Till a few years ago, it was quite a fun to “spot the difference” between two almost identical images. The challenge was irresistible with the taunt that the two images differed on at least 10 counts. You scratched your head, forgot the world, and strained your eyes and crowned yourself genius once the task was accomplished.
Reading Indian Express these days is an exercise of a similar order. You have to match the headlines, the text and the photo and then pour over inverted commas and quotes to understand where the mischief has been planted. It’s not an easy order for most such Fake News are spread over two pages and are 1000-plus words, relying on time-tested tactics that readers would give up after headline or a few first paragraphs. It costs me hours but I have worked out a way to get through this maze. My strike rate is 99 out of 100 which is good enough and satiates my “spot-the-difference” urge.
First, of course are the stories on Front Page. Indian Express these days have reserved it to Modi-Centre-BJP bashing. (Now Yogi Adityanath is inching up the charts). Even on Front Page, the bigger decks accorded to a headline, the more reasons to suspect a mischief hiding in the text-matter. Most importantly, I make it a point to read the final two paras. It’s almost guaranteed that the saner, and the essential truth of the story, is in these two paras. After you read it, you go through the story backwards and spot the Fake News It’s a science folks! You got to give the devil his due. (Oh, I am sorry. Leftists don’t believe in Gods or Devils).
There are a few other Fake News spotters in Indian Express. If there is any Front Page news on Dalits, you got to really flush your lens and go through it. Most likely, such stories appear in profusion before an Assembly elections. Many a times these stories are discredited—as you would find in this link of my aggregated stories in NewsBred. Either Indian Express doesn’t carry an apology—like the fake moustache story on Dalits in Gujarat recently—or the Fake-News-buster true account is buried in inside pages.
You could also be sure that the anniversaries of all unfortunate victims of Muslim community, Akhlaq and Pehlu etc, would deserve a Front-Page mega spread, most likely as anchor story. (Never mind, Hindu victims never get such a privilege, some would say not even our soldier martyrs). Now, you must watch out for June 23, 2018 when it would be a year to Junaid Khan’s unfortunate killing in Ballabhgarh. I am second-guessing, you would have an Indian Express anchor on Junaid Khan, come June 23 next year.
I am not even coming to JNU’s Kanhaiyas and Umar Khalids of our world. I am also not mentioning how the coverage of grieving parents and relatives of minority victims—mind you never a Hindu victim–sitting at Jantar Mantar or taking out a demonstration on Capital streets has half-a-page reserved for it. How BHU girls agitation is a news and not that of AMU protesting girl students. For these are subjective matters and is the prerogative of a newspaper. To push the agenda, our mainstream English media-the Lutyens’ Media—let’s its editorial spread of two pages to do the dirty job.
Our attention is Fake News and so we must return to the subject. The second lead of Indian Express today is: “Slowdown concern, need to push growth jobs: PM’s advisors”
Quite a few things in this headline and the positioning of the story got my antennas up. I could smell Fake News in the use of “concern” and “PM’s advisors” in the headline. Would PM’s advisors really go public with their “concern” on the state of the economy? And the use of “PM’s advisors” and not the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) was a giveaway on who is meant to be a fall guy. All the economic ills of the country, by inference, must be put at the door of the Prime Minister. His own advisors are expressing concern at their own authoritarian ruler, that’s the inference.
The fake use of “concern” was easy to spot. The Express quoted part-time member Ashima Goyal that EAC would “work as a sounding board of ideas.” But Express cleverly preceded this quote with an inserted view of their own of “concern.” Read this particular para and make up your own mind:
There is a lot of concern about the economy today and the Council will “work as a sounding board of ideas”, EAC member Ashima Goyal said.
(The Express cleverly held back the full designation of Ashima Goyal. She is a part-time and not full-time EAC member).
That being so, I poured over the rest of the lengthy story. Then I read the same story in Times of India and Hindustan Times. I was intrigued that the Times of India prominently put in a front-page lead box the view of another EAC part-time member Rathin Roy that “IMF’s growth projections are 80% wrong…World Bank’s growth projections are 65% wrong. The government’s estimates are right more than 90% of the time.” However, the front page 1000-plus wordathon of Indian Express has no mention of it at all!
It is such selective and distorted coverage which has made Indian Express lose all its respect in the eyes of the discerning readers. It is morally wrong, agenda-driven, and worse a case of cheating against its paying-consumers. When the readers are seeking true coverage and information, they are getting blighted and manipulated coverage. Indian Express must be having its own compulsion, their hands could be forced but the newspaper would do well to heed this opinion of one of its readers: “I haven’t seen any story which favours a Hindu viewpoint in Indian Express for ages, at least on front page).” The worst thing a newspaper could do to its reputation is to appear biased and agenda-driven.
Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express on Thursday’s edition has been found out in peddling a Fake News).
This has also appeared on NewsBred).
(Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express, no surprises here, continues to be the leader of Fake News in Mainstream Media –call it Lutyens’ Media).
Indian Express today had a four-deck headline on its front page: “Farmers, small business must not suffer, RSS chief tells govt” (Sub headline: Mixes praise for Modi with caution, seeks “new provisions” in Valley).
On the parameters set out by Facebook, this is clearly a Fake News. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat never said the “Farmers, small business” are suffering; and even if he thought so, he never addressed it to the government!
Indian Express chose “small business” as the essence of Bhagwat’s speech even though he had some quite explosive opinions on mischief-makers in today’s India: The RSS chief asked for some constitutional provisions of J & K to go; he wanted Rohingyas to be thrown out on security; and he exhorted those involved in cow-protection to keep up their good work and not be dissuaded by sinister coining of word “vigilantism” to make them appear criminal. Pointedly, Bhagwat asked: “Many activists who were peacefully involved in cow protection were attacked and killed. This issue is neither discussed nor being inquired into.” (His entire speech can be watched here).
Yet, Indian Express found merit in giving a Fake Headline to Bhagwat’s speech. They ignored the sumptuous praise which Bhagwat had reserved for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The evidence of their foul play is the headline in its web-edition: “RSS chief praises Modi”, some 20 hours earlier before it was fabricated for the print edition!
One can understand this anxiety of a mouthpiece of Left ideology to keep harping on India’s economy in view of the forthcoming Gujarat assembly elections. Such assault on India’s economy also finds expression in running down “Bullet Train,” more so in the wake of recent stampede tragedy in Mumbai.
Thus you have a story running down “Bullet Train” in Lutyens’ Media. Today, Express has given big displays to P. Chidambaram, Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray, so much so that it almost makes up the entire Page 9. Never mind, such set of people not long ago were worrying that speed of our trains haven’t changed since 1971. This sort of ideology was against metro in cities. Remember the outrage on Mumbai-Pune expressway project? It is this expressway which has made Pune so alluring to corporate and IT sectors. Yojana Bhawan had once declared the Maruti Project as a pipedream. Such ideology couldn’t care less that land prices along the Bullet Train would shoot up and bring a great deal of investment, growth and jobs.
Bullet Train as such is not a Fake News in Indian Express but when politicians and media work in tandem, who are we to disbelieve our politicians and Lutyens’ Media are not part of the same ecosystem which is intent on spreading mischief, a softer version of Fake News?
Another such example of acting in concert is on Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, director of a centre in the Maulana Azad Urdu University in Hyderabad. The man has gone berserk in claiming his life is under threat for writing books such as : “Post-Hindu India, Buffalo Nationalism, Untouchable God” etc. Among his suggestions are to say prayers in English. For the last four months, this ecosystem of mischief and fake news are fuelling each other on Shepherd. Yesterday it was Indian Express, today it’s Times of India which has splashed his interview in its edit page. No prizes for second guessing that Scroll, Wire etc have long set the agenda rolling.
Now all those who interview Shepherd, don’t ask him some simple questions: “Sir, why you have nothing ever to say about the discrimination and oppression within Muslim communities?” Or “Sir, why don’t you mention the Reservations which the state grants to your oppressed community of Dalit-Bahujan, depriving many meritorious of the upper castes?” Or, “Sir, any views on why the Leftists, whom you support, have zero representation of Dalit-Bahujans in their top hierarchy?”
Such agenda is visible everywhere. Today, in Indian Express we have a full page interview with a Magsaysay award winner outlining the system’s failure. The less said about Magsaysay awards the better for the CIA-Ford Foundation links in its background are unmistakable. Arvind Kejriwal, or Manish Sisodia, would certainly have something to say on it.
Then there are two pages on the plight of manual scavengers in Indian Express. There are many reasons to sympathize with their plight; but every reason to condemn the attempt to link it with Swachh Bharat mission and by inference show it in poor light. Even as the word is pouring in on Swachh Bharat’s success.
(Facebook today came out with a full-page advertisement in Indian Express (September 26, 2017) with 10 tools for a reader to check if a news is fake. It asks readers to check headlines, evidence, photos, source to spot a Fake News. It’s a good reference point to monitor our English national dailies—Lutyens’ Media– who abound in Fake News. It’s a start today and we would gradually warm up to daily planting of Fake News by mainstream media.)
Indian Express today had 7 stories on Banaras Hindu University (BHU) violence, running from its Front Page to multiple pages inside its Delhi edition. It fails the Facebook Fake News Challenge on multiple counts.
