Reality Check India

Karan Thapar meets Modi

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 21, 2007

The Gujarat CM Narendra Modi walked out of an interview with Karan Thapar less than 5 minutes into the program ‘Devils Advocate’ for the private news channel CNN-IBN. See here for details.

Karan Thapar is usually pretty sharp. He is one of the best we have in India. However, in this instance he failed to keep his guest.

1. You had Modi in the interview chair. He was yours for the next 30 minutes. That is something many other news channels would die for.

2. You had many other things to ask him that people want to hear. The dissidents in his party, Kesubhai Patel, the economic achievements and so forth. You never got to that part.

3. The secret is to keep the sensitive parts to the end of the interview. This way you cover all the ground you want and have him walk out at the 25th minute. You would have succeeded as a journalist because people got to hear his views on everything. You tripped up at the start.
4.Larry King for example interviews many types of characters, he however knows where to draw the line and not allow his guest to walk out (which would qualify as a failure). CNN-IBN’s parent channel would certainly not make it a headline !

Why did Modi walk out ?

Karan thinks that he was not ‘rude or aggressive’.

“I actually don’t know why Modi stopped the interview. I wasn’t rude or aggressive in my tone. It seemed like it could be an opportunity for him to lay to rest the ghost that has been troubling him for five, possibly six years. But all I can guess it that either I touched a sensitive point, a raw nerve or I worried him of what was to follow and he anticipated a bigger problem,” Karan Thapar said on CNN-IBN.


He is right. I do not think Karan Thapar was rude or aggressive. So why did Modi walk out ?

Reality Check thinks : Karan Thapar failed to judge Modi’s response right in the beginning of the interview !

The following sentence is the culprit :

.. despite that people still call you, to your face, a mass murderer. And they accuse you of being prejudiced against Muslims? Do you have an image problem?

I have said many times in the past, I continue to be amazed by how BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Arun Jaitley, Rudy, do not respond when a Congress leader or a media anchor refers to Gujarat as a genocide, pogrom, (and more recently a holocaust). They do not even respond when Congress spokesperson like Smt Jayanthi Natarajan call Modi and even Advani guilty of this genocide. Their defence mechanism it simply to bring up the anti-Sikh riots. This is as-if two wrongs make a right.

Unfortunately, Modi does not seem to be from that stock. To call him a mass murderer on national television (even if couched in an indirect reference) – could be considered to be defamatory in nature. There is nothing Modi could have said, given his limited English verbal skills – that would have helped. For Modi, the ‘upside potential’ for this interview was very low. Most guests would have walked out if this was the tone laid out at the beginning of the interview. A journalists’ goal is to complete the interview and extract as much as possible from the guest without him walking out on you. Karan Thapar who is usually an expert in this – sadly failed to read Modi correctly.

Call Sonia Gandhi and drill her about her citizenship issues or about her educational qualifications, call Karunanidhi and ask him to respond to people who claim that he is guilty of murdering Rajiv Gandhi, they will all walk out. I would agree with them and attribute it to a failure on the part of the host.

Let us come back to the ‘mass murderer’ part. Modi has not been convicted of mass murder, nor are people calling it to his face as claimed by Karan Thapar.

Do hosts in other countries throw such questions at their guests ? Can Larry King ask George Bush if he is responsible for the heartless murder of gullible young American soldiers in Iraq and ask him to respond ? No, this is serious defamation. They would have a libel case on their hands in no time.

John Clark filed a defamation lawsuit against the Larry King show – merely because some tickers were shown at the bottom of the screen that were defamatory in nature. The case details are here. More about US Libel Laws as it applies to the press.

So, the moral of the story is. News anchors and interviewers in India, please moderate your language. Use the word accused or alleged in the absence of a conviction. Do not use words like mass murderer, holocaust, genocide – unless the target is legally accused of those crimes. We understand your eagerness, but do not trip over it yourself.

