Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Home Opinions Here is why India needs to start fact-checking its election 'experts'

Here is why India needs to start fact-checking its election ‘experts’

We the people have the power to disband this circus. To put these ‘experts’ out of a job. By becoming informed consumers of the news.

Elections are in full swing and everybody wants to know what is going to happen, especially in Uttar Pradesh. This leads to a great demand for ‘experts’, mostly senior journalists who are supposed to have feedback from the ground and possibly contacts and sources within political parties.

So somebody sent me a link to watch a typical debate over the political situation in Uttar Pradesh. Typical TV debate panel with senior journalists posing as ‘experts’, presenting their analysis and predictions. Tired and/or retired leftists talking about the supposed rural distress and supposed jobs crisis. Data-free. Anecdote and ‘mahaul’ based conclusions. In other words, pretty standard fare.

Take, for example, this snippet that I cut out of the video where ‘senior journalist’ Shesh Narayan Singh explains why BJP is in trouble in UP this time (you can see the full video here).

He claims that his analysis is credible because he had correctly predicted the last time that there is a Modi wave in Uttar Pradesh.

- Advertisement -

This bothered me. Because I happened to remember Shesh Narayan Singh’s name and his face from 2014 shows. And I remember that he did not seem optimistic at all about BJP’s prospects at the time. So all I did was a Youtube search for his name and for 2014 elections. And guess what?

I found this other snippet of him speaking on Rajya Sabha TV (full video here) in 2014, explaining that there is no wave for Modi! And that nobody is sure if BJP will be able to win even 3 out of the 32 seats in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

In a delicious bit of irony, both videos I found were from Apr 29: one from Apr 29, 2014 and the other from April 29, 2019. Same man. Exactly five years apart. Claiming the exact opposite of what he said five years ago.

And getting away with it.

This is not about Shesh Narayan Singh in particular. This is not about an individual. I suspect you can find numerous similar examples of ‘senior patrakars’ doing such stuff and getting away with it on a routine basis.

This is about a larger problem of a certain caravan of ‘election astrologers’ : journalists posing as ‘experts’, speaking with little regard for the truth and getting away with it. No competence and no professionalism necessary. And certainly zero accountability.

This would be funny if such analysis by ‘experts’ did not have the potential to influence public opinion. The Election Commission has repeatedly expressed concerns about ‘fake news’ in the election season. Well, nonsensical narratives spread by alleged experts peddling their anecdotes from channel to channel are doing just as much damage, if not more.

Additionally, we should note that sometimes these ‘experts’ make their way to platforms such as Rajya Sabha TV. I do not have information about any specific individuals, but we know that many such ‘experts’ get paid for sharing their ‘expertise’. In case of Rajya Sabha TV, that would be public money. The public has a right to know what makes certain people into election experts and channels such as RSTV and LSTV are duty bound to clarify.

Everybody wants to know the future and nobody actually does. When public curiosity peaks before an election, news channels fill the vacuum with alleged experts and opinion polls. There is a lot of money for a lot of people in this. A veritable industry of bullsh*tters has come up around this. And accountability is practically non-existent.

These are the actual seat predictions for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab by CSDS in Jan 2017, barely more than a month before the election.

Untitled.png

CSDS finds BJP in 2nd place in UP with just 129-139 seats. Miraculously, CSDS also finds SAD+BJP alliance at first place in Punjab and Congress at 2nd place. This is supposed to be from a real agency, one of the most respected in fact. The BJP’s vote share is estimated at just 33%, about 9% short of the correct number of 42%! Most surveys have a 3% margin of error. How does a survey get a voting percentage number wrong by 9%?

The shocking thing seems to be that despite embarrassing failures over and over again, the caravan of election astrologers : experts and pollsters, carries on with their business as if nothing has happened at all. The same faces with the same agendas surface on our TV screens before every election. No ethical standards and no professional consequences for past failures.

We the people have the power to disband this circus. To put these ‘experts’ out of a job. By becoming informed consumers of the news. Ironically, the “news” was supposed to inform people, but that changed a long time ago, didn’t it?

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Related Articles

Trending now

Gujarat: Loudspeaker permission granted by Bhuj Magistrate to Shiv Mandir after it was denied on grounds that coronavirus transmits to sound waves

Bhuj Magistrate has denied permission to use loudspeaker for the holy month of Shravan at a Shiv Mandir on ground that loudspeakers disperse the virus and will spread coronavirus.

The curious case of a ‘Hindi Supremacist’ Twitter account, its Islamist origins and links to widely followed Islamist accounts on the platform

Twitter user Shubham Tripathi which has been trying to fan communal tensions by making regionalist comments is probably run by an Islamist.

