Radia Activity

[This post is a somewhat longer version of this earlier post, reflecting some updates since this was written]

In Hindi movies, on which we grew up, the villain may be a politician, a policeman, a businessman or even a priest. But in very few movies, would you find a newspaperman “editor-sahaab” to be anything but a knight in shining armor who even though he might not make it alive till the intermission would never compromise on his ideals. Maybe that is why  while we expect our politicians and the police to be corrupt (and they unfailingly exceed our expectations), for the person carrying a pencil and a clipboard our standards are very different.

Barkha Dutt’s public image has been the living embodiment of that ideal, and as Rohit says here she has always been perceived as representing  the interests of the common Indian, our voice asking the tough questions to those in power. No wonder that she is the Chetan Bhagat of Indian journalism, standing head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of popularity. Hence when the Radia tapes broke, much of the public outrage was focused on her—-how could she?

To those shocked let me say—welcome to the real world. While I am sympathetic to her assertion that with respect to Radia she was merely fishing for information and that she never did try to influence cabinet selection, she has not addressed (at the time of writing this post) the larger question asked by Open Magazine. Namely that Radia represented the Tatas and when it was evident the said lobbyist was trying her level best to influence the appointment of the Minister in a sector her clients had significant interests, why was that news not reported? That in itself was explosive enough.

A movie journalist friend of mine once told me how the real scandals of Bollywood are almost never reported, even though they be common knowledge. What we see as scoops and sensations are all planted by the stars and their handlers, most of them patently false, all done to promote movies or their personal images. So why are the real scandals never reported? Because those who work the Page 3/movie beat are part of the system. When you are in the system, you don’t shake the tree too hard because you never know what will fall on your head. Better to just prune the leaves.

Not trying to shake up the system is not unethical. What Vir Sanghvi has done I believe definitely is. He has been someone whose articles I have always enjoyed reading for their crisp clarity. Now I realize that he had perhaps merely been a reflector, bouncing off light rays gotten obtained other sources creating, what a voice on the Radia tape says “Yeah yeah boss likha hai verbatim”. Again that this kind of influencing of opinion goes in should not be a surprise, as anyone who has read about the paid news scandal, the biggest and most shocking scandal you have never heard about, knows.

If all this was not shocking enough, Ratan Tata has called India a banana republic and has moved the Supreme Court to restrain the publication and dissemination of the Radia tapes.   I wish someone tells this captain of Indian industry that while his “gentle” banter with Radia with respect to her Cavalli gown may be an intrusion into his privacy, the nation has every right to know how exactly minsters are assigned to portfolios. A banana republic this truly is but not for the reason Tataji thinks !

The only good that has come out of Radia tapes has been that it has blown the lid off our democratic process—-showing exactly the machinations by which corporate interests “guide” the people.Not that we were so naive that we did not know that it takes place but the shock of seeing exactly how it is done is quite another sensation.

It is, once you stop getting angry, a fascinating study in manipulation.

First through their “friends” in the press, public opinion is slowly molded favorably wherein we lambs have no idea that the well-argued article from a man we admire is actually the talking points of a corporate lobbyist.

Then they cobble together different interests in Parliament, make a number of phone calls and get their man installed as the minister.

No that is not the end of the game.

As a final insurance, they infiltrate the opposition. I would too, if I had a small matter of Rs 81,000 crore on the line. To quote the Hindu,

In one recording, Mr. Singh tells Ms Radia of the firefighting he is doing on behalf of Mr. Ambani to ensure a tax concession the finance minister had announced in the 2009 budget for gas production is made applicable retrospectively. Ms Radia says she has killed news stories about the Rs.81,000 crore super profit Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) would make were that to happen but Mr. Singh is more concerned about what happens in Parliament during the debate on the Finance Bill. His fear is that if Opposition MPs make a noise about a largess being given to one company, the finance minister would be on the defensive and the prospect of extending the concession retrospectively would not even arise. Mr. Singh accuses BJP leader Arun Shourie of being on Anil Ambani’s side and reveals how he has managed to get Mr. Shourie replaced as the BJP’s lead speaker by Venkaiah Naidu.

To make things untenable for BJP, Arun Shourie, perhaps one of the few Indian politicians to have both erudition and backbone, has confirmed the fact that he was replaced at the last minute [Link] by certain interests, which should put a spanner in the works of those partisans who would like us to believe that there is only one guilty party here.

