In a bid to take on its competition, popular Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak, an organisation operating under the umbrella of TV Today Network, recently ran a social media campaign to highlight how news is a solemn affair for the channel and not an occasion to be turned into a spectacle.
Aaj Tak is running a paid promotional campaign ‘Samachar Tamasha Nahi‘ with hashtag #AajTakSabseTez in which it has ridiculed other news channels for overly dramatising flimsy incidents and portraying itself as a channel that focuses on news and not drama.
Besides overly dramatising events to sensationalise incidents, TV Today Network is also accused of being a fake news purveyor on more occasions than one. So while Aaj Tak sanctimoniously preens on being a no-nonsense news channel, here are 5 incidents when the popular Hindi news channel, along with its sister channel-India Today, were caught spreading fake news, sensationalising mundane occurrences and lowering the standards of journalism.
Aaj Tak anchors sitting on a tractor while interviewing BKU Rakesh Tikait
In an obvious attempt to dramatise its broadcast program, Aaj Tak anchors were recently seen sitting in a tractor while interviewing BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, one of the prominent figures of the ongoing ‘farmers’ protest.
It is pertinent to note that the violence that swept the national capital on Republic Day last month happened during the ‘tractor rally’ carried out by the supporters of Rakesh Tikait and other Farm Union leaders. Several vehicles, including buses, were torched by the rampaging demonstrators as they ran amok breaching barricades and injuring the police personnel.
A section of demonstrators who participated in the ‘tractor rally’ also stormed the hallowed ground of Red Fort and desecrated the heritage monument. The protesters scaled the walls of Red Fort and hoisted religious flags and allegedly Khalistani flags as well.
Many Twitter users also highlighted the fact that Aaj Tak, which has been heaping scorn on dramatising news has been doing exactly the same thing.
Aaj Tak journalist hounds Hathras SDM, accusing him of misbehaviour while screaming near him without a mask
A few months ago, Aaj Tak journalist Chitra was in the news because of her hyperventilating coverage of developments in Hathras. In a viral video on social media, Chitra was seen hounding Hathras SDM Prem Prakash Meena, accusing him of misbehaviour and ‘daring to teach journalists how to do their jobs’ and many other things at the top of her voice.
In some situations ‘silence is the best statement’ 🙏— Pawan Kamboj (@PK_IRS) October 7, 2020
Kudos to the officer 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/DKlWVfxQdt
In the video, Chitra is seen constantly screaming without a mask, accusing the IAS officer of threatening her, misbehaving with her. She also screamed that SDM Meena is incapable of doing his job despite having educational qualifications. The young IAS officer, following the coronavirus guidelines, stands there silently, letting the melodrama unfold and refusing to respond to what appeared like a non-stop tirade.
Interestingly, violating COVID guidelines, Chitra was not wearing a mask. Shortly after she was found haranguing the SDM, Chitra was tested positive for coronavirus.
India Today journalist a part of Robert Vadra’s PR stunt
Another instance that highlights the cringe-worthy journalism that India Today has come to be associated with occurred a few days ago when one of the richest ‘farmers’ in the country hopped on to a bicycle to ride into his office to protest against the rising fuel prices in the country. His Land Cruiser followed him at a snail’s pace as he rode the bicycle in peace. There was an India Today ‘journalist’ by his side to cover his unique form of protest. And then, it happened. The ‘journalist’ fell from the bicycle she was riding. The protagonists in our story are Robert Vadra and Mausami Singh.
Mausmi Singh did a Teju Bhaiya. 😉— Vikrant ~ विक्रांत (@vikrantkumar) February 22, 2021
Mausami Singh had only pointed out that the BJP would call the whole charade a gimmick given that Robert Vadra had his Land Cruiser tail him, was wearing expensive Suit-Boot while riding an expensive bicycle. The sharp glare that particular line of questioning elicited from the official son-in-law of the Congress party appears to have been enough to throw the reporter off from her bicycle.
India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai spreads fake news during the Republic Day riots
In January 2021, India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was caught red-handed peddling fake news about the death of a rioter Navreet during the Republic Day violence. While Navreet had died after the tractor he was driving to break police barricades turned turtle, Sardesai put up a tweet claiming that he was shot at by police.
That’s not all. Sardesai even went on to make the claims live on air. He had said on air that he was shown the body of the farmer with bullet injury on the head.
However, the video footage released by Delhi Police showed that he died after his tractor turned turtle while he tried to break police barricades.
After his lies were exposed, India Today had to grudgingly take him off-air for ‘two weeks’ as a punishment for spreading fake news. His one month salary was also reportedly slashed for the same.
President of India rebukes India Today, Rajdeep Sardesai for the controversy over the portrait of Netaji
Even as Aaj Tak and India Today brag of being conscientious in covering news, the organisation had recently received a sharp rebuke from the President of India for the fake controversy over the portrait of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.
When the portrait of Netaji was unveiled on 23rd January on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary, a large number of opposition leaders and journalists, including India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, had claimed that the portrait actually depicted actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, who had played the role of Bose in a movie.
However, it was later revealed that the portrait was based on a photograph of Bose, which was supplied by his grand-nephew. Rajdeep Sardesai was one of the journalists to spread fake news on Twitter.
The aforementioned instances, by no means, form an exhaustive list of instances when Aaj Tak, India Today and their journalists have been caught dramatising the news and spreading misinformation. These were but a few instances of TV Today Network’s cringe-worthy journalism. There are countless other such illustrations that didn’t make the cut because of the sheer overwhelming number of occasions when the news organisation and their anchors were caught peddling lies and propaganda. If this didn’t amaze you enough, you can scroll right up and type in the search bar ‘Rajdeep Sardesai’, ‘India Today Fake news’, ‘Aaj Tak’ to access their other works of ‘excellence’.