There is something like making a mistake. We all do. When it comes to a public figure or a journalist we temper the mistakes by using the line “error of judgement” or “bad judgement”. The discussion last night (November 30) on NDTV with Barkha Dutt and other renowned journalists like Dileep Padgaonkar, Sanjay Baru, Swapan Das Gupta and Manu Joseph (of Open Magazine that exposed the Radia tapes), moderated by Sonia Singh of NDTV was a disgraceful display by Barkha Dutt. And to call it disgraceful would be putting it mildly.
The shrill tone, the self-righteousness, the kicking and screaming, and the militant-like uncalled for attack on Manu Joseph was a horror show to say the least. Barkha Dutt was worse than an uncouth politician that usually appears on her shows. There shouldn’t be any doubt whatsoever that Manu Joseph did the right thing by publishing the tapes and the transcripts and Barkha had no business to demand on a reference first. There was nothing in the transcripts that she has denied or refuted. Had that been the case her grievance would have been valid.
Instead of humility, regret and remorse what was on display was utter shameless defence of unethical journalism on her part. It is Open Magazine itself which has accurately rebutted her entire defence and shown how hollow it is. Hartosh Singh Bal at OM has this to say about Barkha Dutt’s conversation with Nira Radia : “For any political journalist worth her salt, the alarm bells would have gone off at this stage, and should have led to one of the biggest stories related to government formation in this country: ‘Tata telecom PR chief handles negotiations for telecom portfolio.’ Did you happen to see this story on NDTV?” (Read his full article Here)
In an open letter to Barkha on this very blog (Here) I had mentioned Barkha may not be outright corrupt but an expression of regret over bad judgement could deliver redemption. But having seen the NDTV program last night I am now convinced her histrionics, arrogance and utter lack of decency, which permeate most of her programs cannot pass for journalism anymore. In contrast the other journalists on the panel last night conducted themselves with extraordinary professional skill, something that Barkha doesn’t appear to have learnt at any school of debate. At times, these journalists had to "counsel" an extremely agitated Barkha. A journalist that doesn’t understand the difference between legalese and ethics and insults the intelligence of both, the professional journalist and the common viewer should go.
Therefore, I have to strongly recommend NDTV to fire Barkha Dutt immediately and save themselves and protect the morale of others at the channel. Prannoy Roy is often referred to as the ‘father of Indian news TV’. If he doesn’t sack Barkha, he might see his legacy as the ‘father of the most corrupt news channel in India’