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Indie News Site Newsbud Takes On NBC Over Turkey Coup Propaganda

Posted in Archive, Journalism, and MintPress News

Originally published at MintPress News.

NEW YORK — An independent news outlet is demanding accountability from the mainstream media over inaccurate reporting during last month’s attempted coup in Turkey.

At the time this article was being written on Wednesday afternoon, reporters from Newsbud, a crowdfunded outlet focused on media integrity, were en route to New York in hopes of directly confronting officials at NBC News over a report that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been denied asylum in Germany during the failed coup attempt.

Though widely reported in the media, Newsbud’s founder Sibel Edmonds reported that the rumor originated at NBC. Writing on July 21 on Boiling Frogs Post, the temporary home of Newsbud, she wrote:

The apparent origin of this report was NBC News. A tweet has also been cited in many articles from MSNBC Segment Producer, Kyle Griffin. Griffin’s tweet stated, “senior US military source tells NBC News that Erdogan, refused landing rights in Istanbul, is reported to be seeking asylum in Germany.”

Accusing NBC of willingly disseminating government propaganda, she added:

We at Newsbud believe it is highly irresponsible and harmful to present and circulate a false report. Further, the public has the right to know how its mainstream news outlets such as NBC are being directly used by senior government Psyop actors to concoct and disseminate strategic false information.

Edmonds first reached public notoriety in 2008 as a Turkish language translator for the FBI who blew the whistle on security breaches and other improper agency behavior toward Turkish citizens. Since then, she’s gained a reputation for accurately reporting on the region, including successfully predicting a previous coup attempt in December.

Amarni Sharmin Akhtar, an international media analyst writing for MyMPN, MintPress News’ reader submission blog, cited the rumor as one of several major mistakes made by Western media during the rush to report on the most recent coup attempt.

“The Daily Beast reported that Erdogan was denied asylum in Germany when in fact he was holidaying in Marmaris and flew into Istanbul later that evening to address the crowd on TV,” Akhtar noted on Monday.

“A Google search for ‘Erdogan asylum Germany’ produces over 900,000 hits, showing that the story spread all over the online (and presumably on-air) media world within hours,” reported James Corbett, an independent media analyst and publisher of The Corbett Report, on Wednesday. “Turkish sources confirm that the story was also picked up and heavily circulated within Turkey on social media platforms by the coup faction itself.”

A January 3, 2013 photograph of the NBC News headquarters in New York City. (Flickr / Kiah Ankoor)
A January 3, 2013 photograph of the NBC News headquarters in New York City. (Flickr / Kiah Ankoor)

On July 21, Edmonds penned a letter asking MSNBC and NBC News to answer for the error. It reads, in part:

Newsbud is requesting that NBC and MSNBC issue a public retraction of and an official explanation for this false report and identify its Senior US Military Source.

She also issued a letter requesting a comment from the Turkish Embassy in Washington.

With both letters and a concurrent #ConfrontNBC campaign on social media receiving no official response from NBC, Edmonds and company are following through with their plans to hold a rally at NBC headquarters in New York City at noon on Thursday.

Journalism experts have become increasingly alarmed over the mainstream media’s reliance on anonymous sources in recent years.

“This false god – relying on anonymous sources to be first with a story – has always been a problem for journalism,” John Christie, editor in chief of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, said in a 2014 lecture to the University of New Hampshire.

Christie argued that anonymous sources “often get it wrong because why make sure you have it right when you will not be held accountable for what you say.”

“And even if it is accurate,” he continued, “readers cannot judge the value of the material for themselves if they don’t know the source. Many sources hide behind anonymity to take cheap shots without anyone knowing they have an axe to grind or a dog in the fight.”

Christie noted that journalists “ask to be trusted — and then over and over again give readers reasons to do the opposite.”

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