The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference
The harbinger of morality in the Indian Media, Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN, tweets on March 29 in response to Narendra Modi’s interview with Madhu Kishwar onNews X.
“I wonder whether the ‘outrage’ industry on twitter will today comment on the ultimate ‘fixed’ iview? A new low in journalism.”
He justifies his strong characterisation of this interview as a “new low in journalism” by his another tweet:
“That’s like a @jhasanjay iviewing Rahul! Atleast Sanjay is an official Cong spokesperson!”
So, why is he so piqued? To those who follow Madhu Kishwar on twitter and to those who read her blog, it is quite evident that she is an ardent supporter of Modi’s governance. She is also a journalist, and other journalists have often asked her on twitter how come she tweets so much in support of Narendra Modi, as if it is a crime to do so. The venerable Shri Bhupendra Chaube once asked her if she took upon herself to promote Modi!
It is in this background that Rajdeep Sardesai is angry, perhaps unable to tolerate this “new low in journalism”. Rajdeep’s critique of this being the “ultimate fixed iview” would have been valid, if this was the ‘only’ interview Modi ever gave to the media. If this was to be the ‘only’ interview that Modi gave after 10 years of continuous demands by the media, then I would have stood by Rajdeep and congratulated him for his bravado in calling out the “ultimate fixed interview”.
But the facts show otherwise. Instead of reeling out data on number of interviews given by Modi, let’s focus only on CNN-IBN. After 2009, Narendra Modi has given 3 interviews to CNN-IBN or associated networks. The first one was to Veer Raghav during the Sadbhavana fast in 2011. In fact, this link onDeshGujaratwebsite has the videos of all Modi’s interviews. The second one was to Rajdeep Sardesai during the 2012 election in Gujarat. The third one was to Rajdeep’s boss, Raghav Bahl, at theNetwork 18 summit, Think India .
Immediately after the summit in which Narendra Modi answered a various questions on Centre-State relations, FDI, foreign trade, privatisation of PSUs, labour reforms, land acquisition, defence equipment manufacturing, his message to the youth; Deputy Editor of CNN-IBN blatantly lies on twitter by asking :
“Why didn’t Modi stay and take any questions? Was he afraid of another India Today conclave situation?”
The harbinger of morality, Mister Rajdeep Sardesai somehow did not think that this was a “new low in journalism” when his own Deputy Editor put out such a blatant lie in open to defame Modi. A clarification came from Sagarika later that she meant that he should have taken more questions. He was there for as long as he could be, but this ilk is just never satisfied.
Or, let’s sample Rajdeep’s interview of Modi during the 2012 election. Here’s a chance to talk to Modi on many topics. Instead, what is the focus of Rajdeep’s questioning? Relentlessly he asks – Why did you drag in Sonia Gandhi’s name? Why? Why? Why? Then the question about PM candidature. The exact same question that Veer Raghav put out in 2011. Only focus when Modi was interviewed – will you apologise for 2002? Who is the PM candidate of your party? When given a chance, the ilk of Rajdeep Sardesai puts excessive focus on a current event and misses out speaking to him on his governance of 12 years.And when someone else does that, he finds it a “new low“!
“New low in journalism” was when Sagarika Ghose lied to her audience on a show that Sri Sri RaviShankar was live with her when she was bombarding him with “Sri Sri – respond to that” when she knew he could not as he was not live. “New low” is not when one of the myriad interviews that Narendra Modi gives to a journalist who also happens to be a fan of his work. “New low” is the veiled propaganda one runs in the garb of being neutral. Am I using strong words? Absolutely not! I am merely paraphrasing what Rajdeep has writtenrecently:
“…the fact is that while our political class has lost its nerve, a number of us in the media have also lost our moral compass and worryingly, our credibility.”
“Worse, there is the regressive trend of projecting blatantly partisan agendas as ‘independent’ news and views. Many of us are no longer true to our calling: we peddle half-truths, and, at times, downright sensationalism…”
When the “evil trolls” on twitter use the exact same language; they are derided. Peddling half-truths is the “new low” that Rajdeep never called out, sometimes on his own channel and by his own Editors. Yesterday, ETV telecasted an interview with Narendra Modi . The interview had details about various aspects of his governance model; it discussed aspirations and fears; it discussed ideas and implementations. If the ilk of Rajdeep were to interview Modi today, there will be excessive focus on ‘treatment to seniors’, 2002 riots, Kejriwal’s barbs etc. An occasional question might be thrown in about governance here and there – and the Modi-bashing will continue.
Sagarika Ghose asks 10 random questions on twitter, and rues continuously that those questions were not answered. She doesn’t utter a word, when Modi speaks on various facets to other channels. When questioned as to the excessive number of interviews with Arvind Kejriwal on NDTV, Barkha Dutt responds back by saying that nothing is stopping the other contenders from being approachable to the media – Modi doesnt’ entertain NDTV – that does not mean he doesn’t talk to the media as a whole. But that’s the narrative these people would like to spin – You are a brave politician if and only if you speak to me. Else, it’s a “new low”.