Once is a mistake, twice is a pattern, thrice is a habit. Shekhar Gupta’s digital news venture ThePrint, published yesterday claiming that I&B Minister Smriti Irani wants to track the movement of journalists through RFID cards.
The article went ahead to claim that the Press Information Bureau is working to issue Radio Frequency Identification Cards (RFID) to journalists. The article also mentioned that Frank Noronha, the Principal-Director General of the PIB had confirmed the move. It claimed that The Print has communicated with Noronha and received a reply from him and Noronha, in his response, has stated that the proposal has not been implemented yet. For reasons best known to Gupta, ThePrint even wrote to Home Ministry when the imaginary proposal was sent by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry headed by Smriti Irani.
His claim, however, was promptly refuted by Frank Noronha himself. The Principal Spokesperson of the government of India and Principal Director General of the PIB, in his tweet in response to Shekhar Gupta’s story, stated the story as completely false and called it an ‘outright figment of imagination’.
This is totally incorrect/false/fake. There is no such instructions given to me by the Hon’ble Minister of I&B to track movement of journalists through RFID cards. Outright figment of imagination. ! https://t.co/sWanPY6ZXd
— Frank Noronha (@DG_PIB) April 4, 2018
However, despite the rebuttal, Gupta has not offered any explanation or defence of the misleading article with unverifiable information. In fact, he has not even acknowledged the rebuttal in an update in the original article nor has he written an article on the rebuttal. It appears like the wilful omission of facts by Gupta. Not only that, he pushed the same article in the morning ‘news capsule’ without the refutal details, thereby peddling a news which has been called out as fake by the spokesperson himself.
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) April 5, 2018
Incidentally, Gupta, who is clearly peddling fake news, was one of the first celebrity journalists to resist the guidelines on curbing fake news, which now stands withdrawn, issued by I&B Ministry led by Smriti Irani.