On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Dainik Baskar’s digital arm DB Post published an interview with Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland. The interviewer had claimed to have met Marin in Helsinki. But now it had emerged that no such interview had taken place, and the entire interview was fabricated.
The ‘interview’ comprised of 15 questions that the Finnish PM had ‘answered’, which was labelled as exclusive by Bhaskar. The publication had claimed that the interviewer had gone to Finland and met Sanna Marin for an exclusive chat. According to it, Marin had described India as having great potential, apart from giving detailed answers.
DB Post wrote, “Bhaskar’s representative in the USA went to Finland and met Marin for an exclusive chat. On the International Women’s Day Bhaskar brings you the first interview of the youngest head of state of the world- Sana Marin, by an Indian media.”
The report said that “Marin gets uncomfortable when addressed as ‘woman prime minister’. She is of the opinion that the biggest obstacles in the path of holistic progress are gender and religious discrimination”.
The interview, published on the website of DB Post, was spotted by Finnish prime minister’s office on Sunday, March 8 itself, according to a report by Finnish media house Journalisti. Päivi Anttikoski, Communications Director of Finland government said that she is amazed that a major Indian media house published an interview that never took place. “We would have known if anyone in Helsinki had interviewed the Prime Minister”, she said, affirming that the interview is fake.
Following the discovery of the fake interview, the Finnish govt launched an operation to seek answers from India, including through the Indian Embassy in Helsinki. They were informed that the interview was handed over to Dainik Bhaskar by a freelance journalist, including notes on Finnish govt letterhead. Anttikoski asserts that the letterheads are also fake, and they are not from the Finnish govt’s office.
While going through the answers given by Sanna Marin in the fake interview, it was later determined that the text was lifted from an earlier interview of the Finnish PM given to German TV channel ZDF. The transcript of a portion of the TV interview was published on the ZDF website on February 19th, and it appears that Bhaskar repackaged it and presented it to DBPost as his exclusive interview of Marin. The media house too failed to check the authenticity of the interview and published it on its website.
According to Journalisti, DB Post had confirmed that they had received a request from the Cabinet Office of Finland for a correction of the story, and they had assured that it will be resolved. After that, the portal removed the interview from its website, without issuing any apology or clarification.