Karan Thapar takes on Shekhar Gupta on credit

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.

Thapar writes:

“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….

“I felt this was unethical. In fact, to be honest, it felt like ‘theft’. So I smsed a complaint to Shekhar Gupta, the editor of the Express, and Sandeep Bamzai, the editor of Mail Today.

“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


  1. Col (r) A Sekhar

    Dear Sir,
    1.The facts put out by Karan Thapar make sad reading.
    Further, the responses to his sms make even sadder reading.
    2.In a media world increasingly fighting for credibility,such episodes serve them no good.
    3.This reader is puzzled. Why does this happen?That too with reputed Editors?

  2. Whatever is the matter with SG these days anyway!

  3. Goldstar

    Karan Thapar is on the wrong wicket here. Is he claiming copyright on the question ?

  4. ERR

    It’s surprising there are differences at all.. Most of media that we have faithfully report whatever the govt in power dishes out but move around like cat’s whiskers! They dare not ask inconvenient questions, there’s little real investigative journalism ( oh for Woodward and Bernstein who could take on the President !). Please don’t make me laugh!

    1. Dear Churumuri

      Your observation that honesty is a diminishing virtue is based on the innocent assumption that honesty is a virtue and that the English press is overflowing with it. Honesty should not only abjure plagiarism but include unbiased coverage too. Sekhar Gupta won an award from the India Chapter of the International Press Institute and Padmabhushan for freewheeling reportage of Gujarat riots. We have also seen the frantic efforts of the English press to invent fresh lies about Modi, afraid that he would become the prime minister. Editors of the English press believe they are the children of C.P.Scott. They are in fact children of Sir Issac Pitman. They are all agents of the corporate patrons billed to gentrify the readers and promote consumerism. Please don’t look for anything useful for the people in the English press. Sensationalism is their hallmark. The day you realize this truth about the English press, please write to me.

      Dasu krishnamoorty

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