The Congress president had said ANI editor-in-chief Smita Prakash’s interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ‘staged’.
New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for criticising ANI editor-in-chief Smita Prakash over her interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while also calling out other political leaders for using derogatory terms for journalists.
Prakash had interviewed Modi Tuesday, in which he had answered questions on several issues such as the BJP’s recent defeat in assembly polls in three states.
The Congress chief had Wednesday called the television interview “staged” and said that it was conducted by a “pliable” journalist. His comments drew flak from all corners, including Prakash, who described his comments as a “cheap shot” in a tweet.
The Editors Guild too called out the labelling of journalists. “The Guild believes journalists should claim no immunity from healthy and civilised criticism,” it said in a statement.
“At the same time, labelling of journalists has emerged as a favourite tactic on the part of the establishment to discredit, delegitimise and intimidate them,” it added.
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‘A common tactic by all parties’
The Guild statement further said that the political class has been using the tactic of labelling journalists for some time now.
“In the recent past, top BJP leaders, as well as those of AAP, have used unambiguously abusive expressions such as presstitute, news traders, bazaaru (saleable commodities) or dalals (pimps) for journalists,” the statement said.
It added that such abusive words have been combined with ploys such as boycotts, denial of access, and lately government accreditation, which adds up to a “reprehensible” strategy to throttle media freedom.
The Guild said that this must be reversed.
“Journalists, we believe, will continue to deal with these with their usual thick skins and not let these tactics intimidate them,” the statement added. “The Guild, as an apex, non-partisan institution, however, takes strong exception to this tendency and calls for its halt.”
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Without getting into the specifics of this case, it is undeniably true that some journalists have become camp followers. May have happened since the dawn of time, but it seems more striking nowadays. It has come to a stage where I just do not read columns by particular individuals, virtually do not watch some prominent channels.
It’s laughable. Press don’t have any immunity from criticism. There is no doubt that interview was staged. Said Ms. Prakash was nodding like an obedient servant. She didn’t try to ask counter questions when Mr. Modi come up with baseless claim. It’s high time that journalists should accept the fact that “paid news” is a reality.
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