Blogosphere links :

Offstumped has a post here


36 Responses

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  1. axea said, on October 21, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Felt wonderful to read such a balanced article.Must say quite brave of you to express your viewpoint which goes contrary to the prevailing environment in the country in which Modi bashing is oh – so fashionable.

  2. Sri said, on October 21, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Brilliant post RC!

    CNN-IBN has mischievously left Modi’s parting words un-translated.
    He said something about maintaining “dostana”(friendship).

    It’s a pity that in this great “democracy” we boast about, we don’t have a single right-wing media organization of note.(Pioneer is too insignificant to influencing public opinion)

    • jaya singh said, on July 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      I think Mr. thaper insulted Mr Modi u can’t say anything to a respectful just because we have freedom of speech media is shattering Modi’s image and is not good for democracy

  3. pragmatic said, on October 21, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Modi’s recent speech in Hindustan Times summit – too good

  4. […] Check’s excellent post on this issue is bang on […]

  5. Amit Shindore said, on October 22, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Reminds me of the movie Nayak; how Anil Kapoor nails the CM Amrish Puri…

    • Shyam Sagar said, on July 9, 2012 at 4:23 am

      hahahahaha.. Cant stop laughing.. Karan Thapar is an ass.. He is nothing compared to Modi..

      • gaurav said, on June 19, 2013 at 5:42 am

        Modi=Amresh puri of nayak.idiot..Modi means Business..times magazine..Thapar is nothing but jerk..

  6. Abhinav said, on October 22, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Sometimes the Indian media goes way too overboard with banal issues. This is just another of those cases. To be frank over the last 2-3 years, news channels have started bordering on the insane. It is becoming extremely difficult to keep on one channel for more than five minutes. All news is some baba screwing up people’s faith, children getting stuck in wells (if I recall, one of them died possibly because of suffocation from all the TV cameras), and some more stuff like that. Where is the news?
    Post the 20-20 match last weekend, one full hour was given on the “possible” affair of MS Dhoni and Deepika Padukone.

    India unfortunately has the maximum number of 24 hour news channels in the world. I guess they should be made reverse pay channels. We ought to be paid to watch these channels!

  7. […] made news for walking out on an interview with Karan Thapar a raging debate ensued on this blog and others on the biased role of the media with even a demand for right wing TV in India along the lines of […]

  8. Reason said, on October 23, 2007 at 6:53 am

    From the transcript, it is clear that Karan Thapar repeating the ‘mass murderer’ line is not where Modi ended the interview. Modi ends the interview when Karan asks Modi to ‘express regret’ for having been a ‘mass murderer’.

    The sequence from the transcript is –
    Karan repeats the ‘mass murderer’ line, claiming ‘people’ call him ‘mass murderer’.
    Modi refutes that, points out the claim of ‘people calling him mass murderer” is hollow.
    Karan repeats the claim on supreme court observations.
    Modi refutes that, asks Karan to prove if any of that is found in the court orders.
    Then Karan asks Modi to ‘express regret’. In Karan’s own words –
    ” Why can’t you say that you regret the killings that happened? Why can’t you say that may be the government should have done more to protect Muslims?”

    You call the man a ‘mass murderer’. He refutes that. You then ask him to express regret for being a mass murderer.

    For those who say Modi should still not have walked out – how exactly do they think Modi should have responded to this ‘suggestion’ to ‘regret’ being a ‘mass murderer’?

    There are other numbnuts out there who take pleasure in comparing this interview to a movie sequence of a journalist grilling a politician. No wonder the english news media suck big time – they cater to *these numbnuts*.

  9. Jai_Choorakkot said, on October 23, 2007 at 7:27 am

    I havent seen this interview, but from the transcript it looks like Karan Thapar is just asking him to regret the killings. I dont know that its possible to just regret mass murders or that such regret makes it any better to be mass murdered.