Well no——if one has the spidery spaghetti the other has the steaming sauce.

Welcome to Indian politics, a beast that makes Pakistani cricket look like, to quote a phrase from the great Pamela Bordes scandal, a “teddy bear’s picnic”.

Welcome to the system.


61 thoughts on “Radia Activity

  1. “No wonder that she is the Chetan Bhagat of Indian journalism!!”
    Interesting 🙂

  2. To quote Mamta Kulkarni, “Mujhko Tataji maaf karna, galti maare se ho gayi”

  3. Ms. Radia couldn’t block the news about a proposal in the budget 2009 favoring just one person. I remember reading about in “The Hindu”, hidden somewhere in the inside pages. I tried to dig it out on the internet. I could not. Maybe, someone can

  4. The saying – “Is hamaam mein sabhi nange hain” has never been truer. Forced by the outrage in the social media world, apparently Barkha Dutt has agreed to be interviewed/questioned by 4 independent journalists like Swapan Dasgupta today on NDTV. I cannot however, imagine what her defence is.

    As for Vir, he has been a sellout for a long time pimping his celebrity and column to wrangle free food, and stays at hotels and spas around the world for many years now. His extension into politics, however, was not as well known.

    What has been the most illuminating is the closing of ranks among the TV and news journalists regarding this issue for the first 2-3 weeks of the scandal breaking. The only three publications that broke ranks were the liberal ones who seem either less ensconced in the arms of the political class – Pioneer, The Hindu, Open Magazine, and Outlook. Regardless of our political affiliation we should thank them. At least till the sell out themselves, or are ruined by political vendetta, like Tehelka was.

    The greatest outcome of this entire fiasco (and also the series of scandals this year) for me has been the eye opening power of social media in keeping controversies alive, mobilizing public opinion, and keeping the pressure on the ruling class to act on the scandals. News, and opinion, has many sources now and not all of them can be muzzled by an editorial board, or the government. Not any more. That’s good for democracy.

  5. Nicely summed up Arnab.
    I am not in India, but am following this story to the tee.
    Surprisingly, there was very less info online about it, until now, when slowly channels are opening up, with IBN, Hindu picking it up.

    The revelations have been too scandalous and the expose’ has left readers like us speechless. I always looked up to Vir n Barkha, though I had no such expectations from ppl like Prabhu Chawla, Navika Kumar et al.
    The two stalwarts have let the readers down, and its really sad that coz of them I hv lost interest in watching any news analysis on Indian channels.
    It seems to me now that all is cooked up, even though some might be true.

    The defense by Barkha and Vir have taken out the one iota of doubt I had that they may be right. If you see tweets by Barkha, its hilarious. She is completely ignoring the hard or the tough tweets and only answering the voices which lend her some support.
    Vir’s defense on his website is spineless, and he says he is going for a break.Dude, what else you will be left with. Even if you write daily, readers like me r never going to come back to your website.
    I do watch live news on IBN and NDTV, but the feeling has been so bad that I now flip channels if I see Barkha.

    And I am also surprised at their employers, NDTV and HT to stay mum, and carry on working with them. Shows a lot about what kind of journalism they preach n follow. N Ram put it precisely on IBN recently that if this were done abroad, say in BBC or FT, the career of journalists would well be over.

    Though there may/may not be vested interests in leaking these tapes, but still I am quite impressed by the bold step by Open Editors to go out with all this, where such big names are involved.

    Another point is, Vir said in his defense that the news of tape leakage has been out since April. The 2G scam surfaced only recently. So, having known the tapes are out, it gives Vir and Barkha ample time to work on a cover up for explanation. This am talking in the context where Barkha says that on her shows she has always been hard hitting to Raja.

    The interview of Shourie with Thapar was very apt and objective, and I loved it.Still am kind of lost as to what to believe and what not.

    Hope this scandal leads to some restoration of integrity in this profession.

    A disoriented reader..

  6. @Anshul seth
    If you had ‘trust’ in Barkha before, its only a matter of time before you regain your trust in her 🙂 This disgust and sadness will pass.

    It has been known for a long time that the mainstream media in India works for money and ideology.

