The mainstream media has been the biggest purveyor of fake news for quite some time now. It has been evident that the fake news was driven as much by malice as it was by sheer incompetence. Now, there finally appears to be an admission of sorts on the horizon here. An article on The Print, the media venture of Shekhar Gupta of the Editors Guild of India, argues that liberals ought to embrace fake news in their war on Prime Minister Modi. To further his argument, the article in The Print used a paper written by Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews for RAND Corporation, an American think-tank.
The Print argued, “Across the world, fire-hosing of falsehood is becoming a powerful propaganda tool. Those who want to defeat such propaganda may have to do their own fire-hosing of falsehood. As the Hindi saying goes, iron cuts iron. When public opinion is being manipulated with fake news and lies, the opposition cannot win the game with mere fact-checking. It may have to do its own rapid and continuous misinformation with little regard for the truth.”
The author did not stop there. He went on to call for curbs on freedom of expression of individuals and crackdown on political opponents. He suggested that the opposition parties “attack the opponent’s supply chain of lies. If opposition-ruled states are not cracking down on fake news and communal hate-mongers in their states, for example, they’re making a huge mistake.” The Print tries to pass it off as a noble cause but it is pretty clear what he means.
Since what constitutes ‘hate speech’ is completely left to the will of the interpreter, the government can persecute its political nemesis with impunity. For instance, during the Arnab Goswami versus Antonia Maino (Sonia Gandhi) saga, the Congress party has equated it to an attempt at stoking communal tensions. Thus, what The Print run by Shekhar Gupta essentially argues for is the persecution of supporters of Narendra Modi by states where opposition parties are in power such as in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
To be clear, the mainstream media has been peddling fake news for quite some time now and all the time, the fake news is geared towards benefiting only one section of the political spectrum, which does not happen to be the BJP. The Print of Shekhar Gupta has been at the forefront of it often enough. Now the reason for it has become imminent. They are so convinced of their moral superiority that they believe it is permissible for them to deliberately spread fake news to achieve political objectives. This is the same author who was earlier accused of fabricating quotes to whitewash the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. It appears that Shivam Vij, and by extension Shekhar Gupta, believe that spreading fake news is justified as long as it is dedicated to defeating Narendra Modi and Hindutva.