The Newspaper That Sold Its Soul

 Note: Listen to the two recordings at the end of this post

An editor of a leading news magazine called Indian Express, “the voice of big business”. There’s also the alleged sponsorship by Mukesh Ambani. The pro-corporate anti-poor agenda is apparent in all Indian Express reportage – from the “educational” full page spread on BT-Brinjal, malicious and sometimes arguably false reporting on the Maoists, biased bullshit on the nuclear liability issue, and social sector spending by the State labeled  “nanny state” and “dole” – pejorative terminology that has no place outside of the opinion pages, certainly not in headlines.

In the ongoing smear campaign against Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan –  this report shows Express’ less than subtle manipulation.

The headline, “Blow to Bhushans: CD talk with Mulayam genuine, say forensics” makes it appear that the report is uncontested. What the hell does “forensics” mean? Were the two labs where Prashant Bhushan sent the conversation for analysis using the voodoo board for analysis? The accurate headline would have been to name the lab, CFSL or even more accurate would have to say “Government Lab”.

In the copy, every time government sources are quoted, their statements are written as statement of fact.

The controversial CD containing purported conversation between eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan and political leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh does not seem to have been tampered with and there is continuity in the conversation, police sources said.

Sources quoting the report said the CD does not seem to have been tampered with and there is continuity in the conversation.

“Recorded conversation is in continuity, no abrupt change in speech signal has been detected,” the sources said.

Compare with how Prashant Bhushan’s statement is treated. When quoting Prashant, words are lifted from sentences and put in quotes such as “doctored”, which in conjunction with “he claimed” undercuts the credibility of his statement

Bhushan’s son and lawyer Prashant had claimed that the disc was “doctored” using 2006 conversations of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh and was intended to influence judgements in 2G and Amar Singh tape cases besides derailing the joint committee proceedings.

He had claimed that the forensic analysis done by US expert George Papcun and Hyderabad-based Truth Labs had shown that the CD has “multiple gaps and signs of electronic editing at very very critical places”.

Also the report happily leaves out the damning fact that in the two recordings – the recording with the purported conversation with Shanti Bhushan and Amar Singh, and the recording from 2006 – entire sections have been lifted e.g., a line, ring tone – saying only that there are “multiple gaps and editing at critical places”.

However the 33 odd comments on this story show that the reader doesn’t place much credence on the government lab report and sees this as a smear campaign. Even so no one is arguing that the members of the “civil society” are above scrutiny – but the investigation must be done properly, those charged given an opportunity and adequate space to explain, and some skepticism on the timing and series of charges that are materializing out of nowhere.

Also read this post: Is Indian Express now pro-establishment paper

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6 responses to “The Newspaper That Sold Its Soul

  1. There is a vast conspiracy by western powers to contrl India thru their political agents, business leaders, crony media, corrupt journalists and evangelical orgn and their agents in India. Disunity, ignorance is prevalent among majority is aiding this conspirators.

  2. Agree to you on most issues. Indian Express is playing cynical role and no doubt that it is pro establishment.

    I had been an IE fan due to sheer quality of its editorial content that is far superior compared to the TOI and HT, but it has let all its lovers down.

    It is no more a paper of Mr. Ramnath Goenka.

  3. I refer to your last few lines “Even so no one is arguing that the members of the “civil society” are above scrutiny – but the investigation must be done properly, those charged given an opportunity and adequate space to explain, and some skepticism on the timing and series of charges that are materializing out of nowhere.”

    1. The bill that the so called “civil society” appropriators are proposing does not offer the same courtesy to people who will be brought to it with charges of corruption.

    2. By branding all politicians as corrupt and worthy of being fed to dogs and vultures, the “civil society” is not only not extending that courtesy to the politicians, but also does not even feel it necessary to even bring charges against each politician. What gives them a right to tarnish and condemn an entire category of people, and then be so righteous when specific charges of corruption – or better described as “feeding off the same corrupt systems’ bounties” – are brought against specific people linked to the lokpal bill. Then they want to hide behind the spotless (as in blameless) khadi of Anna’s kurta.

    I think it is better for a real civil society, if it is to remain civil, to understand that not everyone for the bill is pure as ice; and not everyone opposed to it is corrupt.. A civil society thinks and assesses issues on merit and logic. Vilifying someone who is not with is you is the trait of Bhindrawales and Khomeinis of this world.

    Express has done a great job in informing the readers of the draconian provisions of the bill and once again they have stood for ‘journalism of courage’ by going against the populist sentiment. Inviting public ire and crucifixion by standing for their beliefs and doing their job of informing people of the truth behind the smoke screen.

    • The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill is draconian – and of course it must be critiqued (as should any legislation in a democracy). The campaign for the Joint Committee was undemocratic, polarizing and opportunistic – everyone must dissect, discuss and debate.

      Express carried very good edits and opinion pieces on the issue – but the irony when Express talks of the campaign being undemocratic or anti-poor?! Critiquing the Hazare campaign and the JLP happily fits Express’ pro-corporate agenda – this is not “journalism of courage” at all – it too is opportunism. And the manner of the smear campaign against the Bhushan’s unconscionable.

    • @Ruchi: I am a little confused. Why do you call IE to be having a pro-corporate agenda? I hardly see any big corporate advts in Express. And what is wrong with being pro-corporate per se’? Is it like being called in a ‘Commie” in the US in the 70’s?

  4. Exhibit A: Express’ coverage of the Maruti management worker standoff at Manesar

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/brakes-on-at-manesar/851241/ – full page, not a line on the alleged work conditions

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/No-compromise-on-discipline–Osamu-Suzuki-to-Maruti-union/844397/ – not a line representing the worker’s point of view. Isn’t one of the golden rules of journalism to get both sides of the story?

    Alleged work conditions at Maruti http://kafila.org/2011/09/06/speed-and-control-at-manesar-why-is-the-maruti-suzuki-management-keeping-workers-out-of-its-factory/

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