Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Commentary by Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan   
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems


Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan has been the rare, tireless voice in the United States, putting up his dukes in the sea of Turcophobes for many years. Here is a commentary that appeared in The Turkish Times. 

This page is a collection of several editorials by Professor Ozan, exposing a pattern of anti-Turkish prejudice by a major American television network, the National Broadcasting Company, or "NBC." The latter pieces appeared on the Internet forum, "The Turkish Forum."


“Hateline NBC”

Part Of A Bigoted TV Network?


In August 1996 at the U.S. Boxing Association’s 50th ceremony in Dublin, Ireland the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch gave the following answer to a question concerning the Summer Olympics for the year 2004,and the Turkish bid for its being held in Istanbul, “Istanbul’s chances are very good, given its experience in applying for the 2000 Olympics, good organization and extensive development of sport facilities.” He added that an important factor was the Turkish people’s strong desire to host the Olympics.” That very night a sports commentator, whose name I have long forgotten, commented on the NBC Daily News’ Sports segment and derided rudely the statement of Mr. Samaranch, adding that Athens, Greece as a civilized city had a better chance to win than Istanbul any day.

However, this type of unfair treatment isn’t new to the Turkish-American audiences. Younger viewers may have witnessed recently the latest such affront from the National Broadcasting Company. The injurious program occurred on Friday March 31, 2000. The highly objectionable, totally unfair, and mostly fabricated yarn was broadcast on the Dateline NBC program with the title “THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY; A WOMAN FIGHTS TO SAVE HER FIANCE AFTER HE IS WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED IN TURKEY. It was replete with revulsion, malice, and venom toward the venerable nation of Turks. Many who watched it were truly hurt by this insensitive action of NBC. Some called it an “outrage,” others protested online, the offensive content of the spectacle. One person’s words are repeated here in paraphrased form. The gentleman stated clearly that, “the show had reinforced in the minds of viewers of the program, the stereotypical negative images by skillfully and deliberately using Turkish women as an antagonistic tool, by parading them around in weird-looking black sheets, called shalvars, reminiscent of garb worn in the Ayatollah’s Iran, thus creating a derisive impression on American audiences, by adding to the already disturbing images, high decibel, loud calls to prayer, and adding to all this the grimace-full facial expressions of the reporter describing some fictional Midnight-Express type scenes in Turkish prisons, etc.” The online contributor finally concluded that “only by the vehicle of a videotaped ‘documentary’ of this disturbing caliber and quality could one convey these unpleasant elements on the show.”


 An Important Decision

 Instead of concentrating on this latest encroachment perpetrated against the Turkish nation and their government by the NBC TV Network, I decided to demonstrate and substantiate by presenting dates, and locales of the outrageous insolence being allowed to go on for years on National Broadcasting Company, NBC. Their first offense I recall goes back to the early Eighties.

Historical Balance-Sheet Of Events (From this author’s personal files.)


ITEM: Eighteen years ago, on January 13,1982 during the NBC TV News, Tom Brokaw was reporting the dastardly attack of the Armenian terrorists known as ASALA on the Turkish Embassy in Toronto, Canada. The Armenian murderers had taken the precious lives of three innocent Turks that day. Mr. Brokaw spoke in a semi-detached, uncaring manner, almost condoning the despicable acts of the Armenians. while alluding to the alleged genocide of the Armenians by the Turks. Tom Brokaw, that evening, succeeded to accomplish something no other Armenian had dared to do. He, casually and dispassionately, added 500,000 more “martyrs” to the list of the total losses of Armenians in an alleged genocide, a figure even the most virulent, and ASALA terrorist could not assemble. In those days a handful of Turks even bothered to challenge the Networks. Nonetheless, this enormous egg laid by the NBC TV Network became the subject of a legitimate written complaint addressed to them by this writer, unfortunately producing no acknowledgement to date.