  7. ihaan kis kaa chehraa padaa karun/ihaan sab ke sar pe saliib hain

  8. Nice article, and I agree with it almost completely,
    except that I think Barkha Dutt is just as ethically
    challenged in her actions as Vir Sanghvi.
    Sure, Barkha Dutt may not have done a direct
    lobbying job of the kind Vir Sanghvi did with
    his articles “dictated” by Ms. Radia, but I don’t
    think what she has done is particularly different.
    She has actively (at least from the conversations)
    played a role as a go between, while never reporting
    on it, and at the same time having shows regarding
    the political aspects of government formation.
    See for example this clip in youtube, where she
    asks about the delay in the cabinet formation
    (May 26, 2009). [She also has Vir Sanghvi on the show
    in the clip, and they are explicitly pushing Salman
    Khurshid for a cabinet post]. It is also worth noting
    that she never mentions the telecom ministry in this

    Also, one wonders what she gains by being involved in
    this sort of horse trading as a journalist.

    On this count, I certainly see no difference in the
    ethics of Ms. Dutt and Mr. Sanghvi in their actions.

  9. @Shan: While I don’t disagree that there may have been political vendetta against Tehelka, I don’t think they were “less ensconced in the arms of the political class”.
    I remember clearly that Ajit Jogi of the Congress (and BALCO controversy) was present at the Tehelka screening of the Manoj Prabhakar tapes after during the match-fixing scandal. I remember this clearly because at that time too I was wondering what on earth Jogi was doing there at the special screening. And if memory serves me right, he was there when the next Tehelka tapes were also aired.
    Memory is slightly hazy on this so if anyone has details/clarifications would welcome them.

  10. @Greatbong:
    I am a regular HT reader and Vir Sanghvi’s articles have always been a fantastic read for me. Therefore, I am more than a little disappointed about Sanghvi’s involvement with pushing Radia’s agendas. I am not sure I still can believe Sanghvi of stooping so low.

    I always viewed Barkha Dutt with a more critical eye – that she could possibly be linked to a lobbyist doesn’t surprise me.

    That said, I think the media (both in the US and in India) is always involved in pushing certain agendas. Fox News openly and blatantly pushes a pro-Republican agenda and most of Glenn Beck’s rants are not only completely inappropriate but they border on the schizophrenic.

    I think Indian Media does comparatively better than the likes of Fox News or Glenn Beck. Although, there’s much more room for transparency and improvement.

    I would also love to read your takes on Glenn Beck and Fox News. They deserve your trademark wit and sarcasm.

  11. Do agree with your thought process on this just being a reflection of what the real world is and don’t think anything that was heard in the tapes was beyond what we already know happens. Bringing it out to public at large and general reactions is in my opinion nothing more than momentary voyeuristic excitement from people who have just been exposed to the darker side of power circles. Exciting yes, but not shocking for sure.

    Don’t necessarily agree with you comments on RNT though. The ‘banana republic’ remark (even though totally apt at the first place), have been inferred totally out of context. Was it right tapping Radia’s phone for an investigation? Yes. Should such tapes which are supposed to be in govt possession be leaked? No. Even when leaked and the information is now public, is it acceptable to analyze & scrutinize them in public eye? Yes we have the right to know, discuss the information that is now public. But is it right putting Barkha, Vir or RNT’s name on a magazine with title 2G scam? Beyond crap. In fact this is nothing but putting the main scam aside and treading general public sentiment on a way that is not direct inference from the tapes.

    The 2G scam BTW is far more than denying the national exchequer of an hypothetically arrived amount that has been floated in media on the assumption of what could have been accrued if a 3G auction type process was followed. Huge number, but hypothetical. Anyways point is 2G scam is more, far more than that.

    Also the reaction on Radia, Barkha, Vir n co. is based on assumption that all others including we ourselves are saints not involved in any wrongdoing to get our work done. Not defending what is wrong, but if we look around ourselves there a lot accepted wrongs that we have learn to live with coz it works in our advantage. Should we be disturbed on surfacing of some facts that we knew existed? Depends on individual but we should at least avoid being hypocrites.

