‘Abused, Insulted’: Telegraph Editor Opens Up on Babul Supriyo Row
The paper had said that Babul Supriyo demanded an apology from the editor for statements wrongly attributed to him.
“Nobody in power should be calling up editors and asking for apologies”, said R Rajagopal, editor of The Telegraph, after the newspaper published a piece on a conversation between him and BJP MP Babul Supriyo, involved in the Jadavpur University row of 19 September.
Speaking to The Quint, Rajagopal said there was an established process for anyone looking to register a dispute with something published in the paper.
“You either write a letter, and if the newspaper ignores it, then you take the legal route. But to call up somebody is wrong”, he said.
From Asking for an ‘Amicable Apology’ to A Shouting Match
An article published by the Telegraph on 22 September said that BJP MP and Union Minister Babul Supriyo called up the editor of the newspaper, Rajagopal, demanding an apology for a “statement wrongly attributed by the minister”. In the process, Supriyo also directed expletives and insults at the editor, he says.
“He said he wanted to discuss an ‘amicable apology’”, Rajagopal told The Quint. “When I asked him what for, he said it is because we said that he elbowed a person”, he said.
Rajagopal then clarified that the paper had reported no such thing. He also said that while Supriyo was polite initially, the exchange got heated as he kept insisting on an apology.
“It was not as if only the Minister was shouting. Even I was shouting because I got very angry because in whichever way you call up a newspaper asking them to apologise- whether you are polite or impolite, it can only be called as trying to influence”, said Rajagopal.
Supriyo, later in the conversation, said that his real problem was with the headline of the article.
“This is exactly why I told him that we can’t have this conversation over the phone. Because he will keep changing goalposts”, Rajagopal said.
‘Those in Power Use Tactics to Influence News’
“He used many other expletives for me, but I have not mentioned the personal insults in the article. The conversation should not be about me. It should be about the kind of exchange that was happening between a public figure and a journalist”, he said.
The editor also said that the larger point that the article was trying to make was that those in power are trying to use all kinds of tactics to influence news.
“I don’t think it is ethical journalism to fall for these tactics or even encourage them. I did not want to continue with the conversation at all. I wanted to cut it short”, he added.
“Some people have said that they know me as a very polite person, but in this conversation I was very firm. However, I did not use a single filthy word”, Rajagopal said, responding to Supriyo’s tweet where he had said that the editor used “filthy language” when speaking to him.
When asked why he decided to publish the conversation, he said it was because calling a newspaper “sold out” is charging at an entire institution.
“I represent an institution. If he is charging at an institution then I can’t let it go. I told him at that time itself that I’ll publish it and he even dared me to do the same,” he said.
According to Rajagopal, Supriyo said that he was recording their conversation, at which point he asked him to make it public.
Supriyo is yet to make any such recording public. The Quint has reached out to Supriyo for a copy of the recordings. This piece will be updated if and when it is provided.
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