ITEM: A few months later NBC-TV commentator, the late John Chancellor, again showed us how fair-minded, unbiased, and especially how knowledgeable he really was. He was referring to a report issued by the UN General Secretary of the day, Perez de Cuellar, who was urging the two parties involved in Cyprus to get together in order to solve the long-standing differences existing between — and I am quoting here the exact words of the UN Secretary: ” the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots.”
However, from the manner in which Mr. Chancellor read the news, it had to be concluded that only a Greek Cypriot majority lived on that island, the rest of the populace consisted of some insignificant amount of TURKS, and not Cypriot Turks” who happened to be living there as a negligible small minority.

A resounding silence followed our vociferous objections to his unfair treatment of the Cypriot Turks who have been on Cyprus ever since their ancestors acquired it from the Venetians in the 16th century following some bloody battles.

ITEM: After a long publicized ballyhoo an the TV screens, NBC-TV launched a report entitled, “The Gulf War and Khomeini’s Mixed Legacy” where the announcer pronounced the Ayatollah of Iran as being one of the two most influential Middle East leaders of the 20th Century. While this was going on, Teheran was witnessing hundreds of political hangings every month. The second nomination of this obviously biased report went to Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser. Why did this NBC report unceremoniously exclude the great Kemal Atatürk? Even Nasser himself used to say: “If Atatürk’ s modernization of Turkey had not taken place, the Middle Eastern countries would have had no model to follow and there would be no role model for him to emulate.”

ITEM: On another account CBS and ABC were politely mentioning the recent arrival to the U.S.A and to the White House in Washington of the then President of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Kenan Evren, for a 3-day visit, the first in 20 years. NBC chose to ignore the occasion and played down the importance of the visit by presenting a report from Turkey accompanied by archival footage dealing with economic and political problems the Turks were having at home, especially the ones about Turkey’s human rights “inequities.”

ITEM: Around the time of the visit of the Turkish President to America, and the warm reception he had gotten from the First Lady Nancy Reagan and her husband the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, a very crucial diplomatic crisis was brewing in Athens, Greece, following the tragic car bomb assassination of an American Naval Captain by the “November 17” leftist Greek terrorists, While all other networks were busy documenting the dastardly murder of a U.S. military officer thousands of miles away from home, NBC, instead of showing some compassion for the kin of the deceased, simply implied that a weak foreign policy of Ronald Reagan may have been the cause of the, what the network called “an almost expected incident.”

ITEM: During late February 1988, NBC-TV was broadcasting a report from Vienna, Austria that two Turks living in the Austrian capital were plotting a second attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II. This report was being updated by the NBC Radio stations several times that day, while various other sources were reporting that an Austrian government spokesperson had been categorically refuting its validity, and saying that the story was a ‘plant’ and had no credible basis for further publicity. NBC never retracted once its own proven false report.

ITEM: During the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea several tiny countries with no impressive athletic credit earned by their participants were singled out to receive special comments by the announcers and were given accolades following video clips depicting them as super achiever countries, regardless of their obscure claim to fame as the recipients of a bronze medal or two.

After watching the type of treatment NBC was giving them, most Turks, among them this writer, began to feel sort of excited in anticipation of hearing praises about their country’s athletes who had several gold medals in the previous Olympics. Bryant Gumbel was holding with both hands cue cards containing well-researched bits of information in front of his colleague Dick Engberg so that he could read for the appropriate occasion. to come. In the background one could hear the distant voice of someone explaining in French that the Turks were heroes to the South Koreans because 38 years earlier they had defended their country in the frozen fields of Inchon and of Kunu-Ri. The excitement was becoming almost unbearable to take. It was approaching its climax. Finally it happened. The white crescent and star on the red Turkish flag momentarily appeared on the TV screens. I held my breath. Then it happened. The Engberg fellow uttered four simple words: “The Republic of Turkey.” at that precise moment the TV cameras moved simultaneously to the scene of a locally filmed episode of some Korean country landscape. This is known within the industry as a “filler”, but what and why was it filling is still a mystery to most of us who sadly remember today the deliberate or inadvertent but callous unfairness of NBC-TV even after 18 long years.

