Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Tribune and the Gulen Movement

You may have noticed the Tribune ran the Reuters piece on Gulen. Actually, it's the Reuters piece on the BBC piece on Gulen.  I can't remember the term for when a paper runs a story about another paper's story. Or, in this case, a paper running a wire service article about another news outlet's exclusive. Is that what a "clip job" is?

Anyway, I know that reading is so last century, but I dare you to read both pieces and then argue that the Reuters piece preserves the BBC's skeptical tone. It doesn't,trust me.  Seriously, read both pieces---- this would be a fun Common Core "close reading" game. Check out some of these tone differences...

"And yet... even during the interview, the cleric proved surprisingly elusive."

"The interview did not make his intentions altogether clear."

"These quotations are culled and distilled from what others tell me is his peculiarly baroque language. One of his disciples explained that 15% of his speech is unlike anything normally heard in Turkish: Shakespearian rather than modern English, he said."

"At one point, in the middle of his answer, he also comes up with the memorable circumlocution: 'I haven't even decided to say anything to that effect.'

"Why, I asked several of his advisers-followers-participants, had Mr Gulen agreed to this interview? "To set the record straight," they answered. Straight, though, may not mean clear."
"More often, as he waited for one of his long answers to be translated, he would close his eyes, and tilt his soft, wide face back in his armchair, with a look not of repose but of pain."
"Gulen, who was eloquent throughout the interview..."
There's a lot more. The BBC piece, for example,  definitely leaves room for the reader to interpret as theatrics the little medical interludes during the interview, but that was evidently lost on the Reuters man. 
It's all very weird. 
But it doesn't surprise me that the Trib ran the Reuters piece. There isn't a media outlet in the country more comprehensively worked on by the Movement than the Trib, so the slant in the Reuters piece seems right in line. 
Here's Trib CEO Tony Hunter accepting on of those Niagara Foundation awards on behalf of the Trib in 2009 (:43 mark). The Movement gives awards out like Jujubes; it's how they cultivate influence, which may indeed be the ultimate goal. If I were trying to cultivate a dishonest editorial board, I'd aim for the Trib.
Lots of familiar faces in that 2009 ceremony. Madigan's in there, so you know the whole thing is related to influence and money the nexus of those two things with legislation. The Trib ran a little article about their award shortly after. I wonder if they would accept this award today, given that it's more publicly known that the guy handing them out is definitely in a political power struggle at home and not a teddy bear.  Who am I kidding? Of course they would! I love how former AG Neil Hartigan got a Lifetime Achievement award from these guys, as well. It's the Gulen Globes.

In an odd note, you see the Turkish Consul in the above video (2:10 ). His name is Kenan Ipek, he's not the Consul any more; he's been re-assigned back home; my Turkish is pretty rudimentary but it looks like he's involved in kiboshing some the wave of prosecutions that appear to be related to Gulenist prosecutors.  There's twenty layers of intrigue to every little thing in Turkish politics, but it appears that at least one guy at Tony Hunter's award ceremony is now working against the Gulenists. Can someone translate that article for me before the man changes jobs again?

More recently, Trib editor Gerould Kern accepted an invitation to speak a Niagara Foundation Luncheon in February 2012. He gave an excruciating talk; I've tried to find a nugget in there worth quoting but there isn't one until around the 27:50 minute mark

The News Revolution: Implications for Journalism and Democracy .

 When Kern mentions that some people warned him against speaking at the forum because of "some anti-free  press trends in Turkey," he's referring to activities the Gulen Movement is implicated in, not just the actual Turkish Government, although he doesn't appear to know that. On the one hand you have a government, and on the other you have sort of a parallel force, and they've been allies for quite some time.  Take for example the case of Ahmed Sik, who was writing about the imam when he was arrested in 2011 along with six other journalists. You can see the man here (at 2:05); he's awaiting trial. Sik was writing a book about Gulen called The Imam's Army (which has been confiscated, I believe) when he got nicked. There's a great moment when Sik shouts out "Whoever who touches it (the Gulen Movement) gets burned!"  The New Yorker did an excellent piece about the situation here (Sik comes in late into the article--- just do a find for his name and you'll get to it.)

Evidently Turkey is the worst place in the word for journalists, and it's clear to me from even cursory research that our charter-school preacher-mogul is behind at least some of it. It isn't clear to me how Mr. Kern explains his decision to disregard the advice to appear at the luncheon. From what I can tell, he says something like I know you must be good folks because you gave our CEO an award a couple years ago. Did I paraphrase incorrectly? He'll probably get a Gulen award for logic.

One of the other writers arrested with Sik was Nedem Sener; the details of his prosecution give you an idea for how trumped-up these mass prosecutions are. Sener was writing about the Movement and its seemingly now destroyed alliance with the Turkish ruling party. To his credit, Mr. Kern does mention the Sener and Sik arrests, but again, there's no indication that he's aware of the Gulen connection to these horrendous arrests. Or maybe he knows and is just being polite. Who knows?

In short, the Tribune's editor would do well to look into those email warnings a bit more. Watch the Turkish gentleman at the end trying to distance Niagara from whatever implications Kern was making. I don't think they have to worry.

They've got their hooks into the man, though; he later dutifully made an appearance at CMSA and went through the propaganda video, which almost never varies. Same questions, very similar answers. Like the Madigan children, he knows just what to say about CMSA.

They're engaged. I get it.

 I'm still looking through the records, but so far there's no evidence that Mr. Kern or anyone from the Trib has clouted his own children into CMSA or any other charter school anywhere. Or even applied for one. I might have that wrong, and I'd love to know about it.

The Trib then  argued in March of last year for the expansion of Concept.  The editorial is sort of a catalogue of the little charter school bromides you always hear: the college acceptance rates, the waiting lists, etc. These things have been debunked to death. If you walked around Concept, or UNO, or really any of the chains, you'd see the same thing: mostly young teachers (who will be gone in about 3 years) doing what they can in classes that look like other classes you've seen. Innovation? Maybe in marketing. It's not something you'd ever confuse with Payton or Northside College Prep, or Lakeview, or Lincoln Park,  or any of the suburban high schools. It is in short, it's someone's idea of what poor people should be happy to get and be quiet about.

In September of 2014, Bruce Dold himself, from the Trib's editorial board, appeared at Niagara and gave a little talk. You can't swing a dead cat at the Niagara Foundation without hitting a Tribune guy. I haven't seen Dold up at CMSA yet, but the day is young. He talked at length about Illinois corruption, as did Kern. Pensions, corruption. He's Dr. Gloom and Doom--- the video just ends, weirdly-- not sure what that's all about but thank God it does because I was entertaining thoughts of self harm near the end.

Bruce Dold from Niagara Foundation on Vimeo.

See what I mean? Imagine that guy at a holiday party. 

So.... that's that. The Movement has been cultivating the people at the Trib. They do share values, I'll give them that much, and it appears that the Trib sees what it wants to see, and I wouldn't be surprised if another marquee Trib person gets an award at the next Niagara event.

And I defy anyone to point out another situation in the US where such a mysterious network of individuals connected to the protagonist of a hot foreign drama is basically running a school district without anyone knowing what's what. 

1 comment:

  1. Engaged is a modern buzzword that pure B.S. Why does the media and politicians always have to use buzzwords?