News18 tries to cover up after wrongly quoting Deepak Parekh over demonetisation

Deepak Parekh, the Chairman of HDFC was one of the business leaders who hailed the government’s demonetisation by calling it a game changer and the biggest of all the big bang reforms.

However, yesterday, TV news channel News18 (also known as CNN-News18) published a post titled “In a major U-Turn Deepak Parekh says Demonetisation has Derailed Economy”.

Screenshot of the News18 tweet over Deepak Parekh
The original headline given by the news channel

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Now if one takes it at face value, it appears that a Chairman of a major bank had changed his views and went from high praise to biting criticism in a matter of days. And that leaves you wondering if Mr. Parekh didn’t think through his statement earlier or some catastrophic events have taken place in the last few days forcing him to change his views.

The article by News18 was published on 7th December at 8:44 PM on its website. But today, even though the URL contains the phrase ‘In a major U turn Deepak Parekh Says Demonetization has derailed the economy’, the title of the article has now changed to “Deepak Parekh Says Demonetisation Has ‘Derailed Economy’ in the Short Term”.

Even the content has been revamped to suit the new title. So what changed?

The answer lies in the report itself. One has to watch the video along with the text in the report, because it remains unchanged. In fact, the title of the video uploaded on the YouTube channel of News18 is still the old one claiming a U-turn by Mr. Parekh.

The video begins with the news anchor saying, “Well, the initial optimism over the big bang move by the PM to scrap the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, ostensibly to tackle black money, patience is now wearing thin. In a stunning U-Turn the HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, who initially hailed the exercise, now says it is derailed the economy.

Then the video cuts to Mr. Parekh’s voice and his first statement one can hear is:

“Demonetisation has derailed the economy for some time, and things will get back to normal, but it will get take a quarter or so.”

Into the conversation he again states that it is a game-changing decision and that there should be some normalcy come January. The anchor then proceeded to ask the Managing Editor of CNBC-TV18 Shereen Bhan as to were people losing faith in demonetisation. And her first statement was:

“Well I think to be fair to Mr Parekh, there is no U-Turn on the part of Mr. Parekh, Mr. Parekh has always maintained as have other corporate leaders, in the long term, which he reiterated to me in a conversation a short while ago, that in the long term while this could be a game changer for the government, in the short term there will be pain for the economy.”

Further by quoting the RBI, Shereen stated that at this moment no one really knows the full implication or the impact of this move.

The News18 news anchor then plays the news clip to Mr. Parekh’s initial interview where he was high praise for the move and then proceeds to ask Shereen Bhan as to if it shows people now questioning as to how the entire move has been implemented. Shereen again proceeded to say that it would be unfair to extrapolate that Mr. Parekh and others have suddenly turned skeptical.

So it was a case where one news channel CNN-News18 was trying to spin an interview conducted by a sister news channel CNBC-TV18 (both belong to the Network18 media group), and the original interviewer Shereen Bhan was clearly not amused over this spinning and twisting.

Also, going by Mr. Parekh’s full statement, by no stretch of imagination can his thoughts be interpreted as a major U-Turn. He was merely stating the adverse phase the economy seems to be going through in the short term. He repeated that demonetisation was a game-changer and hoped that normalcy will return by January.

So finally CNN-News18 took a U-Turn around 9:30 AM today edited the post to depict what Mr. Parekh actually said. However, the channel didn’t provide any clarification over why they edited the headline or the script.

UPDATE: After our article was published, News18 removed both the news report (cached copy) and the video clip from their website and YouTube channel respectively. We could not find any clarification, again, over their latest step.

However, derived reports making similar claims still exist on publications like Network18’s news portal Firstpost, leftist propaganda blog Scroll, and business newspaper Financial Express, and maybe at some other places too. Ideally they should also remove or modify their reports, now that the original source of their information is gone.

However, this is how the network of media functions. One of them makes a wrong claim, and everyone else follows blindly repeating the same claim. Even if the original one makes amends, the misinformation has spread far and damage has been done already.

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