This is the third edition of India’s Worst Journalists poll; the Razzies for the worst in the business. The poll is conducted every two years (Previously 2010 and 2012). The term “journalists” is being used only technically as people have coined many other names for these unworthies: “Paid media”, “brokers” and even “pimps”. It’s an election year and most of these unworthies will be seen campaigning heavily for the non-performers and the corrupt. That the poll has grown in popularity can be measured by the fact that in 2010 it was just a panel of 7 who picked the list, in 2012 there were 938 voters and this year there are 9429 voters.
A word about those who exited from the 2012 list: Arnab Goswami may not have won too many back-scratching industry awards but has earned a lot of respect for his integrity if not for his style of TV shows. Vinod Sharma, the HT mouthpiece for Congress, has lost in prominence and therefore wasn’t considered worth the trouble. Vir Sanghvi too has lost all standing as a journalist and the former Radia-stenographer makes some back-door appearances on TV and nothing more. Shekhar Gupta didn’t make it to the winners list probably because he is not in the news anymore and there weren’t any sensational “Raisina hill” type blunders. This is probably because he had to give up overall management of Indian Express and retain his job as editorialist. Poll results and tabulation are appended to this post. Here are India’s Worst Journalists 2014 (2012 ranking in brackets after name):
10. S. Varadarajan (New entrant)
Till recently S. Varadarajan or “Varadabhai” as I fondly call him, was the editor of ‘The Hindu’ which is famous for its anti-Hindu articles. Lately, Varadabhai is a TV panellist who helps to continue pounding the redundant theory that Modi abetted the 2002 riots. He came out strongly in support of Rahul Gandhi’s bogus allegations on January 27 with Arnab Goswami. Incidentally, RG stated journalists told him Gujarat govt was involved in the riots. I guess RG just missed naming Varadabhai directly. Peddling opinions as news articles was one of the reasons the anti-Hindu claimed he was sacked from the newspaper. The most hilarious article carried in the The Hindu under Varadabhai was one which more or less claimed the “masculine pose” by Swami Vivekananda was one of the causes of rapes in India. So if Varadabhai ever strikes that pose I don’t want to venture a guess on what’s on his mind.
9. Kumar Ketkar (9)
KK stays where he was last time. He retains his old habits of hate-RSS, hate-Hindutva and anything remotely connected with BJP. Of course, most would remember he’s also a former speech writer for Congress. Lately, he’s an “acting” defence lawyer for the AAP party. Following the anarchic acts of Arvind Kejriwal & Co. outside Rail Bhawan in January 2014 Ketkar quickly defended them by telling CNN-IBN India has always been anarchic. He recalled events like the Ayodhya movement to defend Kejriwal’s stupidity. KK has a rare distinction though. He’s one of those media heroes who has been provided police protection following police complaints and threats for abusing a certain caste in Maharashtra. And that contempt is because he hated a certain politician. There’s also a case relating to defamatory articles against the RSS and also abusing judiciary. It’s unlikely the man will change. A hate-filled heart remains the same.
8. Nikhil Wagle (New entrant)
Frankly, this media moron is in the bad news not so much for journalism but for his filthy tweets and some allegations by one Nitin Rane. I haven’t watched him on IBN Lokmat nor have I had the misfortune to read anything he may have ever written. Like some others in this list he is most known for peddling of untruths. His most stupid outburst was against the middle class people. He tweeted in March 2012: “I am surprised by the low IQ of middle class in this country. Their understanding of politics is so dismal that they vote BJP. God save!” In another tweet he brazenly claims “Not a single PM of India has defended communal riots directly or indirectly. If @narendramodi dreams to become PM he should know this!” Of course, this Congress crony apparently backs what Rajiv Gandhi said justifying killing of Sikhs with a great tree falling. While Wagle often screams about corruption, readers and voters are quite aware of his bosses being alleged to be involved in the Coal scam. I don’t see any reason why Wagle why will ever move out of this list.
7. Nidhi Razdan (10)
The “Larger picture” has made progress and has gone up the list. If she is angling for a permanent spot among India’s worst then she’s doing just the right things. With a permanent scowl on her face and permanent contempt for some panellists, her show called “Left, right, centre” is nothing more than filler on NDTV. Sort of bench-warming for passing the “buck”. Nidhi delivered one of the most shameful episodes on Indian TV in her mindless rant against a British MP for inviting Narendra Modi to speak in the British parliament. She even claimed she had the right to “question” SC judgements. If you watch the video of that shameless spectacle Nidhi mentions “controversial/controversy” as many times as Rahul Gandhi mentions empowerment or systems in his speeches. A thorough disgrace to journalism.
6. Karan Thapar (6)
India’s only “bow-tie” journalist (he often reminds me of the bow-tie killer). He has earned the nickname ‘The Tool’ after infamously ridiculing PA Sangma, the presidential candidate, of being a tool in the hands of some political parties. His standard pose is the dangerous “masculine” pose that The Hindu warns us of as the cause of rapes. Often also called a Paki-Tool, KT sort of proved it when he was handed a quote of Nawaz Sharif about friendship with India. This quote was planted by the Pak news agencies after Sharif became PM and KT grandly discussed the “hand of friendship” on his show. It just turned out the statement was made by Sharif to none other than KT earlier (before Sharif became PM again) and the Pakis made KT a “useful idiot” to peddle that old statement in the midst of LOC violations. The other thing KT is fond of is making others (like Sibal, Jaitley) sit in his chair and play Devil’s Advocate and pay him compliments. His 2007 statement hoping for a “sudden removal of Modi” may hold more interest now in many quarters.
