Controversial scribe Barkha Dutt, back in her new avatar, has been busy publishing new propaganda videos for Shekhar Gupta’s news outlet ‘The Print‘. Dutt has recently come out with another video to deliver her verdict on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his relationship with the media.
In her latest video, Barkha Dutt discusses the relationship between former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the media during his tenure from 2004-2014 and delivers her judgement by saying that Singh was one of the most liberal Prime Minister of the country. She claims that he never tried to silence the media. Barkha Dutt goes on to say that Manmohan Singh during his tenure never tried to shut down channels of communication or access to government sources while subtly hinting that the present government has tried to keep media away from scrutinising the government.
She hails Manmohan Singh for upholding the civility by regularly meeting journalists and interacting with the press as against PM Modi, who is yet to speak to the media in an open press conference. In the video, Barkha Dutt has delivered her verdict that Manmohan Singh was a true liberal and proclaims that one does not have to wait for history to judge him.
However, Barkha Dutt forgets the fact that it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was no less intolerant towards the press contrary to what Barkha Dutt claims. In fact, Singh had tried harshly to silence NDTV, where Dutt had spent most of her journalistic career. In her urgency to issue a certificate to Manmohan Singh for being ‘liberal with the media, she deliberately chooses to let go of the fact that former PM Singh indeed had strict control over the media narratives.
Recently, we had reported on how Manmohan Singh during his tenure as the Prime Minister had pressurised Barkha Dutt’s former employers NDTV to pull of a story which could have shown the UPA government in a bad light.
A former journalist with NDTV, Samarendra Singh had revealed how back in 2005, a year after Dr Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister, he was forced to pull down an NDTV story which was based on ‘report card’ of the ministers of the UPA. The incident has also been discussed in Sanjaya Baru’s book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, where it has been clearly stated that how Prannoy Roy, the promoter of the NDTV was schooled by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for doing a story on evaluating the performance of few cabinet ministers who had received a negative review.
In May 2005, when the UPA-1 was reaching its first anniversary, reports had started appearing in the media that Dr Singh was reviewing the performance of his ministers and NDTV had ran a story that Minister of External Affairs, Natwar Singh, a Gandhi Parivar loyalist had secured a ‘low score’ on the PM’s report card and was likely to be dropped from the cabinet. Reportedly Manmohan Singh had burst into anger against Prannoy Roy and made sure that the story was dropped.
If the act of bullying a media organisation and directing them not to pursue a story that shows the government in a bad light is not considered an act of violation of freedom of press then Barkha Dutt should not claim any moral high ground in judging the present NDA government which has been far more liberal in terms of engaging with the media. This, despite the fact that left-wing dominated media has always spewed venom against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Barkha Dutt also overplays the fact of Manmohan Singh being liberal to the media during his tenure as Prime Minister. A notable incident when Arnab Goswami was stopped by the PMO officials from questioning the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proves the fact that Manmohan Singh had no less contempt for the media.
In her attempt to glorify Manmohan Singh, Barkha Dutt may also have liberally interpreted the ‘openness’ of the UPA government as it had allowed the likes of Barkha Dutt and others to play a larger role in deciding the selection of cabinet ministers during the UPA government, as opposed to the present government who has ignored and shown the door to several journalists-lobbyists of the Congress era.
Barkha Dutt, a quintessential clickbait journalist, has often resorted to such shoddy journalism to stay in relevance despite the fact that her credibility as a journalist has taken a deep dive. As there are only a few months left to the crucial general elections, Barkha Dutt has arrived on the scene to pursue what she does the best- the propaganda.