We live in an age where everything is within the realm of possibility, especially in the field of journalism. The community of journalists world over, like little children who spill the milk deliberately and then look away pretending that their little brother did it, have gotten into the habit of spreading fake news and pretending to be the harbingers of virtue. They often sell their pens for pocket change while keeping up the pretence of sitting on their high moral horse. Paid news is passed off as analysis, Islamists are hailed as feminists, terrorism is dressed up as revolution, terrorists are branded as headmasters’ sons and loving fathers, the sovereignty of the nation is sacrificed at the altar of political patronage and the last shred of ethics is discarded like a dirty tissue that has outlived its utility.
On similar lines, Suhasini Haider, The Hindu journalist tweeted today announcing that it was partnering with BBC to protect its readers from disinformation.
— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) September 7, 2019
The article read:
The Hindu is partnering with the BBC and other leading global news and technology organisations in new industry collaboration to tackle disinformation. The collaboration was announced by the BBC and the partners in the early hours of Saturday.
Under this collaboration, news and technology majors will work together to protect their audiences and users from disinformation, particularly around crucial events such as elections.
Irony is wasted on the stupid, and that The Hindu and British Broadcasting Corporation don’t recognise the elephantine moronity of the two publications joining hands to combat fake news, is one amusing aspect of the fiasco that is bound to deliver some chuckles through the ages.
The Hindu attempting to combat disinformation is much like Charles Manson giving sermons of racial harmony and co-existence. The very organisation that pioneered the helter-skelter of fake news is now attempting to convince people that they care about their audience getting accurate information, especially during important events like the elections.
While The Hindu keeps up pretences and the rest of the ‘liberal’ media clap like chattering monkeys, it would bode well to travel back in time and remember the times that The Hindu itself has behaved like the greatest purveyors of fake news.
One recalls how the Editor of The Hindu had tweeted screenshots from a fake CBSE website to claim that the official Government of India website had a badly written note to students. Of course, he had later deleted his tweet but not before ‘liberals’ had abused Smriti Irani, the then HRD Minister.
The Hindu had then lied blatantly to insinuate that the government of India is not working towards realising the dream of cashless economy. The Hindu’s unbridled hate is such, that they had even got slammed by the Greek Embassy for misquoting a Greek Minister in an anti-demonetisation article.
The clarification was nothing but an indictment of the style of reporting of Suhasini Haider and The Hindu. As was made evident by the Greek authorities, they were anguished by the fact that the report misquoted the Minister which led to an extreme oversimplification of what he wanted to actually say and stated that he did not wish to make any judgement based on a country’s internal policies of which he has no knowledge of. The fact that The Hindu, which originally reported the news, had to carry a clarification which in itself slammed The Hindu, gives us a hint as to the amount of criticism and pressure they must have been under, from the Greek embassy and officials. It is very likely that they felt extremely upset that their foreign minister was used as a pawn by Suhasini Haider, to settle domestic scores in India.
In 2016, The Hindu also had to publish a clarification and an apology after it had shamelessly misinterpreted the answer given by the I&B Ministry.
The Hindu has also spread fake news that had international ramifications. In 2017,
The Hindu had reported Michael Pillsbury as saying: Trump has declined Dalai Lama’s request for a meeting’. This news item was preceded by another report based on the same quote, titled: “Is Trump preparing to change the script on Tibet?”. This obviously had larger ramifications for the US-China relationship and Trump’s foreign policy on this tricky aspect.
Soon, Pillsbury denied making such a statement and The Hindu had to pull down both their articles that peddled fake news.
The Hindu had also twisted the words of a father of a terrorist who had refused to accept the body of his son in order to insinuate that the terrorist may have been innocent and after the footbridge in Elphinstone, Mumbai had collapsed, The Hindu had concocted news of a bystander molesting a victim stuck in the stampede. This news was later retracted by the paper.
While there is a long list of such fake news that has been peddled by The Hindu, the one of most prominence was that of the Rafale deal. A lie carefully and maliciously concocted to undermine India’s national interest and the Modi government right before the 2019 general elections.
