Propagandists at Leftist website Newslaundry published a sensationalist report on the 10th of December, Thursday, to accuse the government of ‘planting stories’ demonstrating that the new farm laws had support from farmers. The insinuation made by Newslaundry was that the farm laws did not really have support on the ground and the government was engaging in “media management” to save its face.
The gist of the story is that India Today published reports where farmers could be seen offering positive reviews for the newly passed farm laws. Newslaundry does not claim that the stories were false, they did not provide evidence to suggest that the claims being made by India Today is inauthentic or inaccurate in the least. Their grouse is that the information was provided to them by the office of Prakash Javadekar, in-charge of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
As per the report, S Satyanarayanan, media advisor to Javadekar, communicated the information to journalists through WhatsApp. Despite the comments being made based on the report, there isn’t any hint anywhere that the claims made in the India Today report is disputed. The only point of dispute is that India Today appears to have said that it was ‘ground report’ when the information was not sourced from the ground.
But then again, it is a matter that India Today can very well contend. Some of these farmers were featured in videos that were shared by India Today. Thus, if video bytes were shared by the news network, then it does appear that they indeed met the farmers themselves, which would constitute a ground report. “India Today did not “find” these farmers on the ground, as it claimed. They were handed to the channel by the Narendra Modi government,” claims Newslaundry but we could not find India Today claiming that they had “found” these farmers on their own.
On the face of it, it appears as if the leftist propaganda website is creating strawman arguments and then refuting them in order to cast aspersions on the government. But they haven’t produced any evidence to suggest that the farmers are lying or that the farmers are not really farmers at all.
At the end of the day, it was a very mundane incident which Newslaundry blew out of proportion to further its own agenda. What really appears to have happened here is that the office of Prakash Javdekar provided information to journalists that the farm laws were not really opposed by farmers. India Today then chose to verify the information on their own and then they published their findings in a report.
It could have been scandalous if India Today chose to publish the information without verifying its authenticity and the information later turned out to be false. That was not the case here. The main grouse appears to be that the information is true and the source of it.
Newslunadry is not asking the correct questions here. The main question ought to be is that there are clearly farmers who are happy with the newly passed reforms. And it is not surprising given that nearly all major political parties, activists and farmer unions have demanded precisely these reforms at some point or the other. But now that the reforms have been implemented, there suddenly appears to be great anger all of a sudden.
Quite clearly, Newslaundry is angry that a news network chose to highlight the silent support that these reforms have. It cannot really be disputed that the farmer protests is primarily a protest by farmers from Punjab. Not a single other region of the country has seen farmers taking to the streets to protest these laws. Therefore, quite obviously, there are plenty of farmers around who are supportive of these reforms.
Moreover, there are only 1.09 million farming households in Punjab compared to 146 million in the country. That is less than 1 per cent of the total farming households that are in Punjab. And even among them, it’s only a small fraction that has taken to the streets. Is it Newslaundry’s claim that farmers country-wide are in opposition to these laws? If that is indeed the case, then the burden of proof lies with them, not India Today or the government.
Furthermore, only a fool or a malicious clown would claim that India Today is ‘Godi Media’. It has luminaries such as Rajdeep Sardesai and Rahul Kanwal who spew nonsense against the ruling dispensation 24/7. Judging from the conduct of the leftist portal, it seems to be the latter.
Also, the government is perfectly within its right to promote its achievements and demonstrate that its reforms have support on the ground. And there is nothing that suggests that information should be immediately junked simply because it is coming from government sources. Far-Left portals regularly publish dubious claims by unverified sources in order to peddle their flawed narrative against the government; that too, without verifying the claims for themselves.
Newslaundry itself has reached out to regurgitated claims by dubious sources to peddle its agenda. For instance, they reached out to a Pakistani ‘intellectual’ in order to secure material for their agenda against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV. The questions were extremely leading and were tailor-made for a ‘gotcha’ moment and it was clear that they were asked to confirm their own biases rather than reporting objectively on a situation.
On another occasion, Newslaundry published an article where an entire fictitious personality was created in order to peddle its agenda against the NDA Government. Patricia Mukhim, the Editor of The Shillong Times, called them out and said, “It reads like the writers own views being peddled as views of North Easterners..real trashy stuff”.
The propagandist portal has also provided platform to people with extremely problematic opinions for its political agenda. Radical Islamist Sharjeel Usmani, one of their esteemed columnists, was granted bail in September after being accused of inciting riots during the anti-CAA ‘protests’. On yet another occasion, they tried to pressurize a Zee News journalist infected by the Coronavirus to commit to a hitjob against the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhry.
Thus, quite clearly, Newslaundry is open to publishing absolute propaganda and inventing controversies to target the Union Government. And here we have a news network that appears to have verified the information on its own before publishing a report but Newslaundry has a problem with that. It is the sort of clownery that we have come to expect from far left news portals and it isn’t something that ought to surprise us one bit.