ITEM: In August 1989 the other two networks were reporting the huge anti-Bulgarian demonstrations in Istanbul, Turkey, protesting Communist Bulgaria’s official policy of forcing ethnic Turks to change their names, preventing them from practicing their religion, and depriving them of their civil and human rights. On the other hand, NBC correspondent Rick Davis, devoid of any sympathy expressed for the Turkish tragedy, was telling the world that diplomats and human rights organizations accuse the Turkish government of hypocrisy because Turks “violently” oppress their own minorities, including the Kurds, denying them their basic civil and human rights.

ITEM: During the Spring of 1992 Barcelona, Spain Summer Olympics approached feverishly. Some of us Turks had a nagging premonition that the highly deplorable treatment the Turkish Olympic team had received in Seoul, South Korea would again be repeated, while some others were hoping that Seoul was an aberration and that it could never happen again. But the optimists lost in a big way.

At the opening day ceremonies when it was time for the 45 member-strong Turkish team to show up, on TV screens, and the Turkish flag was visible in the background as it approached the TV cameras, NBC -TV’s Bob Costas, a Greek-American who was at the helm, decided that the network he was working for should earn some extra cash to defray the network’s expenses, by going into a lengthy commercial. I wasn’t able to watch it. Someone said it was over. When the cameras returned to the opening day ceremonies, we saw that the tiny Pacific Ocean island “Tuvalu” and the African country of “Uganda,” once the personal property of one Idi Amin, were being paraded while NBC bestowed upon them generous tributes and acclaim they “richly deserved.”

ITEM: This brings us to January 10,1995. On that particular day alluding to a the New York Times editorial, the NBC News Network parroted their report and agreed with the said editorial that the Turkish Republic should have no privilege and access to purchasing military equipment from the United States of America. Turkey, a longtime ally of America, and a fellow-member in good standing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was being ostracized and cold-shouldered when it came to wishing to upgrade its armed forces, even when that meant in the defense of the Eastern flank of NATO. The objections were resulting from the desire of the Turkish government to purchase “Cluster Bombs”. NBC-TV implied that the best thing for the U.S. State Department to do would be to refuse to license the sale.

That was then, but the senseless outcry of the brain-damaged members of the Armenian lobby and of other organizations today opposing feverishly in their flurry of actions in sending thousands of letters to the members of Congress against granting Turks the sale of military helicopters... that it needs for the modernization of its armed forces...  is very much reminiscent of those days. The detractors of the Turks claimed in 1995, as they are today, as a broken record, that such sales of military equipment to Turkey would be used against the Kurdish citizens, and especially against the “peaceful, and democratic” country of the Armenian Republic. One footnote in passing would be the fact that the same Armenian Republic, who is trying to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the world, has just donated a goodly chunk of its territory facing the country of Turkey to Armenians' “historical benefactors,” the Russians, free of any remuneration whatsoever.

ITEM: Finally, a sample of an op-Ed letter the Turkish Times had received from one of my readers on September 1, 1996 brings us to the end of our “Historical Balance Sheet” involving our friends at the NBC Radio and TV networks. Mr. Kamuran Ince of somewhere in California wrote and said, “I’m sure all of us sighed with relief and joy when the Turkish team was not omitted during the showing of the opening of the ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Ozan’ s article “The Spirit of Olympics” (TTT July 15,1996) summed up the feelings of all Turkish Americans in a most emphatic and articulate way. Thanks for printing it.”



 (Holdwater: This was the "Foreword" to another running of the above editorial, some years later.)

