In Defense of the Devils Advocate

Karan Thapar is one of the toughest journalists to be a part of the Indian Media. I know people who hate Karan Thapar for what he is, for he is a wee bit too assertive on his candidates, he is even harsh at times. But that’s alright, ask any journalist and he will tell you, one can never make everyone happy. It’s the call of this profession, you make enemies as much as you make friends — in fact, maybe more.

Karan Thapar is not always an overly aggressive interviewer. There are times when he needs to be harsh but then it’s the case of fighting iron with iron.

For example, the interview on CNN-IBN tonight, in which he had a tête-à-tête with The Supreme Court’s Senior Lawyer Ram Jethmalani. Now, Jethmalani, as I know, likes to come on TV, loves to grab attention and has been involved in “startling revelations”, but lately this seems to be coming at the cost of his morality, ethics and what not.

That is the point of the whole interview. That is the nucleus.

Little doubt in my mind that this was one of the most explosive interviews taken by Karan Thapar. Some Excerpts:

Karan Thapar: You have been there several times as a customer.

Ram Jethmalani: I have seen Tamarind Court once.

Karan Thapar: Several times you have been to Tamarind Court. Several times you have been to Tamarind Court. You have been seen by people in Tamarind Court and you have been to Tamarind Court to even ask for drinks when drinks weren’t available.

Ram Jethmalani: No. No. No.

Karan Thapar: Yes. Yes. Yes.


Karan Thapar: Do you regret the collapse in your standard?

Ram Jethmalani: I am sorry. I regret the collapse of the character of people like you that you try to please some people and you are here to please them and not conduct a legitimate gentlemanly interview.

Karan Thapar: If I am asking questions that are so preposterous, why are you losing your temper?

Ram Jethmalani: I must lose my temper. I am entitled to lose my temper.

And then the big one:

Karan Thapar: But the point I am making is a simple one. There may be many things in papers that you have alleged have been published. You are using them as your defence, but do you have to fall so low to use every dirty trick. That’s the point I am making. Are there no principles that you uphold? The morality you observe.

Ram Jethmalani: I am sorry, Karan. You are taking advantage of my hospitality. You are in my house that’s why I don’t want to tell you that. You are falling to low of every kind of standard of morals of an anchor and a television interviewer. You are taking advantage of the fact that you are in my house and that you are my guest. Otherwise, I would throw out somebody here.

Though words shall not recreate and do justice to the intensity of the interview, I still urge you not to miss the full text version of the interview here.

Thapar treads dangerous paths, igniting the minds of the people he interviews in their own homes, provoking them to an extent as witnessed here. But, there is an element of confidence that never eludes him. I understand the tremendous amount of research he must be conducting before any interview. But this is not about the basics of journalism, we are way past that. This is something else and I think his experience serves him well.

I saw Karan Thapar once, I think it was back in 1997, while we waited outside Delhi’s only multiplex for a movie to start. He seemed to have no company, just like me. During those twenty minutes of waiting, a nervous I, toyed with the idea of talking to him but ultimately decided against it. I think the only thing that prevented me from talking to him was his on-screen persona. For twenty minutes, a black suited Thapar and I wasted time, together.

God, what would I not give today, to have a five minute talk with him.

3 thoughts on “In Defense of the Devils Advocate

  1. O, that was a deadly interview. Karan Thapar is okay, but he shouldn’t interrupt when the other person is talking. Tim Sebastian too used to do that in Hard Talk. One should give the other person to state his viewpoint.

  2. we know that politicians are corrupt, but then thats not a way to treat a senior citizen.
    In the name of interview one should not forget the manners and respect, i have seen Karan thapar just making very blunt statements and quotes which is usually been published by the media. Media at this generation dont report news they creat news.
    he doesnt give any chance to make thier point, and most of the time all his aurguments just end abruptly without any conlusion..!!! i thnk Karan is going way off the board. He has a very pseudo attitude….. Karan needs a very tight slap..!!! and needs to be told to start respecting his guests…!!!

  3. Karun goes into the interview clearly with an agenda to slander and vilify whoever he has targeted.
    His ‘interview’ is nothing but a thinly veiled ad hominem attack(s) in the guise
    of an professionally disguised interview.
    The tactics are cowardly and as all bullies he backs down when getting push back.

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