Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blackmail Not New To Media, Arnab

First, someone called Sten Lindstrom comes out with supposedly new revelations about the Bofors scandal. Chitra Subramaniam, who originally broke the whole story and followed it for long also surfaced after all these years to talk about it. Some in the Indian media were quick to dub Lindstrom the Swedish ‘Deep Throat’, after the famous Watergate Deep Throat (William Mark Felt). On a lighter side, they do share something in common though. The Watergate deep throat was named after a controversial porn movie titled ‘DeepThroat’ which was released in the same year as the Watergate burglary and the Swedish DeepThroat comes after the infamous Abhishek Manu Singhvi sex tapes. The remote similarity ends there. There’s just one small difference: the original DeepThroat led to a dozen or so convictions leading up to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The so-called Swedish DeepThroat is still where Bofors is – Zero convictions. Of the 64 crores of bribes in Bofors not a single rupee has been recovered, not a single conviction has happened and some of the players are dead. In contrast, by strange coincidence, another case of bribery involving Bangaru Laxman, former president of BJP, in a sting operation by Tehelka came to a conclusion. Today Bangaru was sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of Rs.1 Lakh, the same amount of bribe he has been convicted of taking.

The CBI court judge, sentencing Bangaru Laxman, said it is time to "shun" the "sab chalta hai" (It's OK, whatsoever!) attitude and courts should deal strictly with persons found guilty of corruption. With all due respects, your honour, most corruption cases don’t end up in courts, they are washed up by our govt and our media. Worse, in my belief the Bangaru Laxman case was one of a fake operation and more of ‘entrapment’ by a journal seeking ‘instant’ fame rather than genuine investigative journalism. It’s a classic case of journalism by ‘script writing’ rather than investigating actual events and wrong-doings. But that is not even the issue here.

Within hours of Laxman’s conviction our media was clamouring to equate Bofors with Bangaru. Rajdeep Sardesai, who called the 64 crores of Bofors scam “loose change” in comparison to current scams like 2G, suddenly found the 1 lakh bribe case similar to Bofors. He’s not the only one though. Arnab Goswami, who runs his own private court on TV, actually ran a debate “Bofors V Bangaru” on TimesNow on the night of Friday, April 27. The debate involved Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP), Vinod Sharma (Smirk Times), Manish Tewari (Head to Toe fame) and a couple more people. In the melee the discussion ended up in a question by Arnab to Lekhi: “Are journalists being accused of blackmailing?” (In the context of the Tehelka type spurious sting operations). Hmmm! Arnab shot that without thinking too much.

Long back I had narrated how media outlets approach corporate entities to get their share of ads that were released with a competitor. Nothing wrong with that, except that where companies were reluctant, the second-rung media threatened them with exposure of various misdeeds by the company. Not unusual considering most companies are in the practice of avoiding excise, customs or other taxes. The journals and journalists keep a dossier on the misdeeds of such companies and use it to blackmail them into running campaigns in their journals similar to the ones run in other media. This gets even better when the media outlet has juicy tidbits of the private lives of the CEOs or owners of businesses. Don’t be surprised if you even find govt officials or police officials under payroll of a media outlet. Once such officials are ‘sanitised’ they then remain obligated to leak news and confidential reports. Else!

One of the most glaring cases of journalists blackmailing a businessman comes from the house of Arnab’s own group – The Times Group. Sure, Arnab wasn’t associated with the group then but he’s seriously mistaken to imagine journalists don’t indulge in extortion and blackmailing. Here’s the interesting story:

Such spurious news has included gushing endorsements of flop movies, fashion and lifestyle products and the promotion of hotels and restaurants that enter into a payment arrangement with the organisation. The reader has no clue that the adulatory report is nothing but a paid advertisement masquerading as objective reportage or opinion. Even while the debate over the ethics of a newspaper 'selling news' was hotting up into a regular war of words between two of the country's top-selling English dailies, journalism was dealt another stunning blow. Last week, the Mumbai police arrested Rishi Chopra of The Economic Times along with an accomplice (a former journalist with another business daily) in an alleged extortion attempt. The duo was trapped accepting a Rs 700,000 bribe which was the second installment of a Rs 2.5 million payoff to kill a report about the shenanigans of one Poonamchand Malu of Malu Financial Services. Worse, the pay-off itself had apparently been haggled down from an initial demand of Rs 10 million to Rs 2.5 million. Although corruption in the media is no longer news, the actual arrest of two scribes and the sums involved, marked a new low in this once honourable profession”. There! That’s an extract from a report by Sucheta Dalal titled “Selling news or buying silence?” in March 2003. Do read the whole article, it truly exposes pathetic journalistic practices of Arnab’s group. Have these practices ended? Let Arnab verify and confirm they have.

