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US ambassador to Ankara urges Turkish media to rely more facts and evidence

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In an interview with a Turkish news station on Thursday, the US ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, expressed shock over the swift changes of opinion among Turkish columnists, urging the media to rely more on facts and evidence as he denied allegations that the US supports terrorist activities in Turkey.

Responding to a question on widely circulated allegations in the pro-government media that the CIA is behind terrorists in Turkey, including the gunning down of the Russian ambassador to Ankara on Monday, Bass said he finds it “shocking” that the same columnists who were writing how evil the Russian government was and how it was aiming to destroy Turkey only six months ago are now arguing that the US would like to destroy relations between Russia and Turkey.

“What I would like to see in the Turkish media, frankly, is a bit more reliance on facts and evidence, and a little less reliance on opinion,” Bass said on NTV. The US ambassador further added to his criticism of the media in Turkey, saying that when opinion is masked as news, it causes a real problem.

The US ambassador also made statements about the requested extradition of Muslim Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt, among other things, including the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

In response to NTV’s question suggesting that the extradition process has been slowed down due to the US presidential election, Bass denied it, saying it would not be an accurate description of the process.

“ … in our judicial system, the less we say about a case, the more seriously we are taking it,” he said. Further underlining the difference between Turkey and the United States, Bass added that “here in Turkey … people talk about [cases] publicly without having an impact on the actual judicial case itself.”

There has been a surge in anti-Americanism in Turkey as the government and the president of Turkey frequently accuse the US of plotting against Turkey, often in collaboration with the Gülen movement.

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