous taxes levied against the Doğan Media Group. Today, though, it does.

The appearance of both Şık and Şener's names in European Parliament reports, or the sentences condemning the fines levied on the Doğan group, were all the result of the effort of the Greens. Journalists Zeynel Lule and the now-departed M. Ali Birand knew this well. The recent raid on the İpek Media Group, part of Koza İpek Holding, was not targeting any particular “parallel structure” within the state. Like the taxes once extracted from the Doğan group, all this raid aimed to accomplish was the silencing of the media.

But if the Doğan group really doesn't perceive the danger in the mentality of “Long live the snake that doesn't bite me,” and doesn't see that in this blindness it will end up carving its own gravestone, the situation is truly dire.

Here's what Cem Küçük had to say about this, a remark published in the Star newspaper, also on Sept. 2: “I would like to congratulate Habertürk, NTV and CNN Türk for their broadcasts and publications that, up until now, have not shown support for ‘FETÖ [Fethullah Gülen].' They did as they should. After all, one needs to be fair. Up until now, these three channels have taken the side of Turkey, and the side of the law. Hopefully, their stances on this will not change…” This is a journalist known for his close ties to the Doğan group. But, were those behind the raid on the İpek Media Group not just recently a serious threat to the Doğan group?

There has always been a “parallel” problem in our country. Did we not, until just a few years ago, live with a state structure that included two tiers of power, based on the term “security,” and resulting in figures like the secretary-general of the National Security Council (MGK) having control that extended to deciding the right of labor syndicates to go on strike? This structure has not changed.

Do we not see the same power and authority once wielded by that secretary-general -- power that even the high courts weren't able to supervise or control -- being wielded today by the man in the palace? Do we not now witness how futile interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's attempts to remain involved in vital issues like the “peace process” are? Have we not all realized just how little control Davutoğlu has over the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) undersecretary? Was the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate not completely humiliated by the whole Mercedes incident?

The real truth is, if today there is any “parallel” power alive and kicking in Turkey, it lives in the presidential palace in Ankara. It is now “consultants,” people completely unfit to even understand and properly interpret global politics, who run this country. Did voters not try to put an end to this misery on June 7, during the general election? Is the presidential palace not pushing people back into elections, determined to maintain this misery?

In any case, the Doğan group's stance today is not actually all that interesting. When it was interesting was in the wake of Gezi, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to carry the polarization between the pious and the secular of this country further and further to the edge.

Then, this strategy fell apart, and the Gülen group and some other conservative groups decided not to support the despotism and wastefulness of the one-man regime on the rise. Suddenly, the political fault lines weren't running the way the palace wanted them to; rather, the country was suddenly divided along lines that separated those who supported a state of law, and those satisfied with the despotism.

In the meantime, the palace might think that if it can quiet down media groups that influence some conservative voters, it might be able to reconstruct those bountiful pious-versus-secular fault lines, and that this will lead to victory. As it is, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has already lost hope in who is reached and influenced by the Doğan Media Group.

They now think that if they can bring down organizations like the İpek Media Group or anything belonging to the Gülen group, they can rebuilt their pious and secular axes. If they succeed in doing this, the Doğan group might well become “interesting” to watch again. Today, the government doesn't find them “interesting” at all, so it does not try to touch them. You do realize this is the only thing protecting them, right?

Published on Today's Zaman, 5 September 2015, Saturday