CNN’s stand-alone Turkish network CNN Turk, which has long been criticized as a tool of Turkey’s increasingly anti-American leadership, is directly contradicting the narrative American CNN viewers are being offered.
CNN personalities have vilified President Trump for “betraying” the Kurds and creating a “real sense of confusion and betrayal” since Sunday’s announcement that the U.S. would pull troops from northeast Syria. Many analysts and politicians across have deemed that decision a blow to the U.S.-backed Kurds.
But CNN Turk paints a different picture for its audience.
“In America, CNN tells you what people in Washington want to hear,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Thursday. “CNN Turk knows its audience, so they’ve taken an entirely different line. They describe Turkey’s military operation in Syria as ‘a Peace Spring operation.’”
Carlson noted that CNN Turk regularly describes Kurdish militant groups as "terrorists."
CNN Turk's homepage, at the time of publication, featured a banner across the top with a link to on-air coverage. It was accompanied by the headline "3 days in the Peace Spring Operation."
Two articles also appeared to refer to the local Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as "terrorists".
The Turkish network made headlines last year after a reported $890 million deal shifted control of it and other key media outlets from the Dogan group, which paid CNN a license to independently operate the news network, to a conglomerate led by Erdogan Demiroren, an even stronger supporter of Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose repressive policies have shuttered or disrupted dozens of media operations in recent years.
At the time of the sale, Fox News asked one of CNN’s highest-ranking executives about whether it would reconsider licensing its name to the Turkish network.
“We will be meeting with the new owners in due course to discuss the implications of the sale. If, following those conversations, we have any reason whatsoever to believe the journalistic integrity of the channel could be compromised by the new owners, we will revoke the license,” Allison Gollust, CNN’s worldwide executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in March 2018.
Gollust noted that CNN Turk operates as “a wholly independent channel,” and editorial decisions were not being made by CNN's stateside executives.
Demiroren, the namesake of the ownership group, is strongly pro-Erdogan, and reportedly once called the Turkish president his “boss.” He was even caught apologizing to Erdogan for a negative newspaper article, according to The New York Times. “Demiroren was heard weeping, promising Mr. Erdogan that he would find the source,” The Times reported.
Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight investigative producer Alex Pfeiffer contributed to this report.