  12. “In Hindi movies, on which we grew up, the villain may be a politician, a policeman, a businessman or even a priest. But in very few movies, would you find a newspaperman “editor-sahaab” to be anything but a knight in shining armor who even though he might not make it alive till the intermission would never compromise on his ideals”

    It is clear you have forgotten “Main Azad Hoon”, incidentally, the title of the movie “Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Se” was taken from a song in the movie.

    As far as Tehelka being concerned, I seriously doubt its neutrality – look at the following link to understand what I say (especially the last line):


  13. Man I never believed Ratanji 🙂 before. I remember, I questioned his credibility when he came on TV during the launch of the Nano project and told that he saw a family of 4 travelling on a 2-wheeler (some scooter i guess) and the decided to pursue the idea of a 1,00,000 lakh car. In my eyes the rot in ethics in his company starts at the top and he might be the root cause of things.

  14. Time to give credit to who it is due.It was only a few weeks ago that Arundhati Roy spoke of Indian media as an incestuous clique that fronts for big business, politicians and the rest of the lot. For all the brickbats people love to hurl at her, she has been right most of the time (no, I am not talking of J & K).

  15. Cricket matches turn out to be fixed, Rajya Sabha MPs get appointed by dubious means, sadhus n sants get exposed with their lecherous deeds, corporate biggies fudge their accounts with passive connivance of other agencies, journos turn lobbyists, judges remain under scanner…….is there a trace of credibility left anywhere?

  16. What the Radia Tapes have proved beyond doubt is that there is ONLY ONE LEGITIMATE WAY that business can be done in India.

    I agree with R N Tata’s contention that the leaking of the tapes was a gross invasion of his privacy. Most of the conversation was idle banter. But that is not the issue here… Why should the IT department retain tapes that do not have any relevance to the matter at hand? Why should the whole world know what Radia thinks of Raja’s crush on Kanimozhi? Or whether Radia has a black Cavalli gown?If these tapes were not meant to be used as leverage later, they should’ve been destroyed. They should’ve only retained those conversations that would’ve helped them in the ongoing investigation/s. The leaking of the personal conversations were, IMHO, in really poor taste.

    I am not at all surprised with the fact that the media always reports selective news. The media is the most organized Mafia in the world. The pseudo evangelists ‘get off’ thinking about how they can make or break businesses and even governments. This incident should remind us, yet again, that we shouldn’t always believe everything that is printed.

  17. I have used this word repeatedly in my previous posts: “Corporatocracy”. This is what is happening in a very professional way in the US, and this is what is happening completely underground in India.

    Once Wikileaks trains its eyes on the Industrial Political nexus in the US, bigger scams than have ever been witnessed by a human eye will come forth. What it has managed to achieve with ‘Cablegate’ is minuscule in comparison.

    Our own version, ‘Radiagate’ is also, just a tiny, tiny part of the whole truth. Simple common sense will tell us that there couldn’t have been one all powerful lobbyist. There have to be more.

    What is however greatly delightful is the fact that free spirits like WikiLeaks and Open magazine have succeeded in using the same corrupt system against itself.

    But then again, what could be the ultimate repercussions of these? Will a politician ever work selflessly for the sole benefit of his constituents? Will a chief editor ever create stories that might not sell, and invite lawsuits, only in the interests of publishing the truth in it’s entirety? Will a business magnate ensure that the best product reaches his consumer regardless of profit margin? Well, no.

    Everyone and everything exists in this world for not only its survival but its furtherance. So, with the information available now, the responsibility of each individual privy to the information, is to ensure survival of only those politicians, editors, business magnates and other leaders who DO NOT TAKE US FOR FOOLS! Let information be free, let them fight for survival.

  18. @ Rajiv Iyer
    In US, ideologically speaking, Fox News is to the ‘right’, what MSNBC, ABC and PBS is to the ‘Left’. For every Glen Beck, you have a equally loony Keith Olberman. For every Sean Hannity, you have a Rachel Maddow.

    In India though, the mainstream English media is only one type, and we all know that type.

    Social media though, is more diverse and it seems that social media in India is posing a serious credibility challenge to the one sided English MSM.

    Needless to say, when it comes to effectiveness in the arena of social media, Greatbong stands in the front row.

  19. Arnab,

    Please have links on your article open on a new page. It is more convenient than having to go back and forth.

