In a surprising move, today the Editors Guild issued a statement noting concern over words used by Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his criticism of ANI editor-in-chief Smita Prakash. Referring to Smita’s interview of prime minister earlier this week, Rahul Gandhi had labelled the journalist as ‘pliable’, saying that along with asking questions, she was also answering them. The Congress president had made the comments during a press conference yesterday where he had repeated the lie that Modi has given ₹30,000 crore to Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal.
Smita Prakash had strongly refuted the allegations by Rahul Gandhi, saying it was a cheap shot to attack her.
Dear Mr Rahul Gandhi, cheap shot at your press conference to attack me. I was asking questions not answering. You want to attack Mr Modi, go ahead but downright absurd to ridicule me. Not expected of a president of the oldest political party in the country.
— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) January 2, 2019
Rahul Gandhi’s comments had attracted strong criticism on social media, but the mainstream media was silent on this, despite such unacceptable words being used for a senior journalist. People were also asking why Editors Guild is silent on the issue, who otherwise gets agitated when non-editorial, commercial departments of media organisations are investigated for violation of laws.
Who is the President of the Editor’s Guild?
May be that will explain the eloquent silence on Rahul Gandhi heckling a journalist for interviewing the Prime Minister!
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) January 3, 2019
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had also tweeted that he is waiting for a response from Editors Guild on the issue.
Why are the pseudo liberals silent? Waiting for the Editors guild’s response.
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) January 3, 2019
Perhaps reacting to such strong reactions on Social Media, the Editors Guild was forced to issue the statement. But instead of condemning the language used by Rahul Gandhi, they just noted that with concern. And in the 5 para statement, the reference to Smita Prakash’s humiliation is limited to the first para only. Instead, the Editors Guild goes on to mention attacks on media by various political parties in the statement.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement. pic.twitter.com/XJ8OAylXxx
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 3, 2019
Instead of a specific statement condemning Rahul Gandhi, the statement becomes an overall criticism of the attack on media. The statement mentions various abusive words used by politicians to describe journalists, like ‘presstitute’, ‘news traders’, ‘bazaaru, ‘dalaal’ etc, saying that top BJP and AAP leaders have used such expressions. Interestingly, there is no mention of Congress and other political parties in the statement.
After that, the statement directly attacks the government alleging boycotts, denial of access and late government accreditation, saying these add up to a reprehensible strategy to throttle media freedom. The statement ends with taking strong exception to this tendency and calls of its halt. It does not call for an apology from Rahul Gandhi.