Diko leader and presidential hopeful Nicolas Papadopoulos on Thursday apologised for accusing a state broadcasting corporation anchor of taking instructions to undermine him through specific questions.
His public apology followed a strongly-worded statement by the Cyprus Union of Journalists, which censured him for his “inappropriate, unfortunate, and offensive” remarks during a morning news show on Tuesday.
In a tweet, Papadopoulos said that “mistakes can be made in a live discussion”.
“What I meant to say was that easy lines sometimes undermine constructive dialogue,” he said.
In a follow-up tweet, he added that he “had the courage to admit that my remarks to [anchor Stavros Kyprianou] was unfortunate”.
“Under no circumstances do I doubt his integrity.”
Earlier, the journalists’ union weighed in on the incident in a statement.
“Instead of answering the question put to him, Mr Papadopoulos replied to the journalist: ‘I realise that you have instructions from some (people) to ask these questions’,” the statement said.
“When the fellow journalist defended his professional integrity, Mr Papadopoulos repeated his assertion. The CyBC reporter defended himself once more, but Mr Papadopoulos insisted on his view a third time: ‘In some cases, you do not operate impartially.’”
The union suggested that if Papadopoulos believed the anchor’s attitude had been improper, instead of unfounded accusations, he should have referred the matter to the Journalistic Ethics Committee – “an option still available to him”.
“When journalists and politicians discuss issues publicly, both sides are judged,” the statement said.
“The former are judged for the questions they ask, the latter for their responses. Journalists’ questions aren’t characterised or categorised, they are just replied to! The easiest way to avoid a question is to deflect by apportioning ulterior motives to the person asking.”
Kyprianou was right to defend his professional integrity, the union said, but Papadopoulos “needs to reassess his attitude, since he described, offensively and obscenely, a journalist asking questions as guided and taking instructions”.
“A long campaign lies ahead, and the union will not allow journalists to be scapegoated due to flaring political passions,” the statement said.
“Any and all politicians exhibiting similar behaviour will be censured and condemned publicly.”