Is it state-sponsored propaganda yet?
I was reading up on the recent offensive Turkish incursion into Iraq in the New York Times (here) and at first I didn’t notice too much out of the ordinary (other than, of course, that the Turkish government is portrayed as angels having done nothing themselves). But, as an interesting exercise, then I decided to look at the sourcing that the putatively ‘liberal’ New York Time newspaper — the publication ‘of record’ — used to file this story. Needless to say, if you are interested in looking, you’ll find that, if this is the situation in the supposedly ‘best’ publication in the U.S., the situation is much the same, if not worse, in most other ‘lesser’ publications.
What’s the difference between this and the darkest days of the state-sponsored propaganda in Germany or the USSR? The difference is that in Germany and the USSR they actually knew they were being fed a purely government-endorsed viewpoint.
Here is a copy of the article as it appears today with the sources highlighted. Notice that the only time the socialist PKK party is supposedly cited is when the Times emphasizes that there is no proof of the “rebel’s” claim to have captured Turkish soldiers.
12 Turkish Soldiers Killed in Rebel Attack
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: October 21, 2007
ISTANBUL, Oct. 21 — At least 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by Kurdish militants shortly after midnight on Sunday, in an audacious attack that sharply increased the pressure on Turkey’s government to send troops into northern Iraq.
A group of Kurdish fighters moved into Turkey from northern Iraq, the Turkish military said, and attacked Turkish soldiers based near the town of Hakkari, about 25 miles from the border, in three different locations, killing 12 and injuring another 16. Turkish soldiers then struck back, firing from helicopters and from the ground, killing at least 23 militants, according to the military, which provided its account in a statement.
In a statement on a Kurdish website, the militants said they captured eight Turkish soldiers, but the claim could not be substantiated.
The attack came just four days after Turkey’s parliament voted to give the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan full authority to send troops into northern Iraq to strike at Kurdish militants who hide there.
At the time, Turkish officials emphasized that they would not immediately apply the authority, and security experts said the resolution would be used mainly as political leverage to press the United States and its Iraqi Kurdish allies to act against the Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by its initials, the P.K.K.
But Sunday’s attack was one of the worst in recent memory, and the government, which has been skeptical of an offensive in the past, will be under intense pressure to act.
“With this incident, the arrow left the bow, and no room is left for the government to hesitate, postpone or fail to launch a cross border operation,” said Armagan Kuloglu, a retired Turkish major general, in a telephone interview. “If the government resists ordering a military operation, such a step would endanger its existence and credibility.”
In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, Mr. Erdogan called an emergency security meeting among Turkey’s top political and military officials for 8 p.m.
“Our anger is great,” Mr. Erdogan [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said on national television in Istanbul, where he was casting his vote in a national referendum.
In a veiled reference to the United States, he [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said: “I especially want you to know that we do not have any thoughts as to what one side or another would have to say about this.”
President Jalal Talabani of Iraq, speaking at a news conference on Sunday with another of Iraq’s senior Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani, urged the militants to end their attacks on Turkey, The Associated Press reported.
“But if they insist on the continuation of fighting, they should leave Kurdistan, Iraq, and not create problems here,” Mr. Talabani [U.S.-supported President of Iraq] said, according to the A.P.
“We are not going to be caught up in the P.K.K. and Turkish war,” said Mr. Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, Reuters reported, “but if the Kurdistan region is targeted, then we are going to defend our citizens.”
Interestingly, the L.A. Times has a completely different tactic than the N.Y. Times in sourcing this story. Namely, the L.A. Times decides that it’s just easier if they don’t cite anybody as a source for anything they are writing about until over halfway through the article. (Although, in the second half of their article, the L.A. Times does follow the N.Y. Times lead of citing only pro-U.S. Iraqi sources such as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi MP and government ally Abdul Kareem Enizi. Although they do give a one-sentence line to Suleiman Barwari, a 51-year-old civilian resident of Zakho who’s quotation merely says “The regional government should not let the two sides finish their internal fights on our lands”). [source]