On the other hand, in countries where democratic conventions are in force, media-power relations are maintained by ensuring “harmony” with the two major ministries -- foreign and trade. Media bosses, who enjoy extensive rights to be informed and press freedoms, take pains not to come into conflict with these ministries.
To some extent, this is understandable as it is essential in these countries that foreign affairs be as agile as possible within the international security system. If the national media fail to respect the country’s general foreign policy strategies, this means they are not respecting the “national interests.” Their relations with the trade ministries are largely guided by their income from advertising. The media outlets that do not pay attention to the country’s foreign policy can be punished by the trade ministry -- via several mechanisms devised by the established system. These penalties are more a deterrent than most people believe.
It is naive to assume that in the West media bosses do not try to influence politics. To some extent this is something acceptable. However, they do not attempt to shape the course of politics. At least the media looks as if they are not provided with such a domain or capabilities. Other than this, they tend to observe legal and ethical boundaries. Individual rights and respect for privacy are important principles and those who violate them are not tolerated. Those who deliberately breach these principles cannot find solace either from democratic mechanisms or from the public.
Yes, but are these rights really protected? For instance, does the tabloid press respect these rules? Or can we say that those who file the private lives of politicians, bureaucrats and ruling elites for blackmailing are respecting this rule? Today, these rules are violated not in the media but on the Internet and social media. It must be noted that a video cassette may dethrone a party chairman.
In Turkey, employing the media has been a powder keg until very recently. Anyone who has access to microphones or cameras could breach the lives of other people. Arrogant and aggressive language came to be the normal style of the media.
In no other country can we find examples of the media playing a direct and active role in politics. During the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997, we saw the most extreme examples of this. Thus, the media went beyond merely “influencing politics” and attempted to direct politics. They utterly disregarded rights, freedoms and Parliament’s will.
The purpose of big corporations that fund the media is to ensure that political, economic and social policies are shaped according to their whims and interests. Therefore, Turkish media networks tend to resort to “non-political” methods in their relations with the political power. These methods include exerting pressure on the democratically elected Parliament, trying to manipulate the government and, thus, paving the way for coups and military interventions. In the past, media bosses confessed this openly and smugly. Erol Simavi, the erstwhile mogul of the Turkish media sector, is on record as having said: “In Turkey, it is falsely assumed that the military is the fourth power. But the real fourth power is the media. Indeed, it is the media that preps soldiers for intervention. Soldiers overthrow the government and we sit comfortably in our chairs.” Many years have passed since this statement by Simavi, and today alternative media that oppose coups have emerged in Turkey. But the coup-loving media are still at work.