The Editors Guild of India on Thursday moved in with lightning speed to express its ‘concern’ over Congress President Rahul Gandhi calling ANI editor Smita Prakash ‘pliable.’ In its statement, the EGI said that while it believes journalists should claim no immunity from healthy and civilised criticism, at the same time their labelling has emerged as a ‘favourite tactic’ on the part of the establishment to discredit, delegitimise and intimidate them.
Its statement read, “We have seen our political class use this 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.”
News agency PTI reported that there were differences within the EGI over the need to issue a public statement on Rahul Gandhi’s statement. Some members in the executive committee reportedly felt that Gandhi’s statement did not amount to attacking the freedom of expression of a journalist.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement. pic.twitter.com/XJ8OAylXxx
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 3, 2019
Soon after the EGI issued its statement, it faced criticism from journalists and Congress supporters for its double-standards. Many journalists slammed it for its mysterious silence on the physical assault on photo journalist Shajila Ali Fathima, who was attacked by pro-Hindutva thugs in Kerala during the protests over women’s entry into Sabarimala temple.
The photo of Fathima carrying out her duty even after being attacked by Hindutva goons had gone viral on social media. Some journalists also pointed out that the Guild’s silence on the jailing of a journalist in Manipur, Kishorechandra Wangkhem by the BJP government.
The positive thing is it took a statement by RG to get the Editors Guild to issue a statement. Otherwise it was comatose all these years when journos and media outfits were being abused by top leadership of this regime. Let’s look at the silver linings!
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) January 4, 2019
editors guild, surely they’ve better things to do. if a politician impinges the freedom of the press let’s speak up, but it is not our job to call out a politician for speaking the truth. the modi interview was indeed the work of a pliant journohttps://t.co/hhrb39lXJr
— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) January 4, 2019
Obama had called Fox News a Destructive TV Channel, Rahul has only called a paid journalist ‘pliable’! India’s Editors Guild, of course, a Guild of Pliable Jokers! https://t.co/zpu36bM3nv
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) January 4, 2019
Hahaha! The promptness of editors guild! https://t.co/IMlaDGfFxN
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) January 3, 2019
Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview with ANI, Gandhi had called Smita Prakash, the news agency’s editor who conducted the interview, a pliable journalist. This had prompted both Prakash and senior BJP leaders to attack Gandhi. Even on Friday, BJP MP Anurag Thakur spoke passionately in favour of Prakash as he criticised Gandhi. He said, “PM Modi answered on every issue in the 95-minute interview. What did Rahul Gandhi expect Ms Smita Prakash to ask? ‘What you like to eat, how is your dog etc?’ And later Rahul Gandhi attacking the woman journalist for it is extremely condemnable.”