The Hill op-ed on Turkey’s role in pandemic akin to propaganda - analyst

A newly published op-ed by U.S.-based The Hill, which praises Turkey's anti-coronavirus efforts, lacks credibility and resembles propaganda, Nicholas Danforth, a senior visiting fellow at the U.S.-German Marshall Fund, said.

The article by Sasha Toperich, senior vice president of U.S.-based Transatlantic Leadership Network, which says Turkey had proven itself as a key actor of anti-virus efforts worldwide as it domestically took all necessary measures to halt the spread of the outbreak, carries an obvious pro-Turkish government tone, Danforth said on Twitter.

"Turkey supplied masks and test kits to Balkan countries, Italy and Spain, answering the request-for-assistance call made through the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre," Toperich wrote in the article.

Toperich is known for his support for the Government of National Accord, U.N. recognised Libyan government allied to Turkey, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi who is an archenemy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to Danforth.

"Anyways, a tip of the hat to a guy who can get paid to write Hill op-eds for both Sisi and the Libyan GNA," he said, adding that the author's work has previously been distributed by a registered Turkish government lobbyist.

This is not the first time The Hill is questioned for its publishing policy. The news outlet on the election day in November of 2016, published an opinion piece by then the U.S. President Donald Trump election campaign adviser Michael Flynn without any note describing Flynn’s extensive links with the Turkish lobbyists. 

Flynn’s op-ed, which was written as an objective article by a former U.S. official without any links to the Turkish government stated that Turkey was vital to U.S. interests. However, months later, The Hill added a note at the end of the article saying that Flynn had registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent whose work may have aided the Turkish government.

"This reads like a paid propaganda piece," said Danforth.

He also said the coverage of the piece by the pro-government Turkish media suggested a coordinated PR campaign by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the language of the article resonates pro-government discourse.

The Turkish government was repeatedly criticised for the lack of protective equipment for healthcare workers during one of the world's fastest-growing outbreaks of COVID-19. 

And, the government has evaded imposing a full nationwide lockdown during the pandemic, rather started imposing two-day curfews during weekends.