Ashok Gehlot reportedly offers to resign from the post of Rajasthan CM after Sachin Pilot’s return to Congress: Reports

Sachin Pilot had recently returned to Congress after meeting with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi

PTI spreads another fake news, misquotes PM Modi on coronavirus cases in India

Prime Minister Modi said that the percentage of active cases of coronavirus cases in India has come down and the recovery rate has come up.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s son Parth Pawar draws flak for welcoming the Ram Mandir and demanding CBI inquiry into the alleged suicide of actor...

The Maharashtra Minority Development minister, Nawab Malik dismissed Parth Pawar’s statements, saying the deputy chief minister’s son is young and inexperienced and that there’s no difference of opinions among the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance members

Karnataka: Outrage across the state as raped minor commits suicide, family demands capital punishment for accused Basheer

The accused Basheer accosted the girl when she was going to a temple to pray for her ailing mother and molested and raped her

Recently Popular

Pakistan: Maulvi rapes child reading Quran in mosque in Sindh province, caught on CCTV

Muslim Cleric in Sindh province in Pakistan on the run after video of hem raping a child inside a mosque emerges, case registered

Who really is Binod? Read how one Youtube comment triggered a bizarre meme fest

The name 'Binod', which has now become the talk of the town and trending on Twitter, originated from a YouTube channel 'Slayy Point'

Reports claim Sushant Singh Rajput’s former manager Disha Salian’s post-mortem report says she was found nude after her death, Mumbai police deny the reports

According to the post-mortem report of Disha Salian, her body was found nude, which was not revealed by the police so far

Rhea Chakraborty leaks WhatsApp conversation to accuse that Sushant Singh Rajput considered his sister Priyanka as ‘pure evil’

Rhea Chakraborty tries to prove that Sushant Singh Rajput did not like his family, releases chat messages with him

Sushant Singh Rajput’s brother-in-law gives a befitting reply to toxic journalism of Shekhar Gupta’s portal

Sushant Singh Rajput's brother-in-law Vishal Kirti on Sunday slammed Shekhar Gupta and his portal for toxic journalism.

DU Professor Apoorvanand mastermind behind the Delhi riots conspiracy, says Delhi riots accused Gulfisha

DU Professor Apoorvanand had already warned the students that riots would ensue and asked them to be prepared with stones, bottles, acid, knives and dry chilli powder

Port Blair submarine OFC empowers islanders, boosts economy and checks China

PM Modi inaugurated the submarine optical fibre cable (OFC) which connects the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to mainland India.

Congress cites PTI’s misquoted tweet to further lies about PM Modi, deletes the tweet when called out

Congress party shared the PTI tweet that misquoted PM Modi to allege that the Prime Minister lied to the nation

Linkedin employee Sourav Paul vows to murder Brahmins, claims it is easier to kill instead of opposing them

LinkedIn Employee Sourav Paul was unapologetic about his vitriol and abused a person when his hatred towards Rama was pointed out.

Rhea Chakraborty called mysterious ‘AU’ 44 times, calls made before and after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death: Reports

Call records of Rhea Chakraborty show that she was in touch with someone whose contact number was stored in her phone with the initials 'AU'

Maharashtra CM’s son involved in Sushant Singh Rajput death case, says Bihar govt’s lawyer: Here are the full details

SC heard Rhea Chakraborty’s plea for the second time in connection with Sushant Singh Rajput death case today

Here is what Sachin Pilot said when an agitated Rajdeep Sardesai insinuated that his rebellion was sponsored by BJP

Sachin Pilot issued a sharp rejoinder after Rajdeep Sardesai suggested that the rebelling Congress MLAs were doing it at the behest of the BJP

Nobody in the family saw his body hanging, don’t trust Mumbai police: Father of Sushant Singh Rajput argues in SC

The Supreme Court has reserved the order in the death case of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput after hearing submissions made by the father

Meerut Police initiates action against a social media user for threatening activist and writer Nidhi Bahuguna

Nidhi Bahuguna was threatened by a social media user for recounting her ancestors’ ordeal in Muslim majority Pakistan

‘With the strength of your experience, our country will win this battle,’ PM Modi holds meeting with CM of ten states with maximum Covid-19...

PM Modi held meeting with Chief Ministers of ten states that contribute to 80% of Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

The curious case of a ‘Hindi Supremacist’ Twitter account, its Islamist origins and links to widely followed Islamist accounts on the platform

Twitter user Shubham Tripathi which has been trying to fan communal tensions by making regionalist comments is probably run by an Islamist.

Connect with us

239,751FansLike
426,463FollowersFollow
295,000SubscribersSubscribe