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‘Independent journalism not about charming govts’: Washington Post’s riposte to BJP leader over Bezos jibe

BJP's foreign affairs department chief Vijay Chauthaiwale accused The Washington Post, owned by the Amazon CEO, of its "biased" coverage against India.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 18, 2020 7:09:36 pm
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A BJP leader got engaged in a Twitter spat with US daily The Washington Post after the former accused the Jeff Bezos-owned publication of its “biased coverage” against India. The remark came in the backdrop of the Amazon CEO’s recent visit to India where he promised to invest $1 billion in the medium and small enterprises.

During an event on January 15, Bezos praised India, saying the 21st century will be the Indian century due to its dynamic and energetic democratic setup. To this, BJP’s foreign affairs department chief Vijay Chauthaiwale took a swipe and said the Amazon CEO should intimate the same to his “employees in Washington DC” else his charm offensive was likely to be a “waste of time and money”.

“Mr @JeffBezos, please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise, your charm offensive is likely to be waste of time and money,” the BJP leader said.

The remark was seen as a dig at The Washington Post, which has recently published several articles critical of the Modi government on issues such as scrapping of Article 370 and the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

In a sharp retort, Eli Lopez, Senior Editor with The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, said, “Jeff Bezos doesn’t tell Washington Post journalists what to write. Independent journalism is not about charming governments. But there’s no question the work of our correspondents and columnists fits within India’s democratic traditions.”

This was followed by an exchange of verbal volleys between the duo, where the BJP leader accused the US publication of its “biased” coverage against India.

“I am not opposing Amazon as a company, in fact, I am a regular customer … Jeff Bezos should go home tell Washington Post what is his impression about India,” Chauthaiwale told Reuters.

“The Washington Post editorial policy is highly biased and agenda-driven,” he added.

In a statement to Reuters, The Washington Post said it “has covered India fairly and accurately, even when the government has imposed tight restrictions on the flow of information.” The Post’s Opinions department is independent of the news division and publishes different perspectives from within India and around the globe, the newspaper added.

Bezos received a cold shoulder from the government on his India visit, as none of the central ministers met the Amazon CEO amid calls of a boycott by small-scale traders. Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal said Amazon is not doing India “a great favour” by investing $1 billion in the country, and that the financial losses reported by the e-commerce company raise questions about its business practices here.

Bezos had also sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the meeting could not take place.

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