If you got all your Turkish news from actual Turkish news outlets, you might not have any idea that thousand of protesters had turned the street of Istanbul and other cities into riotous battlegrounds for the last week. To say nothing of the government's ignorant anti-social media campaign, the country's three main television networks (including CNN Turkey) have almost completely ignored the demonstrations, mentioning them only in passing on the evening news, and going on with their regular programming without interruption. That's because government censors are allowed to restrict news media when "public health and morals, national security, public order, public safety, and the unity of the land are at stake."
But that didn't stop one wily show from finding its way around the media blackout. On Monday, a Scrabble-esque game show called "The Word Game," slyly crafted all of its puzzles so that each answer referenced the protests without specifically bringing them up. Host Ali Ihsan Varol asked contestants to guess words based on clues like, "A journey undertaken to see, to have fun." The answer, in Turkish, is "Gezi" the name of the park where the protests first started. Other words that had to be guessed during the show included "Freedom," "Solidarity," "Ballot Box," "Dictator," and "Twitter."
All 70 of Monday's night answers refereced the demonstrations in some way, including the last two: "Resign" and "Apologize."
While Varol and his staff don't appear to havebeen punished for their civil disobedience, their performance was clearly not unnoticed by the powers that be. The next night, the show, which is normally broadcasts live, was forced to air a pre-recorded episode. "The Word Game" airs on Bloomberg TV.
Those annoyed by the media blackout have other ways to thumb their nose at the media outlets that have downplayed the protests. Penguins have became a popular meme in Turkey after CNN Turkey chose to ignore the riots last weekend in order to air a primetime documentary about penguins. A famous actor showed up for an interview on CNN wearing a penguin shirt, with the popoulr Hurriyet stuck them into a front page political cartoon. People have also been photoshopping peguins into photos of the protests, replacing the beseiged demonstrators in just the latest sign of just how clever these protestors can be.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.