VOA Turkish service reporters were outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Tuesday, May 16, when a brawl broke out between visiting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters and pro-Kurdish demonstrators calling for pro-Kurdish parliamentarian Selahattin Demirtas’ release from prison. Erdogan’s bodyguards were also involved in the scuffle. A number of people were injured and arrested. Washington D.C. metropolitan police barricaded the perimeter of the embassy to separate the groups.
The VOA video quickly circulated online and on social media, and was requested for use by dozens of U.S. and international media outlets, including ABC, CBS, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post, Daily Mail, and Reuters. It reached 3 million people in the first 12 hours after it was posted on the VOA Turkish website and social media platforms. In addition, the same video was retweeted and rebroadcasted by many other sources, including former U.N. representative Samantha Power, former White House spokesperson Dana Perino, CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, Politico's Editor-in-Chef Blake Hounshell, CNN Indonesia, WUSA9 (DC CBS affiliate), The Boston Globe, Buzzfeed and news.com.au. VOA received many thank you notes from U.S. media outlets including CNN and ABC.
Throughout Turkish president Erdogan’s visit to Washington, VOA Turkish reporters appeared live dozens of times on newscasts of major Turkish TV stations, including CNNTurk, Haberturk, NTV, Kanal D, Fox TV, TGRT Haber TV, Ege Turk TV and Halk TV, in addition to the daily live broadcasts for the service’s two affiliates, TGRT Haber TV and Ege TURK TV.
“First I’d like to say that Voice of America makes very successful shows. I’ve been following your broadcasts from different channels. Thank you Voice of America. We will continue to watch you. Thanks for informing us,” prime-time news anchor for FOX TV in Turkey, Fatih Portakal, said as VOA Turkish reporter Dilge Timocin appeared live in his show covering the latest on President Trump’s meeting with his Turkish counterpart.