Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak published a partially faked interview with linguist Noam Chomsky August 27, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While Chomsky did conduct an e-mail interview with the newspaper in mid-August, Yeni Safak has admitted to faking three quotes that ran in the published interview. News outlets including the Wall Street Journal and English-language Turkish daily news site Hurriyet Daily News suggest that more comments were faked because the quotes were flat out weird English.
In an e-mail interview with the Wall Street Journal , Chomsky said the Yeni Safak interview featured “statements I could not possibly have made.”
Hurriyet Daily News reported that Yeni Safak “admitted that three sentences…were fabricated” but that was it. The three quotes that Yeni Safak confessed were phony are:
- “We saw a mass resistance, made up of Morsi supporters, which moved with a longing of democracy,”
- “The tragedy of Asma, the massacred daughter of senior Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohammad al-Beltagy, cannot be forgotten”
- “Lebanon and Tunisia are also at the cannon’s end.”
The Wall Street Journal called other parts of the interview “nonsensical,” suggesting that they were faked as well because the English version of the quotes were “unintelligible English” but when translated to Turkish, the interview “flows perfectly.” As an example of another questionable comment attributed to Chomsky, the Journal listed:
“This complexity in the Middle East, do you think the Western states flapping because of this chaos? Contrary to what happens when everything that milk port, enters the work order, then begins to bustle in the West. I’ve seen the plans works.”
According to Hurriyet Daily News, “milk port” is “the exact translation of a similar Turkish idiom that means ‘calm and quiet.'”
Chomsky published on his website “the full interview” from his August 13 e-mail with Yeni Safak, noting that he “did not answer any additional questions.” The “milk port” comment is not in the e-mail Chomsky published on his website.
To explain discrepancies between Chomsky’s published e-mail interview and the Yeni Safak story, the newspaper claimed that Chomsky did an additional email interview.
On September 1, Yeni Safak published a “correction and apology” for the story and disclosed that it unpublished the interview. While the Google Translate of the correction is far from perfect, it indicates that Yeni Safak admitted to “errors…in some parts” of the story. (“Errors” apparently meaning “simply made up fraudulent quotes”).
Chomsky told iMediaEthics by email that he didn’t have a copy of the now-unpublished Yeni Safak article. We also asked for more information regarding how many quotes were faked, but he said “I didn’t follow the details, frankly.”
iMediaEthics has written to Yeni Safak’s editor-in-chief Ibrahim Karagul and news director Fatma Demircioglu for answers and will update with any response.
Earlier this year, Turkish newspaper Takvim published a phony interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, as iMediaEthics wrote at the time.