As Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao addressed a press conference yesterday on the Covid-19 outbreak, media outlets were keeping pace to report on what he said.
Unfortunately, several of them got facts wrong.
Outlets like ANI and Economic Times reported that KCR announced that the state's lockdown would continue till June 3.
The truth was actually lost in translation: KCR cited a survey by the Boston Consultancy Group which favoured extending the lockdown till June 3. KCR himself appealed to the central government to extend the lockdown, saying India "will not be able to handle things if the lockdown is hastily lifted".
Halfway through his press conference, KCR realised he had been misquoted. Someone off-screen showed him a phone. "It says corona lockdown extended till June 3, right?" KCR said. "Economic Times, right?" Addressing the briefing, he said, "Do we have no brains? I'm sitting here openly doing press conferences in English, Hindi..."
During the press briefing, he also went full nuclear on the media.
KCR had been discussing the "propaganda" and irresponsible reporting by several TV channels in the state, where misreporting and fake news is fairly common.
"There are a lot of journalists on the bad path. Whether they know it or not, they are writing nonsense, crazy writings...I won't take the names but they have written horrible things," he said.
Citing media reportage on how Telangana has a shortage of personal protective equipment for its health workers, he said journalists have asked where are the PPEs. "Do you know we have 40,000 PPEs? I should put a case...In this time, you should show courage of the mind. Doctors are sacrificing everything. Instead of giving them courage, you are writing we have no PPEs. Will they come to any good? This is a bad path."
He also said: "Write good things or go to sleep. You should write about great things. Your mind is crooked. I pray you get better. It is your karma...guarantee you will get corona, this is my curse to you." KCR said that this was not the time to criticise the government, and one could do it four years later during election time.
It's a good time to remember that KCR has a reputation for crushing Telangana's "anti-establishment" media. His party reportedly controls most top TV news channels, and aggressive reporting on misgovernance could put you under police observation — or even land you in prison.
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