On Thursday, NDTV ran a discussion on the Supreme Court’s recent order on the clean-up of the criminalisation of politics. In the show anchored by Vishnu Som, NDTV displayed an infographic to depict that BJP as a political party has a higher percentage of lawmakers with a criminal background than other parties. However, that was not true.
In the infographic displayed by NDTV, the channel had compared five political parties, which included BJP, Congress, Janata Dal-United, DMK and Trinamool Congress. Interestingly, out of all the five parties, BJP has the least percentage of MPs with criminal charges (39%) while Janata Dal united has 81% of their MPs with criminal records.
The graph displayed by NDTV, however, displayed the BJP bar with 39% far larger than the JDU bar with 81%.
After being pulled up for their lies, NDTV took to Twitter to issue a clarification. The channel tweeted a different table and apologised for their error.
We apologise for an incorrect representation on air yesterday of each party’s share of MPs with criminal records. This is the correct graphic. pic.twitter.com/RXBcNLABHJ
— NDTV (@ndtv) February 14, 2020
In the ‘graphic’ that was uploaded by NDTV, one can see that they have tweaked the graph that they displayed on television and converted it into a table instead, that shows in ascending order, the highest number of parliamentarians with criminal backgrounds instead of the percentage.
Even with this correction, NDTV has displayed its subtle bias that was even called out by several on social media.
When NDTV displayed their original graph, it was clear that their focus was the percentage of parliamentarians with a criminal background. If NDTV had to correct itself, the ethical thing to do would be to rectify the same graph that they had displayed on television and re-issue it with an apology.
Had they done that and corrected the original graph, the bar for JDU would have been the highest with 81% MPs with criminal records. However, in their clarification, they focussed on the number of MPs, which again put BJP in the highest bracket even though the percentage of MPs with a criminal record for the BJP would be the lowest.
Even psephologist Yashwant Deshmukh called out NDTV for their inherent bias.
Errrrr…even this is NOT a correct “graphic”. This is just a correct “table”. Not every TV gfx is Graphic in real sense. If one wishes to undo what was done, then one must correct the SAME graphic and release again. The towers would be a good story to tell. https://t.co/fJx4eYu0ge
— Yashwant Deshmukh 🇮🇳 (@YRDeshmukh) February 14, 2020
Deshmukh said, “If one wishes to undo what was done, then one must correct the SAME graphic and release again. The towers would be a good story to tell”.
Essentially, the NDTV seems to have made up its mind to paint the BJP in a bad light and if the bar graph focussing on percentages did not do the job, they just changed the parameter.
This is, of course, not to say that the fact that BJP has a high number of MPs with a criminal background, even if the percentage is low is not a cause for concern. The media should question every party that fields candidates with a questionable past. However, NDTV first displayed its bias by showing 81% as lesser than 39% and then, when called out, focussed on the number of MPs to ensure that either way, BJP could feature at the top.
Further, it is also pertinent to note that the number of MPs in BJP, regardless of the parameter is bound to be highest since the number of total MPs that BJP has in the parliament far exceeds any other party. However, if an honest analysis of intent is to be done, one would ideally focus on the percentage.
The other grouse that several people had with NDTV was that they lied big and retracted small, which is to say that they lied on television and rectified themselves (even with their bias) on Twitter instead of their television show. That, however, does not come as a surprise since that seems to be the norm with the mainstream media considering they believe they can lie brazenly and easily get away with it.
NDTV is known to peddle blatant lies. NDTV anchor Sreenivasan Jain has done so on several occasions in the past. He has also edited interviews of his guests in order to favour his preordained narrative. He is also known for his false equivalences and equating online speech with actual violence. There have been numerous occasions when it has spread lies that have undermined national interests. Its reputation of being fake news peddlers is such that it was even mocked in an American show.