Last edited: January 28, 2005

Message Regarding NBC’s “The West Wing”

Assembly of Turkish American Associations, January 28, 2005

Dear Members of the Turkish American Community:

Two weeks after Fox Television’s first episode of “24” defamed Turkey, Turkish companies, and Turkish Americans as supporters of terrorism, NBC’s “The West Wing” defamed Turkey and the ruling Justice and Development Party as executioners of women who have premarital sex.

The “West Wing” episode, “King Corn”, (NBC, January 26, 9am EST), takes place in the corn-growing state of Iowa and concerns a presidential campaign focused on farm subsidies, ethanol, and NAFTA. During the campaign, there arises an international crisis in which Turkey, having adopted Islamic laws under the leadership of the AKP, has convicted and ordered the execution by beheading of a woman, Karli, for having sex with her fiancée. The stated crime is adultery. The news, displaying a map of Turkey and the Turkish flag, adds that the execution will create difficulties for Turkey’s EU admission. Furthermore, the news states that despite the tragic situation of this Turkish woman, the US Administration places so much importance on Turkey’s alliance that it will continue to support Turkey.

A major theme in “King Corn” concerns how presidential candidates and their campaign managers must weigh between political expediency and moral obligations when campaigning. In order to gain corn farmer votes, one candidate supports a measure in violation of his conscience, as he believes the measure actually helps corporate interests rather than corn farmers. Another candidate obeys his conscience and speaks his mind to the farmers despite the risk of losing their support. The wife of the former, who is upset at the fact that her husband acted against his conscience, campaigns the rights of the “poor Turkish woman” and attempts to get her husband interested in the issue. But her husband is more interested in farmer votes than Turkish human rights.

John Wells Productions is in association with Warner Brother Studios. In “King Corn”, the Executive Producer was John Wells, Director Alex Graves, and Emmy award winning writer and creator Aaron Sorkin. Despite their credentials, it appears that these men either conducted no research or deliberately ignored the facts.

The ATAA Anti-Defamation Committee reported that the statements made in “King Corn” regarding Turkey and AKP are false, as there is no Islamic law, no crime of adultery, no crime of fornication, and no death penalty in Turkey. For over 80 years, the Turkish legal code has been based on European models: Swiss, French, Italian and German. AKP, listening to its few orthodox constituents, considered a law against adultery, and wisely decided against it. AKP never envisioned the death penalty for such a crime.

 The Committee reported that the Wells team even got the crime wrong, citing adultery to describe sexual relations between two unmarried individuals. As there is no Turkish law on the matter, the Committee reviewed the closest law that could be found. Under Virginia law, which was repealed only days ago, adultery occurs when a married person has sex with a person to whom he or she is not married. Under the same law, premarital sex constitutes the ancient crime of fornication. If the Wells team wanted to be more persuasive in their misrepresentation, they might have fit the right crime to the facts they imagined.

Furthermore, the Committee reported that Turkey is an anti-death penalty country on paper and in practice. AKP removed the death penalty from the books, and prior ruling parties refused to use it. Indeed, the last execution in Turkey took place over twenty years ago regarding an Armenian ASALA terrorist who stormed Ankara International Airport and massacred 10, wounded 72 and executed an American hostage. During the same period, 948 have been executed in America, four since January 1, 2005 ( The method of execution in Turkey was hanging, as in the states of Washington and New Jersey, and never beheading, as in countries of France or Saudi Arabia.

The ATAA is communicating with NBC, Wells Productions, Warner Brothers and the sponsors, with the objective to arrest the defamation and obtain relief.


Vural Cengiz
President, ATAA
Assembly of Turkish American Associations

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