Stings like a Cobra
Operation 136 shows Indian media’s underbelly in its most visceral form, where even the ‘big daddies’ do not mind agreeing to undertake a campaign that has the potential to not only cause communal disharmony among citizens but also tilt the electoral outcome in favour of a particular party.
I like a few journalists, detest a few and I’m indifferent to the rest. But I hope I never bump into investigative journalist Aniruddha Bahal (the founder of cobrapost.com) in a public place because I will probably hurl myself into his arms and make a spectacle of myself as he has no clue who I am. I could be arrested on charges of molestation and spend quality time making papads and pickles in Tihar jail.
Many media houses have pompous tags that brag about their courage and fearlessness, and there admittedly are a fair number of truly courageous journalists out there, particularly in the sticks—it’s the media owners who cluck, poop, and turn chicken. In the process, they let their journalists, the profession, and the country down. We’ve seen it happening for decades now, and things have got infinitely worse since the BJP came to power in 2014.
The latest Cobrapost sting (Operation 136) is on the media and the revelations are horrifying. Times of India, India Today, Hindustan Times, Zee News, Network 18, Star India, ABP News, Dainik Jagaran, Radio One, Red FM, Lokmat, ABN Andhra Jyothy, TV5, Dinamalar, Big FM, K News, India Voice, The New Indian Express, MVTV, Open magazine, India TV, Hindi Khabar, SAB TV, DNA (Daily News and Analysis), Amar Ujala, UNI, 9X Tashan, Samachar Plus, HNN Live 24×7, Punjab Kesari, Swatantra Bharat, ScoopWhoop, Rediff.com, IndiaWatch, Aj and Sadhna Prime News have expressed willingness to spread Hindutva/communal hatred (same difference), and defame leaders of rival parties for money. If you’re wondering why Dainik Bhaskar hasn’t been named, it’s because they were so worried about what the revelations would do to their sales that they got a stay order in advance from the Delhi High Court. Which makes me even more curious about what they were willing to do to spread hatred—a national Let’s-Lynch-Minorities contest perhaps? Fortunately, the stay order will be challenged soon.
Operation 136 shows Indian media’s underbelly in its most visceral form, where even the ‘big daddies’ do not mind agreeing to undertake a campaign that has the potential to not only cause communal disharmony among citizens but also tilt the electoral outcome in favour of a particular party. This they will do if they are paid the right price, and sometimes they have no compunctions to quote a price as high as Rs. 1,000 crore, as did the Times Group owner Vineet Jain, while others showed a propensity to indulge in any kind of illegality bordering on criminality.” Of course, mainstream media will not carry the Cobrapost sting (why would they trash themselves?). If you want all the sordid details and videos, visit cobrapost.com. But ensure that you spray your house with insect repellent before you start reading, because your jaw will drop frequently.
So fellow citizens, the next time you read glowing articles on the BJP in the newspaper you used to trust, or hear news anchors and radio jockeys singing their praises, ask yourself this question: how much they were paid to say that? Think big: remember that Vineet Jain asked for 1,000 cr and settled for 500. If you wish to amuse yourself further, read his twitter bio in which he describes himself as “forward thinking, secular and not aligned to any political party.” And remember this: the next time any of the media companies named above get sanctimonious about black money and corruption, turn on your laugh-o-meter. We can have jolly contests amongst ourselves on which of us laughed the loudest.
Now for some joy: while integrity appears to have gone out of fashion, there are two media companies that refused, absolutely refused to run Hindutva propaganda for love or for money. Ladies and Gentlemen, a big hand of applause for Bartaman and Dainik Sambad!