Akdoğan wrote that in the photo Erdoğan is holding hands with all of the municipal candidates in the upcoming elections in March, including Şahin, and that Bugün chose to cut the others out of the picture. “This is openly shooting below the belt, has no merit and is rotten,” Akdoğan wrote, adding that such disrespectful behavior should not be part of any struggle.
Although Akdoğan directed attention to the photo four days after it was published, a group of AK Party supporters and journalists then quickly joined Akdoğan in criticizing Bugün, particularly in social media.
In response to the social media campaign against it, the Bugün daily issued a statement on Wednesday stating that İpek Media Group has never acted in any way contrary to media ethics. Calling it immoral to add a different connotation to the photo of Şahin and Erdoğan during the announcement of mayoral candidates in Ankara, the statement said that arguing that Bugün used the photo with a different purpose reflects a “sick mindset.”
Bugün also noted that the photo that was published in their paper was provided by the state’s official news source, the Anadolu news agency. “Although the photo was used in complete innocence, we apologize if the page layout led to any hard feelings,” the statement read.
In addition, İpek Media Group’s statement addressed the government and said, “Not everyone who does not applaud you is your opponent, and not everyone who criticizes is your enemy.”
The daily said that sometimes the facts are just as they appear and that no other motivation should be sought or attributed, referring to the use of a cropped photo of the prime minister and the minister.
While the daily said that it is a constitutional duty of the media to inform the people, the debate led to further discussions in social media about the degree of government’s involvement in the media.