The Police chief of Andhra Pradesh makes an off the cuff remark about women’s dresses tempting rapes and that sets off a half hour discussion on CNN-IBN with none other than Sagarika Ghose (FTN January 5). That police chief received enough ridicule for his silly comments but it was enough cause for moraliser Ghose and a bunch of panelists to go on and on about Sheila, Munni, Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan, Red sarees… the whole lot. And, of course, the program is called ‘Face the nation’. There’s nothing like this to distract from every other issue of the day of any real consequence for the nation. Well nothing, unless it has something to do with an immoral deed by the BJP or an opposition party to the Congress. So, for the last two days most news channels have scavenged on the issue of Babu Singh Kushwaha being admitted to BJP after being sacked by BSP in Uttar Pradesh. Kushwaha was sacked from the BSP for alleged corruption and the very day after he joined BJP was raided by the CBI. Talk about timing! And the question three channels; NDTV, TimesNow and CNN-IBN, were asking was if BJP has lost the ‘moral ground’ on corruption. Alternately, they were also suggesting BJP had scored a ‘self-goal’.
What the media masks is the fact that the induction of Kushwaha into BJP received a lot of criticism from within the BJP itself, as also the RSS. Can you imagine that happening in the Congress or other party? Quite recently, Ajit Singh of RLD allied with the Congress for UP elections and was rewarded with a cabinet berth. The media merely glossed over this event as an ‘alliance’. Far from it! Ajit Singh is one of the most immoral power hunters. He has been with every party – Congress, BJP, BSP, SP, Janata Party and any other party you can name, just to be in power. That is within the moral standards of the media.
This is a tweet I sent out on December 20: “Nidhi Razdan:"There is nothing proved in a court of law against Chidambaram." Ooooh.. but when it comes to Modi... courts are not even needed”. Isn’t that nice? Kushwaha has been accused of corruption and the CBI has timed its raid to perfection. What about P. Chidambaram? The list of accusations against him now reads like a ‘troll of honour’. It starts with 2G Scam, then CWG scam, the vicious attack on Ramlila grounds leading to death of a woman, illegal arrest and detention of Anna Hazare, conflict of interest in covertly quashing an FIR against one of his clients. PC is also accused of having received huge amounts of bribes under the 2G scam. But no, for the media Chidambaram is an honourable man, especially for NDTV. PC doesn’t even need lawyers. The folks at NDTV do a good job of defending him where he happens to be a darling. And yes, the comparison to Narendra Modi is inescapable. The man is guilty a thousand times over of murder, genocide, communalism, polarisation when there isn’t a single FIR against him and no court has pronounced him guilty. These very channels hosted a rogue cop, Sanjiv Bhatt, as a great hero and whistle blower and replayed his calling Narendra Modi a “common criminal” over and over again. I guess that is within the ‘moraldom’ of media! I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to call Nidhi Razdan a journalistic bimbo, but she just follows the editorial policies and moral pursuits of NDTV.
Expectedly, Sanjiv Bhatt is now mired in a host of cases against him and the skulls and bones from his closet are tumbling out. Top Cop! Whistle Blower! Real-life hero (according to media Mulla Mahesh Bhatt, another darling of media) and a fighter for justice. The news channels, of course, are completely and shamefully silent on the truth about Bhatt. These stunning revelations come from none other than the wily old legal fox Ram Jethmalani: (From The Sunday Guardian, quotes are in blue):
“On 18 May he (Bhatt) sends a mail to Nasir Chhipa, who is supposed to be close to the Congress party, telling him, "I was told by Ms. Shabnam Hashmi (Senior Hate Engineer) that Home Minister P. Chidambaram can be influenced by pressure groups in the US. All appeals for the safety of witnesses, including myself, have not received the desired response from PC. You may have to work a little on this aspect...." (Mr Chidambaram, kindly note what the IPS officer you recently praised for insubordination thinks of you.)” To state that whatever Chidambaram touches or wherever his name crops up stinks would be an understatement. Well, did I miss the report on NDTV? That would be immoral for them to report. Never mind! Jethmalani further adds:
"When Shubhranshu Chaudhary (a journalist) shows reluctance to give media hype to his affidavit, the petitioner writes to him advising use of the media, and asks whether Chaudhary is more comfortable with Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep Sardesai? When Chaudhary's reluctance still persists, Bhatt writes to him, "My feeling is that we could let the press sniff it out and contact you. It will not only make a good story for them, but, make the print media to take notice of your affidavit and finally force the hand of amicus and Supreme Court to take notice and subsequent affirmative action... "I think we should play the media card and make it difficult for the other side. If you fear that amicus and Supreme Court will not take it seriously then media trick can be tried. I will be speaking with Rajdeep Sardesai tomorrow I will drop a line to him and let him follow up the lead." On 19 May, Bhatt emails Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN, telling him that he has information that a senior journalist has "filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 16th May, saying that he was with me when I had to leave for CM's meeting on 27-02-2002... Kindly confirm through your sources in Supreme Court..."
