news Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | April 8, 2015 | 10:27 a.m. IST  A comment which was riddled with sarcasm by Union Minister VK Singh has now caused a row with the former Army General responding to sections of the media who criticised the comment by referring to the press as “presstitutes”. While overseeing the evacuation of Indians from Yemen, Singh was quoted by NDTV saying that “It is a difficult task, but if you talk of excitement I think it's looking less exciting than going to the Pakistan embassy”. While the report by the news channel added “quipped” at the end of his quote, Times Now tweeted about the comment adding a hashtag #VKDisaster, seemingly looking to attack the insensitivity of the quote. General VK Singh says Yemen rescue operation is not as exciting as his visit to Pakistan embassy. #VKDisaster — TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) April 7, 2015 Twitter was quick to pick up on the issue and #TimesNowDisaster started to trend on the social media website by Tuesday evening as users mocked the channel for failing to sense the sarcasm in Singh’s comments.   A tweet by VK Singh late on Tuesday though set the cat amongst the pigeons with the former Army man using the word “presstitutes” to refer to the channel, also mocking its editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami. Friends what do you you expect from presstitutes. Last time Arnab thought there was 'O' in place of 'E' #TimesNowDisaster — Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) April 7, 2015 And while sections of the political class were not too happy with the comment either, Times Now have gone on the offensive. Times Now Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami says “this is the filthiest language” he has heard in opposition to a story. Referring to Singh’s tweet, the channel has asked VK Singh to show when they misunderstood 'E' for an 'O' and have decided to take VK Singh's 'Twitter Abuse' head on. Meanwhile, the Broadcast Editor's Association has condemned VK Singh's tweet and called for action. Shekhar Gupta, consulting Editor at India Today said that he sees a pattern in intimidating the media. He has called for the Prime Minister to intervene or such comments could result in unleashing the mob on the media. Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wrote on his blog: "General Singh is not some anonymous twitter handle who can get away by spewing venom and abuse on the media. He is a senior member of the council of ministers who is expected to mind his language in a public fora like twitter. He has every right to feel that the media has been less than fair to him, but should he be calling the media 'presstitutes'? Sadly, Gen Singh seems to be taking his cue from the prime minister who has on several occasions called the media 'news traders', another offensive term popularised by right wing storm troopers on social media. "  This is also not the first time that Singh has used the word “presstitutes” to describe the media. The former Army General had used the term in February last year when The Indian Express had published the now controversial ‘army coup’ story. Singh was also in the midst of controversy in March this year when he tweeted about “duty” and “disgust” after attending the Pakistan Day celebrations, indicating that it was his job as part of the government to attend the gathering.  TNM's take:  We in the media in general and news networks in particular have not covered ourselves in glory by criticising Union Minister of State for Foreign Affairs V.K. Singh at a time when his work and that of India in repatriating people from Saan'a in Yemen has been unequivocally appluaded world-wide.  However, if journalists must be careful about what they say and report, so must ministers, especially V.K. Singh who has hit back at the media by calling them "presstitutes." This is not a dignified thing to say and in addition to lowering his own credibility, it also brings down the dignity of the office he holds. As Firstpost points out, Singh ended up sounding like a Twitter troll. Surely Sir, there are other ways of setting the media on a correction course - a clarification or even dignified rebuke would have been apt.    

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