Turkish news channel fires anchor over Starbucks cup on desk

Meltem Günay, a veteran TV news anchor in Turkey, was suddenly dismissed from his position at TGRT Haber after being seen with a Starbucks cup on his desk during a broadcast. The incident sparked controversy in Turkey, where Starbucks is considered pro-Israel. The 45-year-old anchor and program director faced immediate dismissal in response to the backlash.

TGRT Haber, in a statement, expressed its commitment to understanding the sensitivity of the Turkish people regarding Gaza and condemned the actions of the presenter and director. The dismissal was justified as the anchor and director were found to have acted contrary to the company’s principles.

“In the news broadcast of TGRT Haber TV on 24.12.2023, Meltem Günay, who was an announcer, was seen presenting the news with a Starbucks cup in front of him. Under the principles of our organization, it is strictly prohibited for an announcer to do this TGRT Presenting news on TV in a way that secretly advertises any company. News anchors and directors who acted contrary to this principle were terminated for good cause. Our organization has an understanding that Gaza knows the sensitivities of the Turkish people regarding and defends them to the end. It is absolutely impossible to approve any action or publication to the contrary. We do not approve this action of the presenter and the director, whose employment contract is terminated have been carried out, and we strongly condemn it. For this reason, their employment contracts were terminated. From now on, our organization will stand with the people of Gaza and Turkey and protect their sensitivities to the end. It is announced with respect in front.” The tweet said

In recent weeks, a widespread boycott of Starbucks has emerged in Turkey, with coffee aficionados accusing the company of bias towards Israel, particularly those supported by pro-Palestinian sympathizers. Social media has been filled with viral videos of protesters outside Starbucks locations, urging customers to refrain from supporting the coffee giant.

Turkey, a NATO member aligned with Israel during the rule of a historically secular government, has shifted to a more confrontational stance under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is facing criticism in the United States as unionized workers criticize Israel and express sympathy for the Palestinians on social media. Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan blamed “misrepresentations on social media” about the company’s stance on Israel and Hamas for the controversies in a recent letter.