How “Paid Media” behaves when its favorite politician is stung?

In the last two days. we’ve been trying to follow up on how much coverage media is giving to AK’s match-fixing Bhagat Singh interview with AajTak. This is a test case for media neutrality. So far, my worst fears on media being hand-in-glove with Congress+AAP is being proved beyond doubt. None of the major channels NDTV, CNN-IBN, Times Now, and of course AajTak/HT (the very culprit) has given this news any space it deserves. All the awareness seems to have been restricted to the youth on social media. Not one channel has questioned AAP hard on the expose, and not one anchor has organized a panel discussion on the dangers of media-fixing, and orchestrated interviews to a free and fair media. Sadly, even those who are smart enough to understand the gravity of the situation haven’t made sufficient noise calling for sacking of Mr. Punya Prasoon Bajpai who continues to be the head of AajTak’s editorial team.

(To clarify, I never expected anyone from AAP calling for the honest Mr. Arvind Kejriwal’s head, so no let down there! AAP’s intellectual leader Mr. Yogendra Yadav, otherwise very voluble on paid media rhetoric, has been conspicuously silent.)

Am I exaggerating the dangers of paid media here? I’d humbly say “No!” Our democracy survives on access to information to public so they can freely make up their minds. If the information reaching them is orchestrated or corrupted due to vested interests, it is possible that a section of gullible masses can be wooed by such interests to harm the interest of the nation, via the ballot boxes. Paid media is no different in that sense from voter bribes.

A case in point is this:

  • When AAP leader Prashant Bhushan called for Kashmir to be given to Pakistan, and army to be withdrawn, there was a hue and cry. As a loyal patriotic Indian, the then Delhi CM gave an interview to Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai calling Kashmir an integral part of India, and thereby gaining the trust of some of his nationalist followers who might have been offended by such statements.
  • Similar was the case when Yogendra Yadav talked on Maoists, or someone else on Khap Panchayats, and caste reservations. Each time, Kejriwal took an opposite stand from his extremist colleagues to appeal to the fickle-minded middle class.
  • Then came Kejriwal’s unbeatable hypocrisy at a speech to industrial body CII in Mumbai. When in power for 49 days, the man did everything he could to throw muck at private companies, gave subsidies from taxpayers even before a probe found any company guilty of corruption, threatened a government takeover of discom companies, and canceled FDI in retail without a debate on the merits of retroactive withdrawal of a state policy (I agree with recalling FDI in retail, but would have liked a debate on the merits of retroactive policy withdrawals). Well aware that his 49-day honeymoon had lost middle-class support,¬†this man now borrowed a slogan from his rival PM candidate:

    “Government has no business to be in business! Aha!!”

As with everyone else, I too was misled and genuinely thought that ex-CM of Delhi was now a changed man with fresh, modern ideas on the economy, Kashmir, reservations, and whatnot. Alas, that hope turned out to be short-lived, as this video has depicted. What Kejriwal has shown with this jugaad is that he cannot be trusted at his words, especially in orchestrated interviews with cozy journalists. Could it be that his lectures on business, Kashmir, Naxals, reservations, Khap are just carrots doled out at middle-class to split anti-Congress vote in 2014, aiming to impose a weak unstable regime on India?

At this hopeless juncture, Zee News is the only channel that has made any serious effort to get answers from Kejriwal himself for the serious violation of journalistic and political ethics. The eternal questioner-in-chief, always happy asking questions from all and sundry, as expected, ducks the Zee News’s questioner now. No wonder.

Indian media, please do your job! A sincere request from a concerned Indian.

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