İsmail Cem was thirty-three in 1974, youthful and handsome, educated at the best schools in Turkey and Europe, president of the Istanbul Journalists Union and a famous columnist in his own right. He was also the author of several books on Turkish politics with a pronounced socialist-bent. He was, in short, an ideal candidate to head the Television and Radio Institution of Turkey (TRT) when the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) came to power, and under his leadership TRT did indeed embark on some of its most important and artistic ventures. Yet his fifteen months in office were also marked by bitter disputes, accusations and legislative maneuvering that reflected an increasingly divided society where opposing factions saw themselves as representing the popular will and their opponents as having no legitimacy at all.
III. The “Sultan…
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