Something very unusual, if not unprecedented, happened in Istanbul March 4. A group of policemen marched to Zaman, Turkey's largest-circulation daily newspaper, with a court order to seize it. They dispersed the hundreds of protesters waiting for them in front of Zaman's offices with tear gas, forced themselves into the building and took control of the newsroom. Soon, Editor-in-Chief Abdulhamid Bilici learned that he was fired. The newspaper's website went offline. Meanwhile, Zaman's 27 years of digital archives — including all of its news stories, editorials and op-eds — were erased. A whole newspaper was destroyed.
The destruction made room for a new creation. A day after the police took full control, Zaman, which had lately become very outspoken against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his rule, found itself with an opposite political line under a trustee appointed by the government to manage the paper. It now praises Erdogan and his glorious "New Turkey." In other words, it became one of dozens of other Turkish newspapers whose sole mission is to support the powerful president and intimidate his foes.