  20. GB,
    Good as usual.
    I never thought Burqa Futt as the ultimate height of Indian journalism. I do not watch TV (either in US or India) but I usually watch youtube videos on news programs. I stopped watching Burqa’s program the very day when she told her audience how ‘karva-chauth’ is a propagation of century old superstitions (fair enough, many believe that) but then in the next segment criticized Sarcozy on Burkha ban as if Burkha was a symbol of progress. That was the day I started calling her Burqa.
    But I must admit that reading some of Vir’s column I had a soft spot for him. Not that I thought he is incorruptible but I thought he is more sensible among the secular idiots who rule Indian media. When Burkha story broke I thought big deal. When I read about Vir it was a bit surprising that he was practicing selling out for such a long time.
    After that, the news of puriegate ( http://mitalisaran.blogspot.com/2010/10/case-of-missing-attribution.html ) arrived. Then I realized that for Indian media this week, bad luck kharab hai.
    Here is a question though. Why are not we giving due credit to Open magazine? The real credit should go to the competition that finally exposed the media cartel in a big way. Had it been just part of the blogs etc, it would have been dismissed as a silly conspiracy theory or mis-interpretation of right-wing bloggers to tarnish the reputation of media geniuses.

    Another newsman recently suggested that B and V should appologize and move on. Swapan Dasgupta, in his blog, tried to write a justification which convinced nobody. Now, as per the news stated by Shan above, it looks like a new santization tamasha is going to be scheduled. One more way for media to make a tamasha and gain some TRP. At the end, nothing more will happen and Burqas will rule the media again. INDIA SHINING, my friends!!

  21. @Rishi,
    It has been known for a long time that the mainstream media in India works for money and ideology.
    Money is the only ideology. It can be only found from those who has ruled and will rule. Therefore ruler’s ideology is media’s ideology.

  22. @Sudhir,
    she has been right most of the time (no, I am not talking of J & K).
    Funny, was not J&K part of her talks most of the time?

  23. everyone thinks that open mag is a knight in shining armor. but how do we know they are not part of a PR counter attack another sore corporate clique? right now, everything is believable.

  24. Seriously Glenn beck and Keith olberman are equally loony?

  25. @ Joyjit
    Ok.. maybe Keith Olberman is a little bit more loony 🙂 given his acerbic body language.

    But nuances aside :), you get the point…right?

    @ Sid
    Some journos wont write “good” stuff about certains topic even if you pay them money. Thats where their ideology comes into play.

    Try getting a Burkha to say anything good about Modi, even if you give her a million dollars.

  26. No Joyjit, that’s a trite false-equivalence used by those trying to pretend that the American right-wing isn’t intellectually bankrupt. It’s the same talking point Fox News uses to peddle their rubbish, claiming that the rest of the media is just as biased (if not more) than they are.

  27. Much awaited piece from you. I was also expecting some words of praise for the netizens (which includes you) who ran the barkhagate and such stuff on twitter/blogs lambasting the journalists so that it could no longer be ignored by MSM

  28. @ pensive
    Its a matter of perspective. Lets keep the discussion on Olberman’s hateful bufoonry versus Glen Beck’s demagoguery for another day.

    But atleast in the US, there are both points of views that are strongly represented in the media.

    PS: I personally watch both points of views. And whatever my personal views may be on different topics, atleast Fox analysts and presenters have some content in their shows (some I agree with, some I dont)
    All Olberman and Maddow do is attack Fox anchors in their shows. Dont you think that reflects a relative shallowness in their propaganda?

  29. Great job on the part of the net fraternity who went all out to stress the point. Just watched Barka dutts show and it looks that she still is not agreeing to the point and looking at it she never will. Glad that these magazines bought it out. If ppl claim that it was a corporate scandal to tarnsih ppl then get out stuff on others too. Latest i have been reading is Pawar doesnt want the CBI to pursue corporate but only the ministers involved. Common. We spare this then we spare everything coming our way.

    This i hope is not the end and magazines bring out more such stuff in the open before our society gets cleansed. Kab tak aam aadmi ko pakadoge. When will the bada machli get caught in their dirty pond

  30. @Rishi- “Needless to say, when it comes to effectiveness in the arena of social media, Greatbong stands in the front row.”

    Absolutely true. They should have included him in the panel on NDTV via video conferencing. Who knows, he may have got bored and started to watch porn!

