Was there any need for the PMO to defend criticism by the Washington Post article? However, its communications advisor tried and in the end, all the PMO managed was to get a 'sorry' from the author and that too not for the article but for a technical issue of his website
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has lodged a formal protest with Washington Post for an article that had criticized prime minister Manmohan Singh, terming it as “unethical and unprofessional” conduct of the journalist, Simon Denyer. Simon is also the India bureau chief of Washington Post.
In a letter, Pankaj Pachauri, former journalist with NDTV and now communications adviser to the PMO, said, “...the story was ‘totally one-sided’ as the journalist ‘never’ got in touch with the PMO for its version.”
Here is the letter written by the PMO and point-by-point reply by Simon Denyer, the author of the article. Both the letters are also available on Washington Post’s blog.
PMO: Despite all lines of conversations open, you never got in touch with us for our side of the story though you regularly talk to me about information from the PMO. This story thus becomes totally one sided.
Simon: I requested an interview with the PM on three occasions, and also with TKA Nair, Advisor to the Prime Minister, and with Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. Those requests were either ignored or declined.
PMO: You have been telling the media here in India that your request for an interview was declined though the mail below says clearly that the interview was declined “till the Monsoon Session” of the Parliament which gets over in two days.
Simon: When I made my final request for an interview with the PM in July, I was told on July 30 “The PM has declined all interview requests till the Monsoon session is over.” At that stage the current session of parliament (known as the Monsoon session) of parliament had not even begun. There was no mention of the possibility of an interview afterwards. In any case my story touches on the fact that parliament has been adjourned every day throughout the current session by opposition calls for the PM to resign, which is a story I felt should be told, interview or not.
Indeed, we remain extremely interested in speaking to the prime minister.
PMO: When I rang you up to point this out, you said sorry twice though you tell the media here that you never apologised. Your website where we could have posted a reply is still not working, 11 hours after you said sorry the third time for its inaccessibility.
Simon: My apology was for the fact that the website was down and the PM’s office could not post a reply directly. As soon as the problem was fixed, I informed them. I stand by the story.
PMO: The former media adviser to the PM Dr Sanjaya Baru has complained that you “rehashed and used” an eight month old quote from an Indian magazine.
Simon: I spoke to Dr Baru personally on the telephone during the reporting for the story. He confirmed that these sentiments were accurate.
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