Guardian’s resistance to fact-checking

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Guardian’s resistance to fact-checking

2017-06-21 09:16 BST
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Guardian claims words attributed to Turkey’s founding president on monument in Gallipoli might be effaced for good

British daily newspaper The Guardian

On 16 June 2017, an article titled “Turkish Islamist push may be to blame for removal of Ataturk inscription at Anzac Cove” was published in the Guardian. The article voiced the claim that the words attributed to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding president of the Republic of Turkey – which were temporarily removed from a monument in the Gallipoli district of the city of Canakkale as part of a restoration program – may not be inscribed again because of the Turkish government’s alleged Islamist intentions.

The article cited the conjecture of Australian and Turkish anonymous sources that “when the restoration is complete the sentiments on the Anzac Cove Ataturk memorial may be markedly different.”

But an official statement immediately announced that the monument will be neither destroyed nor altered, invalidating the conjecture communicated by the Guardian. The statement read: “There has been misunderstanding and rumours in some media outlets regarding [the restoration of] the Turkish monument at Ariburnu. The monument at Ariburnu is not being destroyed or altered. . . . and Ataturk’s words will not be lost.”

Taking an assumption as its vantage point, the Guardian’s article voiced many comments on the political situation in Turkey. According to some of these comments:

  • the refurbished memorial could reflect a growing Islamist interpretation by the Erdoğan administration

  • the motivations behind the restorations could be in part political and are likely to reflect Turkey’s greater emphasis on religion

  • the erasure of the purported Ataturk words reflected a ‘new theocratic interpretation’

  • there is an “increasingly strong Islamist view” in Turkey

  • ‘Because the Erdoğan government is in power, Islamists are now in the ascendant’

  • the secularist adulation, formerly the orthodoxy, is being challenged and supplanted by a new, theocratic interpretation

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the purpose of “making the memorial more Islamist in nature

  • a video released by the Turkish government “interpreted the conflict through a heavily Islamist perspective.

Although the assumption upon which the article was predicated was disproved by an official statement, the Guardian continued to keep the article intact and the only change it made to the article following the announcement of the official statement was to affix it to the end of the article.