EVIDENCE: A front page piece attributes several issues which girl hostellers face in BHU. There is not a SINGLE source attributed!!! Further there is no attempt to investigate—in this or in any other BHU story in Indian Express today if there is truth in (a) Outside BHU elements creating ruckus; (b) attempt to destroy the University property; (c) police targeting only these “troublemakers” (d) BHU Vice-Chancellor alleging protests politically motivated.
Interestingly, THE PROTESTORS THEMSELVES SAY THE OUTSIDE ELEMENTS HAVE CAUSED THE TROUBLE!!! Why Express has made no attempt to investigate it? Or other news reports? (see image)?
SOURCE: Seema Chisti writes thus on Edit Page in today’s Express: “BHU has pushed for no Wi-Fi (How can the new VC risk Wi-Fis, as girls would watch porn). Meat-eating must be curbed and early bedtimes enforced. The VC, who defended RSS ideas, was keen to stamp out any trouble in BHU.”
The Facebook Fake News Challenge asks readers to be sceptical of the source you don’t trust. Seema Chisti falls in this bracket. She never mentions she is Seema Chisti Yechury, wife of Communist powerhead, Sitaram Yechury. Readers can’t be faulted if she is perceived as part of Communist propaganda machine.
One, there is Wi-Fi in girls’ hostel (so they can watch porn, Ms Chisti). Two, meat-eating is not curbed (Extra Rs 30 ensure it); Three, early bedtimes are not enforced–Girl students can take permission from BHU authorities and stay out as long as they want.
Let’s not even stoop to reply her charge on the BHU VC having RSS leaning (And why readers must not presume you are a Communist loudspeaker, Ms Chisti?)
HEADLINES: The Front Page headline of “Why women BHU students are separate and unequal” is classically ambiguous. You can interpret it both ways—that WHY SHOULD girls have separate rules or WHY SHOULD NOT there be separate rules.. But for the standard tactics of misleading headlines, I would give a more concrete example.
On Page 11 of Indian Express, one of its exclusive story has this headline: “Rohingya illegal, purse-strings open for Lankan Tamil refugees”. Now this headline clearly aims to influence the readers that the Modi government is discriminatory; it has one policy for Rohingya Muslims and another for Non-Muslims. What it shamelessly hides is that Rohingyas are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and not REFUGEES! So the two instances can’t be compared. Unless the newspaper sees no difference between apples and oranges.
As an aside, click on this link to see how from politicians (Ashok Gehlot, Sanjay Sharma), to journalists (Mrinal Pande, Swati Chaturvedi) to lawyers (Prashant Bhushan) have blatantly peddled lies on the BHU affair and make up your own mind on these Fake News Promoters.
(Post Script: Mainstream Media Fake News Monitor isn’t exclusive to this writer. Any discerning reader who spots Fake News in our mainstream media can use the platform and share it with others—but don’t forget to tag the headline MSM Fake News Monitor. Only then we would know the extent to which Lutyens Media lies).
There is a new narrative by the DALALS (Devious Left and Lutyens Scribes). It’s not about the fresh round of communal violence against Hindus in West Bengal where the Mamta government is seen overtly as pro-Muslim. It’s not even about the Facebook post which was used as a handle to beat Hindus with. It’s about the constitutional propriety of Governors who are accused of acting at the Centre’s behest.
The usual suspects such as Indian Express (their edit today, see image) and Rajdeep Sardesai have dumbed down the reprehensible Bengal violence to a debate about how BJP-appointed Governors are causing mischief. They have dragged down the Tripura and Puducherry Governors to connect dots and conclude that India’s democracy is in peril.
This is not as much ingenuity as the brazen, brash conviction that their echo chambers would drown out any voice of reason. That nobody would question them, like how come Governor Ram Nath Kovind earned so unabashed a praise from Modi-baiter Nitish Kumar in Bihar?
Said Nitish: “Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post.”
This from a Chief Minister of a state which handed over a humiliating defeat to Modi in 2015 Bihar assembly elections, just a year after the BJP’s euphoric triumph in 2014 General Elections.
These DALALS have also swept under the carpet the unequivocal support which West Bengal Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has offered to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.
As per Chowdhury, he had no “valid reason” to demand Tripathi’s recall and said he had found the Governor to be a “thorough gentleman and affable person.”
Yet, these inconvenient truths don’t suit the DALALS. That these voices of conscience have come from bitter Modi foes matter least to them.
A few questions, which hopefully would drill a hole through their echo chambers and if nothing else alert citizens about these devious forces at work, are thus;
(a) What’s the exact nature of this conversation between Tripathi-Mamta? And if the DALALS are not privy to this private telephonic talk, what makes them pitch for Mamta and not Tripathi?
(b) While accusing BJP Governors for undermining democratically elected state governments, what makes DALALS give clean chits to Mamta, Arvind Kejriwal or Akhilesh Yadav governments who are under scanner from investigating agencies of the land? What makes them believe these leaders are upholder of democratic traditions?