  10. realitycheck said, on October 23, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    >> how Anil Kapoor nails the CM Amrish Puri >>

    Not really. Anil Kapoor kept his guest, Thapar did not. This is a professional failure, whereas Anil Kapoor was a success. See ?

  11. realitycheck said, on October 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    >> I dont know that its possible to just regret mass murders or that such regret makes it any better to be mass murdered. >>

    Good point.

    The media is taking the following line : Let us get Modi and the BJP for genocide /holocaust – or let us die trying.

    If you insist on obtaining a grand larceny conviction for a pickpocket. Guess what will happen : the offender is going to get away (or in India) too much time will elapse and the offender will die of old age.

  12. Jai_Choorakkot said, on October 24, 2007 at 8:50 am

    “…a grand larceny conviction for a pickpocket …”

    I really wouldnt put it that way, I believe Modi has much to answer for. I believe the Guj govt is going slow with criminal proceedings post-riots, and its being reported even colluding with the rioters; if so that alone is sufficient reason to dismiss it- forget abt anything with the riots itself.

    The only demur I have is with the mass-murderer, holocaust, genocide tagging. The tagging doesnt hide real issues though.

    I do believe no state govt has been particularly good at riot-control, even ‘secular’ ones- maybe as you pointed out, in crisis the forces work to preserve the key assets (which apparently include themselves) and leave you and me in the lurch!

    But even by these abysmal standards, Guj 2002 stood out.


  13. Rajesh said, on October 24, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    I find your article very balanced. I liked reading the article very much. I don’t know if you would agree with my view that Modi is a very good chief minister, and I don’t think the riots are a “blot” in our nation’s history.

    I personally think “ace” journos like Mr.Thapar and Mr.Sardesai crossed the line of un-biased reporting a long time ago. Now, they seem to have crossed the line of respectful interaction with their guests.

    As a viewer, I don’t see the program because I want the anchor to vilify his guests. I hope Mr.Thapar learns his lessons from this interview. If he doesn’t, I think he should be sent along with his Mr.Sardesai for a short workshop in US on sensible journalism.

  14. Jai_Choorakkot said, on October 26, 2007 at 6:14 am

    Tehelka has released a sting news that rather makes it clear that Modi would be more responsible and more directly than is being made out for the riots.

    These are insiders, VHP guys that declare how they got “a free hand for 3 days” and “helpful police cooperation”. I havent all the details but its enough to make me regret any reconsideration of Modi. He should face charges and come clean if indeed this is trumped up.


  15. Kumar said, on October 26, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    LOL…. those who had “free hand for 3 days” took 5 years to hear their ‘inner voice’? Boy do I have a bridge to sell you guys.

  16. Nofal said, on October 31, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Whatever be the case, people does not like to hear killings against muslims. People in the world Muslims ONLY to be the killers.

    When innocent people are killed in Iraq and Palestine, we talk about the “young american soldiers” who are killed (so mentioned by the author here too)

    When Godhra and “mass murdering” is mentioned, we are not looking at the “murdering” of poor families who were slaughtered. We are trying to keep the ass of Modi safe, who was the father of Godhra event.

    Thats this world!

  17. kaushik said, on November 17, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I m very young to give comment on this topics.I am not blaming media but why media always want to create an imbalance towards the progress of our country.As Mr. Karan thapar in this particular interview has said that Gujrat is one of the most flourishing state of our country which is due to Mr. Narendra
    Modi and he is also blaming him as a mass murderer .What this is?.When u will go to work good, u have to face many opposition and in some situation when u r at such a high post it is quiet dificult to always take a decision which suits to all the people.Every time u get some support & some opposition.At present stage when the thing are going with a good pace,is it good to remmember the past.Who knows whose mistake was their in Godhra riot.
    It is not worth while to ask him such type of question.
    I don’t think that Mr.Modi walked out because he had no answer but he didn’t want to get in that sensitive type of debate.