    @Akhilesh- Good suggestion (GB please note).Till then install Chrome, right click and open in new tab.

    @Pensive- “No Joyjit, that’s a trite false-equivalence used by those trying to pretend that the American right-wing isn’t intellectually bankrupt. It’s the same talking point Fox News uses to peddle their rubbish, claiming that the rest of the media is just as biased (if not more) than they are.”

    Believe you me, the right’s economic views make a lot of sense (except the decision to go to war). The Left have no views. Masters of pussyfooting.

    We need an Indian version of “Rally to restore sanity” hosted by GB. All will be there including Dutt, Sanghvi, Rakhi, Laloo, Modi (both Lalit and Narendra), Buddha, Tatas, the Ambani brothers, Naxalites, Kashmiri terrorists, Chetan Bhagat and of course Suzanna Roy. Those unable to attend can watch it streaming live at Pradeep and Khanna.

  31. @joyjit @pensive: You should not be surprised at the equivalence drawn between Olbermann, Maddow at MSNBC and Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilley on the right, much as ridiculous it might seem. The right wing in the US has a lot of sympathy from right other wingers in India – they follow similar memes, have similar philosophies, similar xenophobic tendencies, and frequently, a common enemy in religions/beliefs other than their own.

    That’s that makes Rachel Maddow’s and Olbermann’s calling out and exposing Fox’s lies “hate speech” and labels Fox’s trash as “at least some content on their shows”. 🙂

    Oh, another “shallow” propagandist, I can bet, would be Jon Stewart.

  32. Shan, Out of curiosity how regular do you watch/listen to Maddow, Olbermann, Glenn Beck, Hannity, O Reilly, Savage, Limbaugh, Stewart, Colbert?

  33. I watched the Barkha grilling on the NDTV web site today, and the problem is that she still doesn’t seem to get what she did wrong. At most she seems to think that her is a far smaller sin of ‘omission’ – of not reporting a story she though was unimportant (as if a PR lobbyist acting as go-between between two political parties is an unimportant story; Manu Joseph calls it, rather exaggeratedly, the “story of the decade”) – and not that a ‘commission’ in that she didn’t gain anything other than information. She says it’s a matter if opinion that the story was important. Is that corruption? I am not sure. Is that bad journalism? Definitely. Is that malafide intent? Maybe, but there’s no proof.

    But having taken her apart, I do agree with her assertion that she has been targeted the most by everyone. Now that is definitely a function of her celebrity status (Tunku Vardharajan calls her the Katie Couric of India in a brilliant Daily Beast article – look it up), but somewhere I am also feeling that this is slipping into a witch hunt for her while the others are getting away just being under the radar.

    We have to take greater, or at least equal, issue with craven sellouts like Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla, Aroon Purie and other “journalists”, who have sold their souls to the corporate world. Vir Sanghvi is a case in point – everyone who read HT or knew anyone who worked there knew for years that Vir had become a pen for hire – in fact he reveled in getting free food at Michelin starred restaurants and stays in luxurious spas and hotels all over the world, while shilling them to the readers in his Sunday articles. All this time he was encouraged by Shibhna Bharatia because the luxury cains he would shill were all potential advertisers. So it was just a logical extension that he should do the same for Mukesh Ambani. We should not have given him a pass when he was shilling for hotels, and certainly not when he does the same for corporates.

    But we are tolerant people when it comes to journalism. To the shame of the entire Indian journalistic community – it was recently revealed that the editor of India’s largest selling magazine – India Today – gets his editorials ghostwritten. And this happened when he was caught plagiarizing from Slate. This is shameful either way – if he plagiarized the paragraph himself, or if his edits are ghostwritten. I mean you are an editor, and you cannot write one measly 200 word edit a week? What does he do with his time then? Only attend conferences?

    Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, and hopefully this fiasco will result in more transparency, more ethics, and better journalism in India. I am also hopeful that the social media will act as the watchdogs!

  34. @Arnab: Two ways. I travel to the US/Canada pretty frequently as you know, and I get to watch a lot of TV there. But most of my watching is via social media alerts which direct me to various websites (also Youtube, of course) to watch clips. Lately I have watched a lot of Beck’s madness and Olbermann’s takedowns.

    Comedy Central site is my source for Stewart and Colbert.

