While Istanbul erupted, CNN Turkey aired a show about... penguins

Since this happened on the other side of the world it didn’t get nearly as much attention as it would have at home. Back in 2013, when a new round of protests broke about across Turkey in response to the policies of their government, including then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, CNN Turk (the local affiliate) chose to cover the story from a slightly different angle. They put on a documentary about Penguins. (Daily Caller)

Nothing exemplifies CNN Turk’s allegiance to Turkey’s ruling party as much as penguins.

As tens of thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Istanbul in late-May 2013 for the Gezi Park protests, the CNN affiliate was airing a documentary about the flightless birds.

More than 8,000 protesters were reportedly injured and at least three people were killed during the protests, which began as a demonstration against the destruction of Gezi Park. The protests and subsequent government response was a watershed moment for Turkish society. The demonstrations revealed Turks’ widespread angst, the government’s heavy-handed response to dissent, and the mainstream media’s willingness to appease the regime by ignoring the turmoil.

Keep in mind that this took place roughly four years ago, well before the wheels truly began coming off of any semblance of democracy in Turkey. Since then, particularly after last summer’s failed coup, the media inside of Turkey has been in crisis mode. The American version of CNN has actually done a good job of covering this unfolding disaster, noting that Turkey is currently holding more journalists in custody than any other nation and just sent a few more to prison.

While the criticism of CNN Turk is valid from a purist’s point of view, we really can’t ignore the fact that they’re facing a nearly impossible task. Erdogan routinely locks up anyone who dares to criticize him with only the slightest provocation. Trials for those being tossed into the dungeon are frequently delayed for years and appear to be little more than state-sanctioned kangaroo courts when they finally get around to give the accused a hearing. While it sounds noble to criticize those media outlets for only airing pro-Erdogan commentary and coverage (or ignoring negative stories entirely), we should stop and ask ourselves if we’d be willing to disappear into a Turkish prison for years on end in the name of journalistic integrity.

Of course, from the relative safety of a position in the United States, it remains all too easy to take the occasional jab at them over it. And on that note, we’ve just received word of a new Democrat being accused of sexual harassment by a female staffer. We take you live to CNN’s coverage of this breaking story.