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The Quint’s biased and wayward journalism may hurt Bloomberg’s global brand

There are way too many controversies, from biased reporting to financial irregularities, related with The Quint and its founder. Does Bloomberg not care about its brand image?

Raghav Bahl, founder of Quintillion Media Pvt. Ltd which runs news website, signed a joint venture agreement with New York based Bloomberg LP in April 2016 to launch a co-branded digital product – BloombergQuint. According to the deal, Raghav Bahl will own 74% stake and Bloomberg the remaining 26%; the pact is for a 10-year period.

However, The owner of The Quint, Raghav Bahl is an individual of suspect credibility who has recently been subject of Income Tax raids for allegation of engaging in tax evasion and money laundering. It remains a mystery how such controversies don’t appear to impact the career of media personalities.

It is not just about Mr. Bahl, even his website The Quint, through its skewed brand of journalism is fishing in troubled waters. This may negatively impact Bloomberg’s illustrious brand which signals trust and neutrality built over years of passionate work in the field of Media, Business and Philanthropy.

Recently I came to know that Mr. Michael Bloomberg is possibly considering a presidential run in 2020. These pernicious associations with The Quint might hurt his credibility and jeopardise his standing as neutral person vis-a-vis affairs of a foreign country. This assumes an oversized importance in the backdrop of current investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

I am not sure if my article will reach him, but I just want him to know that the followings are some the concerns about the politically motivated journalism being produced by The Quint in India:

  • The Quint has earned notoriety for being a constant source of misinformation and agenda driven news
  • In its attempt to sensationalize stories, The Quint has often resorted to blatant lies, doctored videos, half truths and twisted statements of individuals
  • Further, instead of reporting facts, The Quint perpetuates a narrative that will help a particular political party and even on occasions undermine national security. Such reporting is also hurting the chances of BloombergQuint getting a license for starting a TV Channel
  • The writers at The Quint have used violent rhetoric on social media against the national leadership which is uncharacteristic of a media house

If someone thinks I am making up these charges, I have collected several examples which highlight the malpractice The Quint has indulged in, in the name of journalism. Here are some of those:

1. Kulbhushan Jadhav branded as an Indian Spy

  • A story written on Jan 6, 2018 by The Quint’s Political & Opinion Editor, Chandan Nandy was taken down
  • The Quint published an article detailing how their sources confirmed that Kulbhushan Jadhav was an Indian spy, something the Indian Government and the RAW vehemently denied
  • The story claimed that two former RAW chiefs said that they were opposed to the recruitment of Jadhav as a spy
  • Pakistani government & media lapped up the story as gospel truth & even officially claimed that Nandy had gone missing

2. Soldier commits suicide after The Quint report

  • In Feb 2017, Poonam Mahajan’s covert reporting for The Quint led to Lance Naik Roy Mathew’s suicide at the Deolali Cantonment
  • “Preliminary investigations have now revealed that the suicide may be a result of series of events which were triggered by the media personnel managing to videograph the deceased by asking leading questions on his duties as a buddy (Sahayak System) without his knowledge. It is very likely that the guilt factor of letting down his superiors or conveying false impression to an unknown individual, led (him) to take the extreme step” – an Army statement said.
  • According to media reports, she was charged with criminal trespass & abetment to suicide under sections of Official Secrets Act (OSA)

3. Writers at The Quint wishing death to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

  • A contributing writer to The Quint, Suprateek Chatterjee had tweeted these malicious & menacing birthday greeting to PM Narendra Modi. He was fired by Quint subsequently for his shocking act
  • Another writer at The Quint, Vikas Malhotra, in his tweet wrote he prefers political assassinations to create history, as he wished a sniper to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was campaigning in Varanasi
The original tweet has been deleted. Screenshot thanks to this tweet.

