The leader of the nation that has jailed more reporters than any country in the world is praising Donald Trump for putting CNN reporter Jim Acosta “in his place” during a press conference on Wednesday.
“And Mr. Trump put the reporter of that [media] group in his place there,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a speech at Beştepe Presidential Complex in Ankara on Thursday, according to the Daily Sabah, a pro-government news outlet.
According to Washington Hatti, an English-language Turkish news outlet, Erdogan used the word “benzetmek,” which is roughly translated to English as “beating someone badly,” to describe Trump’s response to Acosta.
Trump and Acosta had their intense exchange during Wednesday’s press conference after the reporter demanded to be able to ask a question after the president-elect criticized CNN’s reporting on a 35-page dossier alleging that Trump was being blackmailed by the Russian government. (RELATED: Trump Tells CNN’s Jim Acosta: ‘You Are Fake News!’)
“Don’t be rude. I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” Trump said to Acosta.
While the exchange is just the most recent battle Trump has had with the press, Erdogan has engaged in an all-out war against the media in his own country.
His increasingly authoritarian government has jailed nearly 150 reporters in recent years, the most of any nation in the world, according to human rights watchers. Dozens of news outlets have also been shuttered, usually based on flimsy accusations of promoting terrorist groups or for publishing reports that are critical of Erdogan or his Justice and Development party (AKP).
One media company targeted by the regime is Dogan Holdings, which controls CNN’s Turkish franchise. The company is owned by a business partner of Trump Organization.
Erdogan’s crackdown on the Turkish press has increased since a failed coup attempt was carried out against the government in July.
Erdogan has blamed U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the attempted putsch. He has also purged media outlets, the military, police forces, the judicial system and the education system of tens of thousands of alleged supporters of Gulen. The Turkish government has designated the Gulen movement as a terrorist group and refers to it as Fethullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO.
Erdogan has pressured the Obama administration to extradite Gulen. And while the administration has refused, Erdogan has suggested that Trump will be more open to the request. Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, published an op-ed in November called for the U.S. to hand Gulen over to Turkey. The Daily Caller later discovered that Flynn was being paid by a Turkish businessman with ties to the government when he wrote the op-ed.