On February 8th, The Hindu had published a note from defence ministry in its efforts to help Rahul Gandhi in derailing the Rafale deal. The note contained a note a defence ministry official who had objected to Prime Minister’s office enquiring the progress of the deal, although that officer was not involved in the negotiations of the deal. The Hindu wanted to project that there was opposition to the Rafale deal in the defence ministry and only the Prime minister pushing for it. In doing so, the newspaper had cropped a vital part in the same document, a note by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. The then defence minister had written that the officer was overreacting, and offices of Indian PM and French President were just monitoring the progress of the deal.
Immediately after the Hindu report, ANI had published the full document, which had proved that N Ram had used a cropped version of the document in his article.
Even the clarification issued by The Hindu was bunkum and was comprehensively debunked proving that The Hindu not only cropped the image of the document used but also digitally manipulated it.
While The Hindu was at the forefront of spreading the Rafale lie, the Supreme Court had given the deal a clean chit.
The Hindu, after getting caught for deliberately cropping the internal note of the Ministry of Defense to do a hit job against the Narendra Modi government, the media organisation has yet again resorted to peddling half-truths to wash away former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s blunder of not only refusing to accept a seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) but also gifting it to China.
The Hindu, which often peddles leftist ideals, published an article with half-facts to state that former Prime Minister Nehru had categorically denied receiving any formal or informal offer of a seat for India in the UN Security Council. Citing its own report dated September 28, 1955, the Hindu went on to claim that Nehru categorically denied that a UNSC seat was ever offered to India. This lie was comprehensively debunked as well.
While the saga of The Hindu spreading fake news is endless and the examples cited here are merely the tip of the iceberg, what makes the fact that The Hindu is attempting to combat misinformation even more hilarious is that they are joining hands with the BBC in this endeavour.
BBC had recently published a ‘research’ paper on fake news which had created quite the brouhaha. The research was conducted based on shoddy methodology, based on questionable sources and had been comprehensively debunked by OpIndia.com.
After massive uproar against the report where they willy-nilly concluded that Nationalism drives fake news, the BBC responded to The Better India’s email that raised an objection against their name being included in the pro-BJP fake news purveyors list. The BBC then acknowledged that they had made an error in including their name. They had asserted that the website’s name had been removed from the ‘research’ and attributed it to ‘human error’.
Then, the BBC had pulled its research down with the website showing a 404 error. After publishing it again and pulling it down again, the BBC finally managed to upload the “research” again, however, it continued to have glaring loopholes. What was interesting was that they had included a paragraph that essentially retracted their earlier conclusion that “Nationalism was the driving factor behind fake news”.
The BBC had admitted in its amended report that they cannot really say whether nationalism is the driving force behind Fake News or not. They really do say that and yet the organization has issued no apology for its previous grandiose comments.
It must be kept in mind that this was added when the new research report was published after 30 hours of it being pulled down temporarily. This paragraph was not there in their original research paper. The research paper states:
“This study –being qualitative- cannot tell us the relative importance of each of these factors and how they will vary across different population groups. What it does tell us is that all of these factors will play some role. So it could well be the case that for young people the motivation of civic duty plays much more strongly than their socio-political identities- but we think it likely that both of these factors will apply.”
The researchers clearly state that they cannot compare the relative influence of the factors associated with Fake News.
In fact, after BBC’s shameless vilification of nationalists and subsequent retraction, OpIndia had listed 20 times that BBC had shamelessly peddled fake news.
One, of course, recalls how BBC had shown Chechnya footage during the Hazratbal operation in Kashmir to insinuate that Indian forces were firing at the shrine and their recent shenanigans in Kashmir as well which have been comprehensively debunked by the armed forces. The BBC’s shenanigans in Kashmir did not start recently, but in the 1990s with Indian Media maintaining stoic silence throughout.
With such antecedents, one can only chuckle when The Hindu and BBC join hands to combat fake news.
India has moved beyond bowing down to the Lutyens elite. The truth has often prevailed over the propaganda that elements like The Hindu and BBC try to peddle. Their latest pretence of combating fake news while being the greatest purveyors of fake news too shall meet the same fate with readers being far more informed as astute now. We can only request The Hindu and BBC to beg themselves to not be dumb enough to assume that their charade will not be called out by their own readers.