  35. As someone who watches all these shows, by virtue of having been in this country for about 11 years (not that all of these have been running since then), I can say that in many instances Maddow and especially Olbermann are as odious as OReilly. Glenn Beck I agree is a special case.

    Reflecting your statement back with some changes,

    The loony left wing in the US (Olbermann-Maddow) has a lot of sympathy from similarly confused people in India – they follow similar memes, have similar philosophies, similar clueless tendencies, and frequently, a common love for “terrorism as justified action” as long as it is against the “right” people.

  36. @greatbong: Interesting to see you jump to defend the right wing (TV hosts), and mock my words in the process. Frankly, I was expecting to get a similar response from Khujur. Your attempt at being Fair and Balanced?

    And I am curious? When did Rachel Maddow or Olbermann justify terrorism? I normally tend to accept your word as the truth Arnab. If they really have done so, I’ll apologize for supporting them publicly here, and anoint O’Reilly as my new God.

  37. Rachel Maddow and Olbermann repeatedly undermine the very real war on terror that the US fights, and I can say that from having seen them days in and days out. Plus they indulge in the same character assassination and selective “quotes” that Fox does. (Note I do not defend Fox…I say they are the same.)

    I understand it is interesting for you to see me jump in and “defend” the right wing TV hosts. All I can say is it is highly predictable for me to see you cheerlead for the Maddows and the Olbermann as being “superior” to the other extremes. Just shows your concept of “fair and balanced” But again that’s not a surprise.

  38. @Greatbong: However, I am neither the moderator of this messageboard, nor did I write what I did originally in response to anything you wrote. I responded to a series of three posts by other commenters that spoke about Fox and MSNBC. But you evidently felt the urgent need to set me “right”, even though this particular series of comments was not really connected to Radiagate. That was telling.

  39. Shan, Huh? No idea what you just said.

  40. 🙂 Nice response GB. Loved that left-wing analogy. In fact, I have noticed this tone by some other commentators in some earlier posts…umm…the Obama post. Many people in India have this idea of US Liberals as the good guy and the right wing as the bad. Just to give some info, it is the Democratic party which makes the most shrill noise to cancel all those visas which bring people here. That’s a fact jack. And they want to tax companies and stop outsourcing. Remember that. So you are thinking, “hey he is a liberal. He will embrace diversity. He will pass legislation to bring me to US.” No Jack no. He loves illegal immigrants. Not you. It is Hillary Clinton, a woman people like that revere, who said on the wikileak exposed cable, that India is a “self proclaimed front-runner to UN Security Council”.And by the way, the Democrats love Pakistan too. :)Oh baby they do. A lot! Who gave India nuclear deal by the way? Which president?

    So remember that before making blanket statements like Conservative=fox=xenophobia and Liberal=MSNBC= loves India and will give me a blowjob type equations. That is not to say that one party has any special love for India over other. India has off late become a big US ally and they just play the chess game of foreign policy with us. Yes Fox is irrational. And unabashedly so. So change the channel. You do not belong to their demographic. There are many that do like them. Uneducated poor of the Red states, bible thumpers, fiscal conservatives, rich white people,rich people, business owners, opposers of evolution/stem cell/evangelicals and homophobes, common folk of the american heartland etc. Eventually all politics is local and relies on sales pitch. Obama promised a change. The only change that happened was in the senate in the midterm elections. One party will propose, the other will vehemently oppose. Hey that is bipartisan politics, or its limitations! Add a largely ignorant/indifferent electorate and you know what to say on the radio. Why would Rush Limbaugh/FOX say anything different when the people who matter buy that sales pitch? The bottomline is, being opposite to fox does not give credibility to MSNBC as objective. People who want the truth know where to hunt on the net for such news. There are many OP-eds, sites like wikileaks and independent writers who will give you a largely unbiased picture. A cable news channel ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. Just take the news. Ignore the opinion, unless well-argued and backed up. That’s it! But in India people love politics and cable news is a hot thing. Reason why people like Barkha Dutt became so influential in the first place.

  41. Welcome to the system … Thanks for the blue pill, Morpheus !

  42. ^^ The above entry should read, thanks for the blue and red pills ^^

  43. A link related to the Radia contoversy.
    Barkha Dutt defending here position wrt Radia Tapes on NDTV debate :

  44. There’s very little difference between Democrats and Republicans on most things, but particularly on foreign policy. Also there isn’t a great deal of party loyalty, often the majority on key votes are influenced by individuals, all unlike India. These fence sitters try to avoid going against the grain of public sentiment, which is shaped by media reporting.