In the post “India’s Biggest Mafia” I had written: "Look deep into our media.You will find extortion, blackmail, murder, connections with anti-national elements, black money. Everything you can associate with a regular mafia you will find in equal measure in the media too. But since they claim to be ‘God’s own messengers’ they will never expose their own mafia". Blackmailing is just a small part of our media’s operations even if Arnab finds it amusing.


  1. They way they played the media this week is amazing. One news to over shadow another and another one to do the same to previous. Joesph Goebbels would have been proud of Congess Media manager. he had done his feat in Dictatorship Congress is doing the same in Democracy. Thats a real fete.

    PS: Just joined twitter. i am having a time of my life out there. But still leaning to write on a tight budget of words. Easier to follow your thought there.

    Thanks for sharing your thought extensively with like minded ppl. Keep up the good work.

  2. Our Supreme Justice of India (SJI)made an ass of himself by running that spurious debate which lop-sided by pitting the CON Spokes person Madish Tiwari, Smirk Void Sharma , the other 2 pro CON panelists + SJI Arnab against Meenakshi. Yet, Meenakshi gave a mouthful to each one of them. Honestly speaking how on the earth they can equate Bangaru Laxman's 1 Lac 'sting' bribe with that of a real Rs.64 Crore pay-off scam of the CON's.These CON's and the paid media goons will never change.

  3. Ravinar, you missed mention of a relevant case in point here of the Deccan herald story which said that Tehelka co-owner and Tarun Tejpal's sister was involved in blackmailing then Goa chief minister Digambar Kamath. How well suppressed by the mainstream media. I am not sure I even saw it trending on Twitter. Link to your post below


  4. The Thin White Witch consorts with Kannada mutt leaders!!

    A desperate party with desperate measures....will the public bite?

    Waiting for your article on this!!

  5. Ravinar,

    In the context of Bofors, I remember reading a book written by the then Indian Ambassador to Sweden and serially published in Rajasthan Patrika. The book completely exposed R how desparately he was involved in blocking the investigation.
    I wonder why no one has mentioned about this.
    I would appreciate if you or someone locate it.

  6. There is a trinity which keeps the citizen's balls crushed,they are - Politicians,Bureaucrats and Industrialists/landed gentry.Now in the modern age before the advent of internet, there was a fourth dimension and that is print and television media.In an environment of crookedness, Indian media cannot be different.Arnab,Rajdeep or Barkha are just examples of media pimps and prostitues but then we can completely bypass them thro' the alternate "internet channels".I have stopped buying newspapers,stopped seeing 24/7 channels and even the Indian dominated sports channels like star cricket/starsports.The commentary I got watching the recent Australia vs India thro' web sky sports was far superior to Harsha and the other Indian idiots.I encourage more and more Indians to lookout thro' internet for news/views/sports/movies and enrich their lives avoiding the high level of mediocrity in our country.The conventional media is dead , the new generation don't watch it and it is a question of another 10 years when the current young generation becomes productive and opinion makers to bury the whole lot.They will by pass the conventional and in the internet unless journalists have credibility, they will be simply ignored.

  7. As always, well documented. But, arn't we missing the point? That how well entrenched the tentacles of powerful people are and how difficult it is for a well meaning public movement (IAC led by Anna) or a relatively less corrupt political party (BJP) to remove this malaise. Unfortunately BJP's conduct has been extremely disappointing these last few months. It is not able to rise beyond mere posturing. Its inability to end the internal fighting and put up a strong PM candidate (read NaMo) is beginning to give this perception among public that BDP is fast becoming the other side of Congress coin. And, that is Advantage Congress.

  8. I really enjoy when loud mouth Arnab, obnoxious Barkha, out of date Karan, toothless Rajdeep and Rajia Sultana Nidhi make fool of themselves. But again, we need to think why they do like that? The answer is simply - most of our MSM journals are corrupt from Top to Toe.