  18. Amir Bhaiody said, on December 23, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    Modi is a mass murderer… He will not going to live for 1000 years… Day is waiting for him Insha Allah… He has to answer for all this actions… on that day nobody can raise his voice to support Modi…. The day is still waiting… remember he is alone in Kabar/burned…

  19. Amir Bhaiody said, on December 23, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Hai RSS dogs… first of see… Karan just asked Modi to convey the regrets for killings… for this question that dog walked out… see how the dog he is??? Still the day is waiting…….

  20. Amir Bhaiody said, on December 23, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    RSS dogs…. for all of you… the day is waiting…. still all of you have to answer to Almighty… DAY IS WAITING>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  21. vip said, on December 25, 2007 at 10:00 am

    kute ke bacche amir bhaiody
    modi jit gaya gujarat me
    ab jitega hindustan me

  22. vip said, on December 25, 2007 at 10:04 am

    hey sun sale AMIR
    sale tum log khuda se darne ki baat kar rahe ho?
    haramio sari duniya me aap logo ne kahar chhaya he.
    terrorist salo
    desh ke gaddaro
    tum log log baat kar rahe ho khuda se darne ki.

  23. achyut said, on December 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    karan thapar is a big dog he allways barks and dosent listens to any one he should be punished to provoke terrorisum

  24. achyut said, on December 27, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    karan is a big DOG he all ways barks barking is his business go on barking barking

  25. achyut said, on December 27, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    karan thapar should be punished we HATE KARAN he is big fool

  26. […] made news for walking out on an interview with Karan Thapar a raging debate ensued on this blog and others on the biased role of the media with even a demand for right wing TV in India along the lines of […]

  27. XYZ said, on March 4, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    well said !!!
    but this cant change the ground reality !!!
    the interview would not’ve been a balanced one without touching upon the single most extraordinary thing which mr modi committed or the most important achievement which mr modi iz acclaimed of,…. dont v’ve common sense?
    if that remark was incorrect…modi shud’ve said something ta defend himself…
    it was very appropriate and correct on part of Mr Karan Thapar to raise that issue…coz v’ve been waiting 4 an ans to that question ryt 4m 2001…

    well said KARAN THAPAR
    u ver sagacious enough ta pose those questions, that portrayed the evil and guilt in modi…..which he was hiding since he organised the “GUJRATH POGROM”

  28. Irfan said, on June 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Karan Thapar is one of the ‘sharpest’ and the best we have in India??????

    Hello… ??? In the first place the man lacks talent, is not un-biased, cannot offer intelligent well-informed perspective. Find out how he made it to journalism (surely some Vaastha as we call it in the middle east) and I am sure this happens in India.

    As for the rest for the rest of your observations… if you feel Karan Thapar is the best…. forget the rest

  29. Veola Molder said, on April 27, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

  30. SN said, on July 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Simply.. Karan is a moron.. a Looser.. a fucking bastard..

  31. Seasons said, on October 30, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Best you should make changes to the post subject Karan Thapar meets Modi Reality Check India to something more generic for your blog post you write. I enjoyed the post nevertheless.

  32. Modi US Visa said, on January 9, 2014 at 7:27 am

    We have launched a petition to request President Obama to reconsider US Administration’s stand on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, India.

    Please visit to review and sign this petition.

  33. Saikat Madhu said, on June 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Yaar VIP dont get angry on Amir Bhaiody as they themselves say that their god has said to do jehad by killing NON MUSLIMS…………….Now a person who worships such a god who promotes killing……what the hell do you expect from such a guy……Modi has won yet again and being made the prime minister of our country not by sheer chance but by love and faith of us indians……leave aside this muslim asshole as they are renounced for their terrorism activities……Fear yourself and improve yourself you muslim cowards…..The whole world has got fed up with your nusense…… if this keeps on continuing then the whole world including the christians,hindus,jews will kich your aurse in such a way that your balls will fly to the MOON and your ALLAH will fall in HELL…….Dont test our patience

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