Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) has sent legal notices to Cobrapost, The Wire and The Quint for defamation for the alleged sting ‘Operation 136’ which alleged that media outlets were willing to promote Pro-Hindutva content in lieu of monetary favours. In its notice, ZMCL described the sting as ‘nothing but a planned conspiracy and set of self-servicing false, fabricated and baseless piece of writing, which in itself is based on tampered, doctored and edited videos’.
The notice to The Wire says, “The deliberate manner in which you the Noticees have carried out the story in question by publishing the impugned articles makes it abundantly clear that you the Noticees have failed to act as per the principles of journalistic ethics and have only exhibited your biased and prejudiced mindset against our client for ulterior motives”. It further says, “It appears that the impugned articles containing defamatory contents have been electronically published by you the Noticees with the specific knowledge and intention to defame our client, by making totally malicious, false, incorrect and defamatory allegations against our client,” the notice says. “As a neutral media house, you were expected to ponder upon the legitimacy of such alleged sting operations as claimed to be genuine by said Mr Pushp Sharma, who had a tainted track record”.
The notice to The Quint states, “The false and baseless averments, suggestions and imputations are result of incorrect and grossly irresponsible reporting and apparent malafide on part of you Noticees”. The notices to the Left-leaning media outlets demand that they pull down the articles from their websites and offer an unconditional apology failing which civil and criminal defamation cases will be filed against them. We had earlier reported that Zee News had claimed to have exposed the agenda of the main man behind the sting, Pushp Sharma, who in the past was arrested for spreading fake news.
We have reported on numerous occasions on The Wire’s failure to uphold the ethics of Journalism. Arfa Khanum Sherwani, a journalist associated with the media outlet, had once claimed that BJP leader Babul Supriyo had threatened to skin Muslims alive. When corrected, she partially retracted her baseless allegations. They had also published a hit job against Railway Minister in an article titled “Promoter of Company in default of Rs. 650 crore has ties to Piyush Goyal, family” which was busted by us. Not to be denied their moment of glory, they came out with another hit job against the same man alleging that the Prime Minister’s Office was kept in the dark about him selling his shares in a privately held company ‘Flashnet’. On another occasion, a comedian, who was allegedly forbidden from mimicking Prime Minister Modi on a show on Star Plus, had confirmed that The Wire had twisted his words and asserted that he was forbidden from mimicking Rahul Gandhi as well, busting the narrative that there was a climate of censorship in the country nurtured by the BJP. The Wire is currently busy fighting an Rs. 100 crore defamation suit filed against them by Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah, for allegedly publishing defamatory content against him.
The Quint has a similar record as well. It had published an article claiming that RAW sources had confirmed to them that Kulbhushan Jadhav was an Indian spy, a claim that the Indian government and RAW have vehemently denied and a narrative that the Pakistani establishment has been peddling. Our ground report had also busted The Quint narrative that the Yamuna floodplain had allegedly become to toxic to farm due to the World Cultural Festival organized by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s AOL. Farmers had also admitted that The Quint distorted their statements and edited them to portray a completely different picture from what they actually said. We had also reported that a man who wanted Prime Minister Modi assassinated was given a platform by The Quint. A sting by the same media outlet had also led to an Army Jawan being found dead.