Friday, January 19, 2007
Setting the record straight ...

Well the reaction to the Thaksin Shinawatra interview and my blog here on CNN.com has been pretty strong. I’d say you’re split 50-50 down the middle. Some of you hate me and think I failed in my job as a journalist, failed to ask the right questions, or simply should never have interviewed Thaksin in the first place. The other half of you seemly genuinely pleased and grateful.

So for those that persistently asked why I didn’t quiz Thaksin about the corruption charges, let’s set the record straight, shall we? None of you have heard or read the full interview so far -- it will be broadcast this weekend. What was broadcast and blocked this week was merely a two-minute excerpt.

In the full interview I repeatedly challenge Thaksin on the allegations of corruption, asking for example:

"What about the specific allegations against you of you know massive corruption in Thailand, of nepotism, of abuse of power of breaking multiple laws, what do you say to those charges?"

He answers and then I challenge him again …

"Well I mean you definitely for example appointed your cousin as the commander of the armed forces I mean that’s not in dispute?"

He answers and the once again I challenge him …

"But can you imagine in another country, Tony Blair for example, appointing his cousin to be the head of the army, it would be an outrage?"

He answers and once again I say:

"Is there not a conflict of interest though?"

I think you guys get the picture. I can’t post Thaksin’s responses here until the programme airs tomorrow. But I repeatedly challenged Thaksin about vote rigging, nepotism, his handling of the south, his handling of the war on drugs, I ask him specifically if he ever bent the rules.

You have to appreciate that Talk Asia is a programme which lasts just 22 minutes. I think in that time, I gave Thaksin a fairly thorough interrogation, while remaining balanced and fair. We had a lot of ground that we wanted to cover, so I couldn’t dwell for the full 22 minutes just on the corruption charges, but it would be totally wrong to suggest that I didn’t ask him questions about that.

I hope that assuages some of the anger on this forum. Feel free to keep posting. I’m glad the interview provoked a reaction anyway. Oh, and here is a cartoon of yours truly from today’s Nation. My wife says the ears are perfectly rendered by the artist. She is a cruel woman, that Mrs. Rivers!

After having seen the clip on the website, I have to say I'm not surprised that the clip of the interview was censored. You did come off in the clip like one of the earnest, swooning admirers of Thaksin rather than a professional journalist. Not your fault; blame the editors.

I think you, CNN, and all concerned would have been better served if the whole interview had been aired straight away or if some of the questions/answers re corruption allegations had been included to counterbalance the ex-PM's denials (we don't really need CNN to do interviews to get the scoop on the latter; we've become quite used to it in the last five years, not to mention the amazing U-turns that man can pull off).

A lesson for the future, perhaps.
Well, unfortunately I'll have to follow the reaction and transcripts of the interview on the web, once CNN Latin American feed doesn't broadcast Talk Asia. I just wonder why. A good and exclusive interview (and also the regular guests of the show) can't be seen by CNN viewers in LA. Too sad.
Clearly, your blog has become very popular, particularly among Bangkokian Thais. I feel there is an appreciation of freedom to express, even among those who are kind of angry... and in denial, whether they realise it or not. (It's nice not to be blocked, isn't it?). We all know that there is no forum in the country to voice your opinions freely, and I guess 'unoppressed'... I think a journalist is successful when he or she presents an interesting piece of 'truth', that is not 'prescribed' or 'chosen for cooperation'. Talk Asia talked with many prominent Thais before, including K.Apisit, K.Anan, K. Patarawadee. Why not K.Thuksin? You have done a good job in introducing this piece. I hope to comment more later after I watch Talk Asia this weekend. Obviously Dan, your blog is 'thought-provoking'. By the way, Bangkok Post just ran an interview article of Christiane Amanpour... CNN's correspondent. Many people in the capital do know things...
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