5. Rajdeep Sardesai (3)
If Rajdeep has fallen one place it’s only because a bigger disgrace has made a grand debut in this list. “Point taken, fair enough” is now the standard defence RS offers when zapped by a panellist (much like Nidhi’s “larger picture” diversion). From defending Robert Vadra and the Gandhis, RS is now seen as grand campaigner for the AAP party. The number of interviews and promotions of Arvind Kejriwal on CNN-IBN and the whole IBN group would stand as proof. His most famous event in the past two years would be the incompetent interview with Modi on the bus floor. Modi even, deliberately or inadvertently, called him “Sar-ka-dard-esai”. Under RS the IBN group has hit rock bottom with many employees being sacked and the channel hitting new lows in TRP. Quite unfortunate considering CNN-IBN does have some of the best journalists on TV. Rajdeep’s judgement and prudence can be measured by the fact that most of his IOTY nominees have ended up as disasters. If the “top” is bad then no number of good journalists can shore up a failing channel.
4. Ashutosh (New entrant)
One of the admirable things about Ashutosh is that he made his way up from humble beginnings to prominence. But as many will tell him, it’s not where you started but where you finished that counts. Right now Ashutosh has finished in absolute disgrace. He pretended to be a journalist and an editor while being a political activist for the AAP party. Ashutosh epitomises what most of his colleagues are: Political cronies in the garb of journalists. He had to be thrown out and he became a full time politician; scarf, cap ‘Malala look’ and all that. Having become a politician he now does a U-turn on many things he uttered as a closet-journalist. The pro-retail stand FDI turning into anti-FDI being the most prominent one. Somewhere, Ashutosh suffers an inferiority complex as well it seems. His muddled language often confuses but doesn’t fail to entertain with its stupidity. So much that Kiran Bedi held up Roget’s Thesaurus to him to help him understand the meaning of “anarchy”. In return he has promised to teach her a lesson. I’m willing to bet: failed journalist, failed politician.
3. Sagarika Ghose (2)
She was again in the contest for the top slot. There isn’t much that Cacafonix hasn’t done which budding journalists should learn not to do. From Easter eggs on Good Friday to calling SC judges “Crackpot” you have heard it all from this C5M. Just two days back she was in a Sikh colony scavenging on their pain of the 1984 killings while her boss was calling the recent discussions on the topic a “nautanki”. It didn’t occur to Rajdeep that the nautanki was from his own channel in fake care for the victims. Sagarika was also a grand campaigner for the Congress in the December 2012 elections of Gujarat. She travelled through the ‘Muslim Corridor’ from Ahmedabad to Surat tasting “Communal” food and “Secular” food. Stuttering and stammering on her shows she also has this silly habit of repeating the last lines of her panellists for which Madhu Trehan of Newslaundry aptly calls it “Face the echo”. Sagarika is, of course, one of the greatest economists produced by CNN-IBN. You can tell by the stupid questions she keeps posting and repeating to RahulG and Modi. And, hold on tight to you chair, Rajdeep passes her as “Sense over Sensationalism”.
2. Barkha Dutt (1)
Barkha finally falls off her top perch. She topped the pile in the last two editions but then BD has fallen of every perch she’s been on. One of the biggest blows to her must be that RahulG preferred Arnab Goswami to her for his first ever TV interview. All her years of carefully “evoluting” the Gandhi has ended in misery. She also campaigned for SheilaD by moderating her Google hangout; but SheilaD too lost as did Congress in Delhi. Overall BD has been far more subdued in the last year or so but hasn’t failed to maintain her bitchiness or her sense of grandeur about herself. She thrilled when Hartosh Bal was sacked from Open Magazine because he had spanked her badly over the Radiagate episode. She couldn’t help telling the world over and over again how she was reporting from the “North Lawns” of the White House. She screwed up over the “Dehati Aurat” incident and then claimed the story was being made “about her”. She didn’t forget to bitch about a reporter from TimesNow in her reporting from the “Keran Sector”. To add to her misery her frequent darlings have also been in trouble. Musharraf is more in jail than out. Imran Khan got a smackdown in the Pak elections. Poor thing! Nothing is going right for ‘Lady Iamthenews’.
1. Deepak Chaurasia (New entrant)
India’s Worst Journalist 2014 by a good margin. DC who was earlier with Aajtak, then Doordarshan and now allegedly with India News is in the news for an alleged fake video. Many on SM have campaigned to vote for him on this poll because of a video which he is alleged to have doctored and aired to tarnish someone’s reputation. They were trending him on Twitter with #ArrestCHORasia. This relates to sexual molestation case of a minor. It is for this reason that he not only makes a debut in this list but also makes it straight to No.1. There is something I remember about DC that most people may not. You see, DC is a brave man who had gone to report on the US-Iraq war of 2003. That takes some courage, doesn’t it? Oh yes, our DC was right in the middle of it and he was all dressed up in flap-jackets, helmet and all and reporting on the war. There was just one problem though. The war was in Iraq and DC was reporting from Kuwait, which wasn’t under any attack. Perhaps this comedian thinks news business is also a theatre. Although DC is one of the early reporters in the Hindi category he is clearly not fit for TV journalism. If he is at the top of this trash pile he quite well deserves the honour.
Congratulations to all the winners and may they stand as a beacon for budding journalists on what not to do or be. It is fitting that we relive some funny, filthy and frivolous moments from some of these characters. Here’s a video compilation (6.30 mins. Some clips are from Newslaundry):
Poll results below. Please note that total number of votes vs voters as also related percentages may not match because voters were allowed to choose multiple candidates in the poll.