Even after a quarter-century or thereabouts of television interviewing, Karan Thapar‘s competitive edge has far from dimmed.
In his weekly column in the Hindustan Times (whose failed TV venture Home TV he helped set up in the 1990s), Thapar takes offence at the Indian Express and Mail Today for not crediting him for an interview with Union minister Kamal Nath; in fact going so far as to accuse them of “unethical practices”.
Briefly, Nath told Thapar for his CNN-IBN show Devil’s Advocate on September 7 that the CBI was well within its rights to question the PM in the coal scam if need be.
The interview, he says was recorded at 1 pm on Saturday; by 3 pm CNN-IBN began running news clips; by 3:15 pm excerpts were placed on IBN Live, the channel’s website; and by 5 pm emailed to the press, including Express and Mail Today.
“Imagine my surprise when on Sunday (September 8) I discovered that the Express and Mail Today had done identical interviews, with Kamal Nath making exactly the same point.
“Was this a coincidence? Or was it just conceivable they had seen the news clips and the excerpts and decided to put the same question to Kamal Nath so they could claim he had given the same answer to them as well?
“In other words, had they cleverly converted our interview into their own?
“Curious but also upset, I telephoned the minister. He confirmed my suspicions. Shortly after CNN-IBN began running news clips, the papers contacted him and asked the same questions about the PM and the CBI….
“Shekhar didn’t respond. Sandeep did. He accepted what had happened was “bad form” and promised a clarification on Monday (September 9). It appeared on page 24. If I hadn’t known it was coming, I would have missed it….
“But these days honesty, it seems, is a diminishing virtue. On that count, sadly, journalists can’t claim to be very different from politicians.”
For the record, Thapar acknowledges that Press Trust of India, Business Standard and The Hindu carried Thapar’s interview, duly crediting CNN-IBN.
Also, for the record, Shekhar Gupta hosts the Walk the Talk interview show on NDTV that competes with Thapar’s Devil Advocate.
But the questions are obvious: can a TV interviewer who sends out a press release before an interview is aired claim exclusivity if a newspaper approaches the same interviewee with the same questions? Are Union ministers like Nath really “exclusive” material?
Read the full column: Honesty is a diminishing virtue