Fact checking begins at home : Times Group should fact check itself before busting other ‘fake news makers’

Times of India has recently announced that it is launching a new web show called ‘Fake Bole Kauwa Kaate”. The news was recently shared by Times group Chairman Vineet Jain.

Which is a very necessary step, considering the amount of fake news being peddled with impunity by individuals as well as news channels. But there is a serious question here, will TOI track and correct its own murky history of fake news peddling?

Let us catch a glimpse of TOI’s glorious track record of spreading fake news and misleading headlines.

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On March 21, TOI ran an article headlined “Siddaramaiah makes BJP admit that loans to industrialists were written off”. In an attempt to confuse readers between write-off and waive-off, it forgot to specify the distinct difference and concocted evidence where there was none. This, in spite of the fact that the BJP Karnataka handle did explain the difference.

On the very next day, their attempt at running a misleading headline was called out by none other than the Indian Army. TOI had branded a burglar arrested in Delhi as a ‘suspended army man’. Turns out, he was not an army man but a civilian.

Their gaffes are sadly not limited to misleading headlines. In February, the Air Traffic Controller Guild of India had demanded legal action taken against TOI for erroneous reporting of an incident which they termed was an attempt to tarnish the image of ATC staff. TOI had falsely attributed an incident of two air crafts coming dangerously close to the ATC staff while it was reportedly not the case.

The video of their first fake news busting show narrates the incident that involved the fake news of a statue being labelled a 1000-year-old alien. TOI seems to have forgotten that in the past they had labelled a JCB street loader that is used by municipalities to clear garbage and mud as a snowplough! They had run a whole story claiming that the Shahjahanpur municipality is involved in corruption and they have been wasting money buying snowploughs for a town that sees 45 degrees of heat.

In 2015, TOI had falsely quoted Amit Shah as saying that it will take 25 years for ‘achhe din’ to come, which was a brazen lie.

They have in the past, retracted their reports and apologised for the error, but considering the readership base and speed with which news travels nowadays, usually, the damage is done by the time news outlets retract.

They had even tried to brand a clash between Shia and Sunni Muslims as a ‘mob attack on minority community’, a clear attempt to pass it as a Hindu-Muslim riot.

TOI was also one of the major news outlets that incessantly ran the ‘semen filled balloon’ story, never pausing to think that how can the girls who claimed such even be sure that the liquid inside contained semen or how a balloon can be filled with semen? Apparently, basic common sense takes a back seat when outrage is necessary. It took a forensic laboratory report to convince the news outlets that there was no semen in the balloons whatsoever.

Very recently, Union Minister Uma Bharti was misquoted by many news outlets, including that belonging to the Times Group in an attempt to paint her as anti-Dalit. These outlets had taken only a portion f her statement and twisted it to create catchy headlines.

The new video show is possibly an aftermath of the recent incident when TOI itself became a victim of fake news circulation when a photoshopped version of their own headline was widely circulated in the media. Though the claims of the new show that it is the first of its kind are totally false as many news channels, especially regional and Hindi channels do run shows to bust fake news circulated on social media (Like ABP News’ Viral Sach), the show claims to have partnered with 3 ‘major’ fake news busting sites of the country. SM Hoax Slayer, Boomlive.com and quite interestingly, Prateek Sinha run ALT News, which is a repeat fake news peddler itself. Interestingly, AltNews is also funded by Anti-India propagandist Arundhati Roy, who is herself notorious for spreading fake news and compromising India’s interests.

The list is only indicative, of course. The saga of the Times Group peddling fake news is endless. It is thus interesting that the very people who spread the fake news with impunity are today pretending to be crusaders against fake news.

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