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The Top Media Lies of the year 2015

5. Government clears Indo-Pak cricket series

Indian media might get a lot of things wrong, but when it wants to, it gets things like timing perfectly right. Bang on 26/11, the anniversary of the Mumbai Terror attacks, Indian media leaked a source based news that Indian Government had given the go ahead for an Indo-Pak series.1This news was met with widespread anger, especially since it had come on the Terror attacks anniversary. So did the Government actually do this? We go back to 24th November when one of the first versions of this news came up. It was reported that the Pakistani Government had given the green signal for such a series. 2 days later, exactly on 26/11, Indian media broke this news that even the Indian Government had given the go ahead. This was blared by almost every media house and there was tremendous uproar on social media.

Just before midnight, on 26/11 itself, the Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs tweeted that no decision had been taken on the cricket series. Till today i.e. the 6th of January 2015 there has been no movement on this aspect. In fact on 28th November itself, news came that Government was unlikely to give the nod. On 3th November MoS Home Ministry Kiren Rijiju said no such discussion had taken place. So how did this happen? Is it a coincidence that Pakistan Government gives green signal 2 days before 26/11 and Indian media cooks up a story of Indian approval exactly on 26/11?

6. BJP had blocked the same GST bill for many years while in opposition. (Hence Congress blocking was justified)

The GST bill is considered to be the biggest tax reform in Independent India. It is expected to resolve a lot of issues and end many inefficiencies in the current tax system. In such a scenario, it was seen that the Congress was blocking this bill repeatedly on different pretexts ranging from minor technical issues to National Herald. To somehow defend this stand of the Congress, MSM invented the excuse that BJP too was guilty of blocking the same. This was the favourite counterpoint of anchors on any TV debate.

But MSM deliberately hid a few aspects from the viewers. Firstly, besides BJP states, even non-BJP states had opposed the UPA’s GST bill. States like the Congress-led ruling UDF government in Kerala, Non-BJP ruled Tamil Nadu. Non-BJP ruled Orissa and Congress ruled Maharashtra and Haryana had opposed various aspects of GST at multiple occasions. Obviously, they must have had some major problems with the bill which led to such unity across party lines.

And problems they did have. The states wanted Alcohol and Petrol out of GST, Entry tax to continue and some sort of guarantee from Centre for potential revenue loss. These issues were resolved only by the NDA Government in December 2014 when they decided to keep Petroleum and Alcohol out, and agreed to a 1% additional tax to compensate states for losses. It was only after this revised GST bill was presented that the states agreed.

So the MSM argument fell flat on its face because Non-BJP states had also opposed UPA’s GST bill and secondly, UPA’s GST bill was different from what NDA had proposed.

7. Narendra Modi’s clothes: Rs 10 lakh suit and others

Yes, not foreign policy, not economic policy, not reforms, but PM Modi’s attire was the topic of discussion for our esteemed media on multiple occasions this year. This is an inconsequential topic in all fairness, but Indian media’s fixation on this issue has forced our hand to list out their lies.

First up came the biggest lie related to Modi’s clothes: The Rs 10 lakh monogrammed suit. This lie spiralled out of control as it reached opposition politicians. We had covered it here in detail, showing how our media calculated the price of this suit based on pure speculation. Eventually the person who had gifted this suit to Modi rubbished all such claims.

Next up, our media and eminent journalists decided to focus on Modi’s shawl. Again, pure speculation by the likes of Rana Ayyub and Sagarika Ghose led to a rumour that Modi was wearing a Louis Vuitton shawl. Later, the official Louis Vuitton denied having ever made such a shawl and the same design shawl was found on Flipkart, sold by Vimal.

Modi’s clothes were again under scrutiny when he went to USA. Hindustan Times claimed that he had changed his clothes 4 times for 4 events in a single day in his US trip. Unfortunately for them, the entire trip was being live tweeted (with pics) by the MEA and from the tweets it was clear that the 4 events were spread over 2 separate days and not a single day.

On the face of it such lies and media reports are petty, but these are the kind of stories which go viral and create a completely different impression in the minds of readers

8. Malicious editing of Baba Ramdev’s interview by Sreenivasan Jain

The lie component in this entire episode isnt that big a deal but the real cause for alarm is the brazenness of editing a video in such a way that the question and answer is interchanged, in order to create a furore over the now controversial answer. We had written a separate post on this here.

The other manipulations in the interview can be seen from the above linked post, we will focus here only on the main distortion. First, let us see what actually happened, as per the unedited interview:

1. (Sreenivasan Jain Question 1): The state of farmers is quite poor, other people are also troubled, Modi Government has completed one year, are you satisfied with the running of the Government?

2. (Ramdev Answer 1):  Modi has started well, some of his schemes may take 1, 2 or 5 years to show results. He is involved in nation-building programmes, not vote-bank building programmes. He wants to take India ahead, and is trying with honesty and hard-work. He works for 18-20 hours a day. But he must also start work which creates vote-banks (i.e. for the backward and downtrodden people).

3. (Sreenivasan Jain Question 2): Vyapam has come forward, Vasundhara Raje’s and Sushma Swaraj’s issues have come, many Maharashtra Government ministers are accused of scandals. Don’t you think BJP’s image is changing because of these scams, and Modi is silent on all of this?

4. (Ramdev Answer 2): I had supported Modi. You can see my tapes from before, I have said, without Modi, BJP is nothing. I am not a BJP spokesperson, I am self made, I am not BJP’s baba. (Now Sreenivasan Jain probes baba repeatedly, and asks him to comment on Modi’s silence. Ramdev avoids for a long time, and finally replies) From my side, no comments. We should comment, only when the matter is more clear. Scams should not happen, and scamsters are the enemies of the entire country. Till things are not clear, making premature statements is not correct. I don’t want to get into a new controversy.

Sreenivasan Jain did showed his first question, and then showed Ramdev’s second answer! He completely deleted the first answer which was on how Modi’s Government has performed, and instead shows the answer which relates to the various scams. This was noticed only because Baba Ramdev had the presence of mind to independently record the entire interview. Not only did Jain continue as an employee of NDTV after this, he even won the ‘Journalist of the Year’ award at the RedInk journalism awards, given by the Press Club.

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Media Lies of 2015 In detail:

January 2015: 7 Lies

February 2015: 8 Lies

March 2015: 9 Lies

April 2015: 18 Lies

May 2015: 20 Lies

June 2015: 20 Lies

July 2015: 27 Lies

August 2015: 25 Lies

September 2015: 24 Lies

October 2015: 23 Lies

November 2015: 22 Lies

December 2015: 17 Lies

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Gaurav
Gaurav
co-founder, OpIndia.com

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