Mahmut Esat Ozan
The Turkish Forum

There are times when we say, ”Actions speak louder than words.” On Sunday May 6, 2001 the Turkish community
of Southern Florida woke up to the realities and acted according to what was contained in that saying. That day the local newspaper, The Miami Herald had a shocking story written by the anchor of the NBC-TV affiliate WTVJ-NBC6 in Miami, Florida, a Ms. Jennifer Valoppi. Her very prominently displayed story , “ARMENIAN SURVIVORS’ TERROR,VALOR WON’T BE FORGOTTEN”. disturbed Florida’s Turkish-Americans and their friends, so much that something had to be done, and it was done. The Miami Herald must have received telephone calls, faxed messages galore. The column I wrote and sent to the paper is hoped to be published in a few days to clarify all sorts of inaccuracies, false accusations, and racist remarks Ms. Jennifer Valoppi had put in her article. Ms. Valoppi is a well known news anchor at the Miami affiliate of the parent NBC radio and TV Network. For some unfathomable reason the NBC conglomerate has never been fair with the Turkish communities in the United States of America . To emphasize my point I would like to bring forth ,one more time, to the attention of everyone within the reach of our voice, how NBC Radio and TV Network has been treating the Turks and their vital interest during the last two decades.



 More  NBC-TV Thoughts, from 2002


(Holdwater: Here, Professor Ozan borrows from that other wonderfully feisty commentator, Edward Tashji... whose wonderful commentaries have been featured elsewhere on this web site.)


Mahmut Esat Ozan
The Turkish Forum

The major news story coming out of the Olympics hasn't been athletic, it's been mostly political as demonstrated during the figure skating scandals. US's neighbor Canada also is covering the same Olympic games. However, CBC - Canadian TV Network's approach has been quite different than NBC's. CBC had, from the beginning a more balanced and less nationalistic coverage. There have been repercussions of unfairness attributed to NBC's operation style. If you add to this outcry the complaints made by the officials of the Turkish participants, you can bet that this brouhaha is sure to continue for a while.

The Olympic games will soon come to an end. There will be the usual closing day ceremonies, the many speeches, the parties, and the rest. Following this expected 'hoopla' we will be reading many post-game articles adorned with a myriad of photographs of the departing athletes, and so on. Finally everyone will go home and the scandalous behavior of the judge and of the NBC-TV Network will be swept under the rug and will be forgotten for another two years. As I indicated in my previous essay on the "Salt Lake 2002" winter Olympics, I had promised not to pursue this matter in the future, knowing that the NBC-TV Network was not interested in the rectification of their bigoted actions, but here I am, at it again. Why? Here's the reason:

This week I received e-mails, all urging me not to stop but continue to defend the individual rights of not only the Turkish athletes but also the collective rights and the prerogatives of every Turk on this planet who has felt violated on three different occasions in the past. The letter writers were right. NBC had deprived all of us of our rights to be able to view the Turkish athletes having come from the country of our birthplace, and prevented us from enjoying the display of the Turkish flag among the flags of the other nations. The Turkish Olympic team deserved to be viewed without an NBC-TV Network official like Bob Costas injecting his personal Greek-American animosity into the picture. One reader among them spoke about the need for the Turkish viewers to hear a satisfactory answer from the NBC-TV Network which had wronged them several times earlier. This latest logical admonition of the NBC-TV Network came of all places, from far away Australia.

While I was debating anew the issue in my mind, whether to do it or not, I received a call from a gentleman I've been admiring through the years. His name is Edward Tashji. He is among my favored acquaintances, even though I have not yet met him. He was born in the United States of America from Armenian and Suryani parents who taught him a fluent and flawless Turkish, and instilled in him an exemplary Turkish patriotism. Instead of recounting to you the content of our lengthy phone conversation, I decided to share with you one of Edward's letters he had sent to the proper authorities, including the NBC offices expressing in detail the long-standing common struggle we had with the Greeks and the Armenians residing in Diaspora. While reading his letter, you will be acquainted with his unusually interesting background, and you will soon discover the sincerity of the words used by this genuinely loyal friend of every Turk.

