Politicians and journalists have never been best friends. They are not supposed to be. It’s simple: you don’t bromance a person you are supposed to ask uncomfortable questions of and consistently give grief. An adversarial relationship between politicians and journalists is but a sign of a healthy democracy with a free press.
This year, though, saw hostility between the two groups peak like never before – and, the inimicalness, on occasions, seemed to be more than just general antagonism that the two groups have historically had towards each other. Here are nine such instances when tempers got frayed, insults were exchanged – and clashes started to appear more personal than professional.
Rathore reacted with much melodrama, sending out a barrage of tweets invoking his wife and his “highest respect for women personally and professionally”. Defiant in his demeanour, Rathore called IANS’ report “totally false”. “Shame,” he lamented.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s online support base put its weight behind Rathore (read: resorted to calling the media names). Just as the outrage on both sides had started to wither off, a recording of Rathore’s original speech surfaced.
Turns out, Rathore wasn’t being his accurate Olympic silver medalist shooter self in his assertions about the report being false and fabricated. Rathore, the tapes revealed, did say that role of women could be “far better utilised without actually going out in the field”. Rifle in your mouth, anyone?
Singh mumbled something like an explanation, but refused to apologise. The BJP “distanced” itself from the comment (Twitter, a party spokesperson said, is a “personal platform”). But the damage was done. Presstitute (which Microsoft Word, surprisingly, still doesn’t recognise as a valid word) has since been the word to hurl at a journalist if you don’t like what he/she writes/says. Singh’s legacy continues be carried forward. Not just by Twitter trolls but also by party spokespersons like Sanju Verma. Talk about giving legitimacy.
Irani was understandably upset and shot back at Singhal: “Would you ask such a question to a man?” Unlikely, we say.
Ouch, that must have hurt.
Shah bullied India Today TV’s chocolate-boy Rahul Kanwal like it was college ragging session. “Aap itne uchal-uchal kar paanch din se Dadri-Dadri kar rahe hain Rahul Kanwal, jahhan par Hindu ladkon ko maar diya gaya hai wahaan par kitnon ko arrest kiya hai, aapne study kiya hai? Study kiya hai?
Don’t know whether Kanwal has since studied what Shah wanted him to, we certainly hope he does his homework better the next time he interviews someone like Shah.
8. Smriti Irani, again. This time, though, she showed very little of the grace she exuded while dealing with the Aaj Tak anchor. Reacting to a story in The Economic Times about her proposing close to 5,100 admissions to Kendriya Vidyalayas in the current academic year, Irani launched a scathing personal attack against the reporter of the story on Twitter, calling the story “source-based agenda”.
The journalist stood her ground, reaffirming that she got no response from the ministry in spite of repeated requests.
For the sake of future reference: a good way to counter source-based agenda is giving the reporter your own agenda-based responses. Just saying.
Question the journalist’s integrity when he doesn’t ask the questions you want him to. Party of change, did someone say?
Clarification: An earlier version of this article contained an event from 2014. The error is regretted.