4. Income Tax raids at The Quint founder Raghav Bahl’s house over alleged tax evasion

  • I-T raids were carried out and allegation of tax evasion as well as money laundering has surfaced against Raghav Bahl
  • Raj Kumar Modi, managing director of PMC FinCorp, a shell company in which Raghav Bahl had invested his money, recently gave a statement. He has alleged that Bahl had converted unaccounted black money/cash to cheque—without paying any taxes—by booking Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) of more than ₹100 crore in PMC Fincorp. IT officials claim that this is strong evidence unearthed to support their earlier suspicions
  • Raj Kumar Modi further said that Bahl’s chartered accountant Mohan Lal had given him ₹100 crore in cash “to convert into white”. This ₹100 crore was allegedly used by Modi’s Kolkata-based shell companies to buy shares of PMC FinCorp at jacked-up prices from Bahl.
  • It was also earlier reported, that Bahl had allegedly made ₹114 crore out of an investment of ₹3.03 crore made in a penny stock company called PMC Fincorp that was promoted by a certain Raj Kumar Modi in 2011. IT officials at the time had also alleged that herein lies a matter of tax evasion in the name of long-term capital gains
  • Raj Kumar Modi named Raghav Bahl and his wife (Ritu Kapoor), as the major beneficiaries of his money laundering operations through PMC Fincorp. “So far as I remember, Ritu Kapoor and Raghav Bahl got Rs 100 crore converted,” Modi said in his statement.

5. Soft on Terror; reports and articles that humanise terrorists

While The Quint has published articles that argued that Hindu festival of Holi has a ‘terror‘ angle, it has humanised real terrorists. The following two screenshots are enough:

Raghav Bahl humanises terrorist
The Quint introduces us to softer side of a terrorist
Quint on Osama
The Quint pays tribute to Osama Bin Laden

6. Misreporting on Surgical Strikes

In a story done by Mr. Chandan Nandy on Sept 21 2016, The Quint falsely claimed that Surgical Strikes happened on Sept 21, 2016 along with claims like – Army had used helicopters to cross the LoC and had manage to kill “at least 20 terrorists”. Strangely, this story was published before the Indian Army came out with the details thereby potentially jeopardising the lives of the soldiers.

However, On Sep 29th, The Director General of military operations of the Indian Army briefed the media and said India had carried out surgical strikes along the Line of Control on the night of September 28 & 29, 2016.

The Quint subsequently published a revised version of the story saying saying the “first” such strike had happened on Sept 20-21, 2016. Also, changed details that the Indian Army had not flown helicopters across the LoC & brought down the number of militants allegedly neutralised “between 10 and 12”.

7. Misreporting on Demonetisation

On Dec 14, 2016, post demonetisation, an article, again by Mr. Chandan Nandy, made a sensational evidence free claim linking the demonetisation decision by Narendra Modi government to American aid agency, USAID, with links to CIA. The story has since been taken down, but Mr. Nandy has not deleted his tweet:

8. Giving cover and space to Urban Naxals

After various so-called activists who were accused of working in tandem with Left Wing terrorists, were arrested, The Quint tried to whitewash them through their reporting. It also ran an opinion piece by Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, which claimed the arrests were a ‘witch-hunt’.

It also insisted that the Modi Government, out of its sheer insecurity is claiming that extreme left wing ideologues are masquerading as teachers and activists:

Pro-Naxal article in The Quint
Pro-Naxal article in The Quint

9. Pro-Rahul Gandhi, anti-Narendra Modi bias

There are many examples of this, but I will cite just a few incidents:

  • The Quint made a fancy video of Rahul’s statements at the London event. In that video, they deliberately omitted the part where Rahul says he has no details of Doklam and made their report about Rahul’s statements where he criticises PM Modi’s ‘handling’ of the issue and where he equates RSS with Muslim Brotherhood.
  • The Quint posted a video titled, ‘Dear PM Modi, You got India’s military history wrong’ claiming that PM Modi has got his facts wrong in stating that General Thimayya was the Army Chief in 1948 and Krishna Menon was the defence minister. The fact is, PM Modi never made any such claims. PM Modi mentioned that the victory was won ‘under the leadership’ of Gen Thimayya.
  • Unnao Rape Case: The Quint used the Unnao rape case to take a cheap shot at PM Modi by publishing a sarcastic story with only a headline and no text claiming ‘PM is yet to speak’ on 13th April 2018 while being fully aware that PMO had intervened on 12 April itself, as they had reported themselves:
Biased reporting by The Quint
(top) The Quint mocks Prime Minister on Unnao rape case, (bottom), The Quint knew a day before that Prime Minister had acted in the case.

These are just 9 examples, and there are many more. The ball is now in Bloomberg’s court.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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