Therefore, I am delighted to be able to share Edward's letter here with you. He gave "TURKISH FORUM " his blessing for its dissemination all over the world for everyone to read and learn the truth. His words will give you great solace as they did to me. In my sincerest view they are precious, and I believe you will like them also. The fact that Judge Sam A. Weem's soon to be published book, [ April 6, 2002 ] entitled : "ARMENIA-THE GREAT DECEPTION-SECRETS OF A CHRISTIAN TERRORIST STATE," has been receiving an unbelievably ugly, and shameful collection of mail, comparing them with the beautiful words of a real Christian Armenian, will make you feel so much better, and without a doubt you will be as proud of Edward Tashji as you have been of Judge Sam.

Edward is at present the Director of Public Affairs of FTAA, the Federation of Turkish American Associations, Inc. situated in New York City. You may like to place his e-mail address into your data bank: ftaa@ftaa.org <mailto:ftaa@ftaa.org> and you might even send him a few lines to show your feelings toward him. What follows is a copy of Edward's letter:

Ms. Christine Brennen,
Director-NBC Olympic Broadcasting
National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, N.Y. 10112


Dear Ms. Brennen,

As the son of Christian Armenian and Suryani parents whose place of birth had been the Turkish homeland, I have been blessed with their love and wisdom for the people of Turkey. I'm proud to say that I share with them our mutual history and culture. Throughout a lifetime, I attempted to educate my country, (USA) and my fellow American citizens, urging them to learn history, in general and the concepts of humanity, Magnanimity, and tolerance inherent in the Turkish people.

The maniacal animosity displayed against the Turks on the part of two ethnic groups in our country is well known to me, as well as to others. A manifestation of ignorance and a blatant anti-Turkish posture is apparent in the American Media also. Nevertheless, these reasons will never be strong enough to deter me from my humble efforts in maintaining my six-centuries old cultural bond with the Turkish nation.

The obvious pursuit of the personal agenda of Mr. Bob Costas has cast a shadow upon the prestige of your NBC-TV Network. The Turkish heart has always been and still remains to be devoid of hatred. Turks will once again display their inherited patience and compassion even for their detractors. But as an American-born person, I cannot see myself being as compassionate as my Turkish friends, toward these "hate merchants." Isn'it a pity that their sick philosophy of hatred is the only legacy they will have to leave to their innocent children. What a shame!

In conclusion, Ms. Brennen, I feel elated to have brought some refreshing news item for your corporate offices to ponder upon. A friend, calling from Canada informed me today and I am passing it on to you that a live broadcast of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games had displayed from Salt Lake City not only the Turkish flag in all its glory, but also the entire Turkish athletes making up the team. This took place during the Parade of Nations sequence of the presentation of the televised broadcast which was being fed throughout Canada! If I may say so, this should be a valued future lesson for your NBC -TV Network.

Our efforts on behalf of the continuation of close and friendly relations between the United States of America and the Republic of Turkey remain among our main priorities. Therefore, in spite of Bob Costas' bigoted efforts to harm the Turks and the lackadaisical, uncaring attitude of the NBC-TV Network and their unfair treatment of the Turkish Olympic teams, our vigilant work will not come to an end. We are determined to continue to defend our rights. I do not wish to confront any representative of your NBC-TV Network during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and say: "Please don't commit another regrettable political 'faux-pas' by moving the television cameras away from the Turkish athletes and their venerable flag!. Enough is enough!"

In the name of universal harmony,
Edward Tashji,
Director of Public Affairs- FTAA


Holdwater: I do recall seeing an Olympics show on NBC-TV from years back... I don't remember the Turkish athlete's name, but he gained notice because of his small stature (he was nicknamed "The Midget Hercules," I believe... originally a Turk from Bulgaria, if I'm not mistaken.) Anyway, I paid special note to the way Greek-American host Bob Costas introduced the Turkish weight-lifter (or was he a wrestler... can't recall) ... and he was SO nice. I guess Mr. Costas got a talking-to after word from the complaints that had been trickling in through the years, and on this one occasion, he tried to make amends.





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