Thursday, November 21, 2013

Modi and Tejpal - the jaundiced worldview of our TV 'experts'

So much viewer heckling happens in the Indian media nowadays that I feel glad sitting far away from it. However, there are certain things that just catch your attention in ways and means that could have puzzled even the mysterious Sphinx of yore. The timing of two cases that have come to public light has been wonderful; it has taken the veil of political leanings to quite an extent.

Many media houses are a little surprised by the political tone that Tarun Tejpal's story has obtained. However, this was waiting to happen for several reasons. When within a few days of shrilly berating Narendra Modi and Amit Shah of BJP for 'snooping on a girl', we are now seeing an altogether different song being sung. What is even more disappointing is the fact that since one of the media's 'pillars of credibility' has been found wanting on several grounds, the tone adopted by many of them has been defensive, with many of their resident experts saying that the case should neither be politicized nor should we make judgments on the matter which will be sub judice. However, sample these points for a thought ,and you would also wonder at how bad things have become.


Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhary of Tehelka did not reveal the story; in fact, had it not been leaked by some conscientious workers of the organization, this matter would have been killed. A six month 'sannyaas' would have, as a popular joke on Twitter goes, made a Brahmarshi out of  Tarun Tejpal. Shoma Chaudhary may worry as much as she wants to, but the fact remains that when the technique of leaks, pioneered by them, hit them, the organization and its editor in chief were literally caught with their pants down.

Many of the TV experts dancing around the issue today are the same people who more than willingly pass morality judgments on Narendra Modi in the cases of Ishrat Jahan and the recent 'snoopgate'. Just hearing them talk has been a good lesson in being double faced, especially since all of them having a particular political leaning are now washing their linen of neutrality by stating such things as 'let them compromise'. Well the girl clearly does not want to compromise. They would have gone hammer and tongs if the organization would have been Organizer or Panchajanya or Pioneer, as someone had tweeted.

Another dangerous thing to note was the silence of the print media websites on this issue. Times of India and Hindustan Times did not even put this up on their pages for a long time today. Any such scoop on Narendra Modi comes up within minutes without even making a cursory grammar check. That shows us much about their political biases .What is even more worrisome is the fact that the print media's silence when it comes to shielding one of their own. By such actions and more, the case for a draconian regulator is strengthened, lobbying the ball into the courts of such inane Ministers like Manish Tewari, who make yesteryear wonders such as Vidya Charan Shukla look intelligent. Also, the media clearly is not following the guidelines laid out in the Vishakha judgment by the Honorable Supreme Court, which means that most of them are in contempt of the Court as well.

The Indian media's neutrality never existed; it would however make sense if they did not wear that garb and pretended to be holier than thou. So is the case with their panels of experts. However, for once, the media should try to spare us their jaundiced worldview. It would be a refreshing change for us viewers and readers if only they contemplated at their intellectual state.

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