BJP accuses Jeff Bezos-owned The Washington Post of 'biased' coverage; newspaper's editor hits back, says 'independent journalism not about charming govt'

  • The Washington Post’s senior global opinions editor Eli Lopez had an online spat with BJP’s foreign affairs chief Vijay Chauthaiwale, who slammed newspaper's editorials, claiming the media house is biased towards Pakistan and overtly critical of India

  • Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, has been criticized by the BJP officials for their editorial policies for claiming to paint India in a bad light

  • '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' Lopez tweeted in reply

Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned The Washington Post’s senior global opinions editor Eli Lopez had an online spat with BJP’s foreign affairs chief Vijay Chauthaiwale, who slammed the newspaper's editorials, claiming the media house is biased towards Pakistan and overly critical of India.

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post,  has been criticized by the BJP officials for their editorial policies, which they claim are skewed to paint India in a bad light.

The saffron party on Friday slammed editorial policies of the Post, even as Bezos' e-commerce firm Amazon announced plans to create a million jobs in the country by 2025.

"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." Chauthaiwale said there was "a lot of problems" with the newspaper's coverage of India, but gave no examples.

 BJP accuses Jeff Bezos-owned The Washington Post of biased coverage; newspapers editor hits back, says independent journalism not about charming govt

"Jeff Bezos, please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise, your charm offensive is likely to be waste of time and money," Chauthaiwale wrote on Twitter along with a video where Bezos is heard praising India during his visit, saying the 21st century will be the Indian century and calling the country’s dynamism and energy “something special”.

To which, Lopez responded clarifying that Bezos did not dictate what The Washington Post gets 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" he tweeted.

The BJP leader responded to the tweet saying that he never said Bezos should tell The Washington Post what to write. "I just requested him to tell his employees the same things what he talked about India in Delhi. Isn’t it reasonable?" the BJP functionary added.

“Do not give sermons. I ask the prominent Indian columnist about a specific case. Either confirm or deny. By the way, your silence is interpreted as confirmation," continued the BJP official.

The BJP leader then went on to accuse the media house of biased reporting, alleging that The Washington Post has not published any articles against Pakistan. "By the way, isn’t it true that your editor edited/deleted all anti-Pak references from an invited column of a well-known Indian columnist so that he withdrew the article from WaPo and published it elsewhere?" he replied, pointing to a slope.

Lopez dismissed the accusation saying it was untrue. "We have published many articles critical of Pakistan. However, some authors do not want to be edited. They expect publications to publish what they write, untouched and unchallenged. If an author does not want to go through. After our rigorous process, you are welcome to go elsewhere."

"I see you have no problem telling this Washington, DC employee what to do or how to interpret what I’m writing. You don’t need any help," added Lopez.

“That means you accept that WaPo actually did it. I’m resting my case,” said Chauthaiwale.

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.

Chauthaiwale has in the past criticized foreign media’s reporting, including on the disputed Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan, saying coverage has been biased against Modi.

On Thursday, Bezos attended a company event in Mumbai with Bollywood actors such as Shah Rukh Khan and said the company would "double down" its investments on its video streaming service, Prime Video.

But the event was largely overshadowed by comments from India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal, who raised questions about the company’s business practices while addressing a security conference in New Delhi and said Amazon had done no big favour to India by announcing a $1 billion investment.

With inputs from Reuters

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Updated Date: Jan 18, 2020 19:41:30 IST