Rajdeep Sardesai, the man that heads the ‘whatever it takes and most awarded’ channel seems to be the favourite conduit for sewage of this top cop. Arnab Goswami is named like a guinea pig who can be tested. Not surprisingly, both Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai were the first ones to interview Bhatt after his bail out last October. And both unfailingly played his “common criminal” comment about Narendra Modi a million times. Very high moral standards indeed!
On the very day that these news channels were trashing the Kushwaha incident there was another news report that was buried in pages on the internet and news print. Not one mention, yes not one mention about an honourable mayor called Majid Hussain. He’s the new mayor of Hyderabad and has nothing less than seven cases against him. These seven cases include an attempt to murder, criminal assault and intimidation. Did we see that on any channel? At least I did not. Knowing the TV channels these cases are well within their moral standards. After all, since Barkha Dutt set up extraordinary moral and ethical standards in Radiagate we are now used to journalists even being involved in murder.
The recent announcement of investments by Reliance in the TV18 group is more bad news for viewers. The corporatisation of news will now be complete. If people were wondering why news channels more or less blacked out the KG Basic scam while making noises about the aviation scam a few months back, this explains. Nothing wrong in principle with the investment by Reliance except that our news channels will have more paymasters than before. Liquor and tobacco ads are banned in the media. But surrogate advertising has the liquor brands in your face all day long. Is that disturbing? Not at all, our news vendors and especially some anchors have been surrogate mothers for political causes, paid news and plants. NDTV is now famous for lobbying. Apart from the Radiagate episode many will remember NDTV campaigned for a Bharat Ratna award for M.F. Hussain which was silenced by strong protests from Hindus. Hmmm! But that didn’t stop them from lobbying for N.R. Narayanamurthy for President. NRN was earlier a director on the board of NDTV and as much a darling as Chidambaram. The Hoot is an e-magazine that often speaks the truth on media matters but also pulls pages without any reason. This piece about NDTV from The Hoot (August 2011) quoted by Techgirl makes interesting reading (Thanks to a commenter on this blog):
“The same channel also was orchestrating the candidature of one of their Directors for the post of President of India some time back. The person may be iconic and of impeccable credentials, but the channel still needs to let the public know of his particular relationship with it. Incidentally, no other channel was plugging for him so hard. One wonders how many viewers were aware of this when they were asked to vote on the campaign. While one is deeply appreciative of the commonsense of the person on the street in not falling for such campaigns, nevertheless the overall ethical issue remains. Think what would be said of Doordarshan if it ran an orchestrated campaign to promote one of the eminent directors on its board of governors! Such influence peddling would be unethical journalism by any standards”.
The Kushwaha incident is not going to pass away soon in the media. Back in 2009 the media went to town with the doctored videos of hate speeches by Varun Gandhi, a BJP member. Throughout that election season the Varun tapes were played out to cause damage to a particular political party. This time around, elections in UP and other states are great motivators for trumpeting morality in politics. The corrupt crooks behind the mask on your TV channels will be there to talk about it.