(c ) Why these DALALS have no stance at all on this communal violence in West Bengal? Why they never call Mamta by name? Why this studious stand to avoid word “Mamta” all through their writings?
(d) Why no question has yet been asked to Mamta about her silence on the “triple talaq’ issue? Come on you champions of feminist causes. Don’t show your menstrual cramps.
(d ) With the known Jihadi presence in neighbouring Bangladesh, why these DALALS have not stopped to question the threat of Jihadis turning West Bengal as their base for further attacks on India’s sovereignty? Why this studious silence?
(e) Failing this, do they want a story similar to Kashmiri Pundits be repeated in Bengal? Have they paused and dreaded the consequence of such a migration? And its devastating effect on the India we know?
Instead of addressing these grave issues and questioning Mamta’s role through all this, these DALALS have trained their guns on Tripathi, an octogenarian without a whiff of controversy during his long career in public eye. An esteemed poet and writer, Tripathi’s commentary on The Representation of People Act, 1951 is still held in high regard.
The obfuscation by DALALS could have been comic if it was not this tragic. There could be no Ramchandra Guha or Pawan Verma invited on TV debates since the matter itself has been given a quite burial.
Times of India in its editorial today has cried bucketful on the “harmful” influence of social media on the “news-professionals” like them, and other mainstream media. It offers a sanguine advice to Facebook to wake up to the “fake and misleading news that are downright fabrications.” The edit writer has no doubt that the US polls have been influenced by false information posted as “news” on social media.
For too long news professionals—of which I was a part for three-decades and more—have believed that they know best. For large part of my career I was an international cricket writer and believed only insider knows what’s happening. There was an air about me which suitably got punctured when CricInfo came on to the scene. There was initial mocking, disdain which turned into grudging acceptance to downright admiration for their language, insight and imagination in due course. Men like Rahul Bhattacharrya, Dileep Premchandran and Sidharth Monga earned deep respect with their work.
Sport was one such instance. There were separate fields like politics, social commentary, historical references which began receiving fresh winds of change. Many of us “professional news” gatherers began picking up the minds on social media. Our copies were better for it; our insight only got richer. Most of my fellow print journalists reading this piece would admit, if they are honest, that a lot of their “reporting” happens on the phone only. This claim to being “professionals” is so stupid. At least 99 per cent of we “professional journalists” wouldn’t have read 10 books in our lifetimes.
The Times of India edit increasingly begin pontificating. It says that social media may lead to “medievalisation” of the global community. “It would give spurt to tribal instincts—in the form of racism, xenophobia or communalism—that is exploding around the world.”
Really, how stupid you can get. Newspapers at best offer a bridge of communication between public and public institutions. It ought to put both viewpoints in perspective. But the mainstream media of today completely eschews this role. In its worldview, the unheard must not be heard; the unspoken must not be allowed to speak. The “have-nots” of this world have no reason to question the “haves” to which the modern media is a part. These ivory towers of the world are increasingly being smashed as BrExit and US polls reveal how removed they are from reality. The credit for it squarely goes to “social media” where people are connecting, sharing information and forming their own opinion. You look at our newspapers and you would know who is promoting “racism” and “communalism.”
So troubled are mainstream media with their shaken foundations that they refuse to examine the evidence that is out there in open in social media. For example there is this piece which completely exposes Arvind Kejriwal in a sting operation called K-files. But you wouldn’t find our mainstream media taking it up. Or that most of our mainstream journalists are offered “cushioned” posts by the Delhi government. Again, you wouldn’t hear a murmur. There are pointed referrals to how mainstream media is giving disconnected headlines with the text. NewsBred has relentlessly exposed this “misinformation” and “spreading of lies” but you would never find a Times of India putting the lens back on its tribe.
The NewsBred links below would offer dozens of such deliberate “misreporting” and “twisting” of facts. If this is what Times of India has in mind by way of “professionalism” the readers are better off without it. The mainstream media is increasingly becoming not worth of our time and certainly not of our money. This closed shop has crumbled but the rats can’t feel the boiling water in the tub.
The so-called “news professionals” are just sound-byte carriers. They go to the source which is likely to offer them the point of view they wish to publish or telecast. Unlike in social media where the news and information is more rigorously debated and evidence is provided with. Every opinion is open to challenge on social media. Unlike the closed shop that mainstream media has become. Mainstream Media is in deep shit and they know it.
Times of India ends its piece by urging Facebook, Twitter and Google to put a limit on social media. This is the same newspaper which cried hoarse when former Union Minister Kapil Sibal tried to put a restriction on facebook and twitter. The “freedom of expression” doesn’t concern them now.