    Boss, keep exposing crook media and players. Your blogs are breeze of fresh air, in this rotting country.

  9. i didnt read comments of others. bt here are mine

    1. CBI = (ofcoz) Congress Bureau of Investigation

    2. Though on a very small level, i am a victim and i have come across people (mostly friends) who have been asked for paid Ad in news paper while blackmailing on some over hyped issue.

  10. I mirror urban lama's thoughts.....exactly !

  11. Dear Ravinar,

    Sometime in past I had the honor of listening to an RSS pracharak who had high resentment against Politicians. He simply mentioned " Politicians are like prostitutes who sells to highest bidder". When I hear someone chastising BJP about their mild response on the overall Media crookedness, I feel sad for those people. Not because I give a rat's ass to BJP but because of their naivety in expecting that much from a party whose whole growth trajectory has been to become a counter pole to Congress for past 3 decades. The RSS leaders know this very well & hence they simply use the BJP to spread Nationalism but by keeping a distance.

  12. Dear Ravi - As usual well done, nice observations.

    It was almost as if the MSM was waiting for something to come out against BJP to make it a Bofors Vs something. Bangaru episode was the perfect fit for the story. Both related to defence, both had case of greasing palms. But they conveniently overlooked that in Bangaru's case it was an entrapment and in Bofors it was saving Mr Q by the first family.

    But who in MSM will bother about such details. How on earth could Rs 64 crores bribe(1985-86 - so take price index and find current value) be equated with Rs 1 Lakh entrapment (10 yrs back may be equivalent to Rs 4-5 Lacs today), is beyond me. At best it is case of Bangaru wanting to make a quick 1 lac without having to do anything. Since there was no order, no company and hence he did not recommend anything to anyone.

    But that is MSM - if Congress is bad so is BJP is their refrain and they will never shift their course from this mindset.

    1. Every is forgetting the fact, Bangaru's episode did not involve
      any fraud of taxpayer's money! How can it be branded as

  13. Hi Raninar,

    Ive been following your blog for a while.

    just want to remind you about 'the telecast of cash for votes scam sting operation" by CNN IBN.

    The video was telecast the day when abhinav bindra won gold medal in Olympics. So people wont give importance to that video and will be enjoying abhinav bindras' gold medal.

    I just want you to write an article about these kind of dirty pratices by media.

    My english might be bad.


  14. There you go again! Defending the BJP. So what if it was entrapment, there was the intention to accept the money which Bangaru did.

    1. Entrapment of bangaru exposed that BJP, if given sufficient time in power, will end up like the congis under antonio.The bigger tragedy of BJP will be the trust the middle class hindus vested in them will be shattered.It is time the D4,Advani and Gadkari's contributions are scrutinised closely to find out whether they are really straight and honest as they are painted to be.I have a feeling they will come out with lot of dirt because the current shenanigans of the congis could not have blossomed without their connivance/active participation or as some are whispering in the internet corridor that all these "leaders" are being blackmailed.Whatever be the truth, they will not change the culture of India.Along with congis, the time has come to dump the top eschelons of BJP at least on the grounds of non performance.Middle class hindus who are screming on the internet need to realise this.

    2. It is only because of persons like you that the CON's are still successful in the age old " Divide and Rule" Policy. BTW, do you equate by and large blemishless rule of the NDA of 6 years with that of the CON rule of 58 years? The system is so corrupt that it cannot be cleansed in a short span of 6 years . BJP, you are equating with non-performance on what count? Grow up sir..All the BJP ruled states today are ahead in growth of all other states in the country.In the six years of rule of NDA , the country had pride and hope. Today , you see they put back the country by 20 years atleast and we are heading towards 1991 like crisis.

    3. Dear Muthu,

      I agree to what you say to a large extent. In fact the list of Congress blunders in past 50 years is so serious that we cannot compare them to anything.
      1) We cannot compare 1 lakh Tehelka to 60 Cr Bofors scam,
      2) We cannot compare Hundreds of communal riots in Congress rule all over India to 1 Gujarat riots,
      3) We cannot compare ethnic cleansing of Kashmir's Hindus, Bangladeshi Hindus, Horrors of Partition brought by Congress under Jawahar Nehru to anything in world,
      4) We cannot compare the fact that 3/4th India is still under poverty after 50 years of Single party Congress rule.
      5) We cannot compare the Indian Media who knows all this is still trying to compare the BJP with Congress. Only Traitors will do that.

