Employees at Times Now have allegedly written to Times Group MD Vineet Jain to register their anguish about the coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Delhi. The top journalists at Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar, Navika Kumar and Padmaja Joshi were marked in the copy as well.
OpIndia has accessed the letter from reliable sources. The letter is circulating widely among journalist circles. However, OpIndia could not independently verify the authenticity of the letter. Times Now has denied receiving such a letter in a response to OpIndia.
The employees asked in their letter whether the advertisements from the AAP Government in Delhi are affecting the coverage on the channel. The letter says that “we are appalled to see sanctimonious advertisements on our channel from the same person who is responsible for the mess Delhi is in. And we will not be shy to name that person unlike others – Arvind Kejriwal is fattening our TV channels with obnoxious advertisements so that we keep silent on his gross mismanagement of every aspect of the fight against COVID.”
The employees asked, “We understand that advertisements are a big source of income for our news channel but should we be taking taxpayer money from a person who did not use the same taxpayer money to build even a single hospital between 2015 and 2019? This is not about business but about the people and their problems, which should have always been the case. Is it right to go soft on a politician whose performance, or lack of it, is costing hundreds of lives just because he spends lavishly on us through advertisements?”
The employees also mention specific colleagues by name. “Is this the reason why our channel is going soft on who simply blames someone else all the time while he is the elected leader of Delhi? Is this why ‘journalists’ like Madhav are busy saving Delhi government’s face and diverting blame elsewhere? And if someone points out the misconduct of Kejriwal government then Madhav goes on to abuse that person in street and thuggish language and on Live TV,” says the letter.
Madhav here presumably refers to Madhavdas G, senior editor at Times Now. But it could mean someone else at the news channel as well. The letter continued, “On the one hand, shocking details emerged from the Delhi High Court on how the Delhi government did not make any effort to either procure the oxygen already allocated for it or even to make distribution plan for the oxygen once it reached the Delhi borders. . And on the other hand, there was Sreyashi retweeting Manish Sisodia’s ‘oxygen war room’ tweets! Is this what our channel is for? Reduced to being a IT cell of Delhi government’s propaganda machinery?”
The employees did not stop there. They stated further, “Then there are certain ‘journalists’ who are seen peddling divisive agendas more than doing any serious journalism. Prashant is either busy tweeting what Rahul Gandhi’s views on some matters are or is busy pushing Tejashwi Yadav’s agenda even during this crisis. It would not be a problem if Prashant was pushing some constructive solution given by anyone. But these people are simply venting vitriol. Have some of our ‘reporters’ stooped down to the level of becoming paid hirelings for mascots of corruption and goondaraj?”
“Timesnow was supposed to be beyond these agendas. Timesnow was supposed to be the voice of the people. Especially at the time of a crisis, instead of questioning those who are responsible for the situation in different states, we are shocked to see our ‘journalists’ simply spread panic, hatred and distorted agendas,” the letter states.
The employees also asked whether advertisements were everything and if commitment towards truth or the country meant nothing. They also called for serious introspection. The letter was penned today. It needs to be emphasised here that we could not independently verify the authenticity of the letter.
There was a letter penned earlier that was in circulation as well. In that letter, the channel was accused of siding with the BJP. That letter was widely in circulation among journalist circles as well. Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal has come under criticism from all quarters for spending crores of money on ads but not enough on securing the supply of medical oxygen.
OpIndia has reached out to Times Now and Vineet Jain for their comment on the matter. We will update the report with their response as and when we receive it.
Times Now has responded to our query. Their response is reproduced below in full:
“This is completely fake, baseless and a malicious attempt to defame and tarnish the image of Times Now. We clearly state that we have not received any such email directly. From the content and context, it is evident to us that this is not the work of any present or past insider. The Times Now team is a close knit group of highly motivated people who work together in harmony and are completely one with the Channel purpose and Content strategy. We pride ourselves on our extremely open and transparent culture and foster personal courage amongst our members who are known to speak their mind. It’s not our style to hide behind anonymous mails to make a point. Our reputation is built on long years of integrity and strong principles of journalism that we are proud of. Through several pathbreaking campaigns and initiatives amidst the Covid-19 crisis, Times Now has been at the forefront in empowering viewers with accurate and verified news and we are committed to continue the same despite feeble attempts by unscrupulous and politically motivated players.”