US spokesperson loses temper with journalist over Syria questions

Washington, Nov 18 (IANS) A US government spokesperson appears to have lost his temper while being questioned about the situation in Syria by a reporter from Russia Today — a state-owned outlet.

Correspondent Gayane Chichakyan asked spokesperson John Kirby to give details on the bombing of “five hospitals and at least one mobile clinic” in Syria which he cited reliable aid organisations as having reported as targeted during renewed bombing of rebel areas by the Syrian government and its Russian allies this week.

Kirby, who said he did not have the specifics in front of him, told the reporter after repeated requests for specific names and locations of the hospitals to direct her questions to the aid organisations themselves, or the Russian Defence Ministry.

“You work for Russia Today, right? Isn’t that your agency?” he asked Chichakyan.

“And so why shouldn’t you ask your government the same kinds of questions that you’re standing here asking me?… Why don’t you question them about their information and where they’re getting it? And why don’t you question your own Defence Ministry?” he said.

Chichakyan repeated that she would need specifics to put any allegations to other sources when the another journalist Matt Lee intervened.

“Please be careful about saying ‘your Defence Ministry and things like that. She’s a journalist, she’s just like the rest of us are’,” he said to Kirby.

“From a state-owned outlet,” Kirby replied. “I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.”

Russia Today later said that a representative from the US State Department had apologised to Chichakyan and provided her with the details she had requested on the alleged hospital bombings which “did not lay blame on any party for the alleged strikes”.