  15. "BJP, you are equating with non-performance on what count? Grow up sir.." - I am a sports guy, when I am given an opportunity during a match, I will immediatly jump in and seize the moment.Now let us consider these specimens who call themselves BJP - This issue of 2G was screaming for intervention especially due to their prior experience in govt. they know exactly what was going on.Did they have the guts to intervene so that there is no whole sale loot before it took place or at least investigate later what went on, did they file cases in SC, did they at least get up and scream in Parliament.What these specimens are capable of?Can they get one prominent main stream media to write for them if they call themselves principal opposition? During that Thapar's interview, Did Jaitley has the balls to call a spade a bloody spade. What are they afraid of? are they themselves being black mailed?If so, how are they fit to rule us? If you want a new modern India from the dumps of congis corrupt culture, which is law abiding and equitable to all, you need new men and women in power who believe they can make a change.Look at these wimps? Do you have confidence in them?When congis is dumped, the time will come to dump the current leadership in BJP.We need 2 principal national parties which can fight each other on policies/principles and not on caste,religon,language or indulge in whole sale looting.My suggestion to you is think for yourselves what is right and proper not simply hold a placard and follow a procession.Education should make a difference.

  16. I have to clarify one point - When i talk of BJP leadership, I refer specifically to D4,Gadkari and whoever pass off as leaders from Delhi/UP.We need more of NAMO - people who have demonstrated performance not hot gas like AJ or Sushma and possibly emerging talents like Parrikar.You guys are more knowledgeable, you can pick out many more in BJP similar to NAMO.These are the guys who should be pushed forward to take the reins.Advani can remain elderly statesman, nothing more.The ideal candidate to become PM will be DrSwamy

  17. Dear Shiv,

    Although I agree to the overall Idea of bringing in forward the non-corrupt leaders from BJP instead of current BJP leaders who themselves have vested interest to take on the Congress, I cannot help but smell a rat here.
    1) We the people talk a lot about corruption & hence supported Anna Hazare wholeheartedly for Janalokapal. Did he got any support from any other party than BJP ?
    2) The BJP is a political party whose main agenda is to counter Congress as party of Governance. Do you think it can or will sacrifice & scuttle its basic agenda inorder to prove non-corrupt ? Grow up.
    3) If we are able to dislodge the Congress party & bring lesser evil, it would be a great achievement in itself. We the people or BJP cannot clean the whole Rot brought by Congress in 5 years. We need to create a system which will boot out any party on basis of performance & bring a better alternative. Is a time consuming task & just ridiculing BJP will not help much.

  18. Good article. Nicely done. I would definitley say that one pillar of our democracy which is journalism has failed miserable in recent times. Everything has turned out to be money making machines. Its high time that seperation of duty be implemented in journalism. The owners of the media house, who would definitely have a commercial intrest (and should have), and the actual editorial team should be seperate. Journaists should have no commercial intrest with the doings of the media house. They should respect their profession as it is a pious profession and should refrain from misinforming or not informing.

  19. Hello, There is no dearth of Arnabs, Rajdeeps, Barkhas and such like on the glamorous English News TV circuit. Like their masters - the Head Honchos of Business houses that run the channel or the Patron Politicians; these anchors are Arrogant to say the least. These heroes and heroines spew venom; play favourites; provide plugs and in general pontificate from a high pedestal daily. Is that journalism? It is anything but that. And going by Mr. Samir Jain's own admission, Times of India is a Product and not a Newspaper anymore. Indian Express is not any different and God alone can save Hindustan Times with Vinod Sharma as its Political editor. There are many others and the list is too long and not realy worthy of any mention. So, we can expect only kitsch and drama under the garb of Journalism and they will only misinform...'cause that's their true calling. KRV

  20. My dear friends, what is your take on a tainted industrialist like Arun H. Firodia getting the highest civilian Award of Padma Shri ?

    Why I call tainted is because he & his company are guilty of fraud and cheating amounting to $ 50 Million of some 30 Public Sector Banks Loan money taken for his his two wheeler hire purchase business and diverted to other business divisions.

    Their Criminal Special Leave Petition is even rejected by the Supreme court of India.

    Read the full story with all proofs and court orders download links here


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