    Hence the channels in the USA are quite transparent in their support of conservative or liberal views and try to lobby the public to their points of view using strong “personalities” whom they think best reflect their viewers.

    I see this as a great strength of American media over Indian media i.e. to see both sides of the debate and each one’s proposed solution, in the latter public debate on any government policy is practically non-existent.

  45. “Now that is definitely a function of her celebrity status but somewhere I am also feeling that this is slipping into a witch hunt for her”
    As was said in another blog (Barbarindians, I think), Amitabh Bachchan will be pilloried far more for shoplifting a candy than Arjun Rampal will ever be for carrying out a large-scale bank heist. It is definitely a function of celebrity status – if she’s ready to take the pros of it, she has to take cons as well. It’s not a witch hunt.

  46. Blog for the love of blogging
    If one exercises the process of influencing the legislature parties to get APJ reappointed as the P, the process of influene does not get tarnished.
    Lobbying for a good cause , such as the RTI or an environment tribunal does not tarnish lobbying.
    If one were to lobby to get clean people in important positions, lobbying wont be bad.
    It is today because there is this irritating perceived 2G scam which again is the result of yet another group with vested interests.
    Corporate sponsorship of media…extended to medianet and pressures of the influential,both political , mucled and moneyed , be it an individual or a corporate dates back to the inception of the media houses.why are we pretending to be shocked.Plebians that we are…it makes general banter for passing time.
    come on grow up.
    such conversations whether they get taped and published would make no impact on India.
    what is the total circulation of outlook and open and viewership of these television channels?
    would it affect in any manner any future choice of cabinet berth?
    the legislature frames the law in a manner to ensure that there are enough ways to get around
    the executive plays along …remember the exemption of the bureaucratic file notings impeaching independence
    the way we feel priveleged to getan award or being medalled by a known name and /or our proximity to influential people to wriggle out of our own petty infractions…thats the tale of modern india and as some lament the road to “PRALAY”

  47. @Rishi,
    Try getting a Burkha to say anything good about Modi, even if you give her a million dollars.
    Try that. I mean, seriously. If she does not do the article then this means that the money is not enough for her to compensate the alternate revenue stream that she would be losing after her new-found sympathy for Modi goes public. How big is this alternate revenue stream? The scale of Raja’s royal loot can give you an indication.
    I trust human greed, dishonesty and incompetence far more than ideology. It is said that you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest while an honest man can not be trusted to remain honest always. So I am sticking to American method of problem solving as far as media goes; throw money still the problem disappears.
    Cynicism? Yes but I never made a mistake in judgment by listening to my cynic mind.

  48. @ sid

  49. @ sid
    As the song goes, “If I had a million dollars…. 🙂

  50. OMG, have you listen barkha’s explanation on NDTV with 4 editor’s. The show dur is 50 min and she have speak almost 40 min. the anchor sonia singh spoke around 3 min and just 4 min for 4 editor’s. I never liked barkha but after this show i hate her, did you saw her arroganceor the better word is shamlessness. She told manu joshep (open editor) that i am a superior political journalist then you. Everyone looked uncofortable. no one was convince with barkh’s reple but barkha almost hijacked the show. Barkha sucks.

  51. @ciph3r @greatbong : In that Discussion @NDTV, Barkha says that she did not consider the fact that a Corporate PR person was lobbying between Congress and DMK to be a big story. She says nobody can question her judgement on reporting a story or not. In my view that is like saying I saw the murder and chose not to report it to the police because in my view it is commonplace and nobody can question my judgement on that!

    Another thing that stood out was Barkha asking the panel whether what NDTV reported on live TV showed any bias to any political establishment or not. Which I guess is a fair point to make in this context.

  52. Hindu Nationalist December 3, 2010 — 7:06 am


    Congratulations on your marriage!

  53. From a seasoned journo, editor, most ethical blah blah blah – during this interview all Ms.Dutt could fall back on was – silly mistake, gulliblility etc.!?! Wow – suddenly she’s a rookie making silly mistakes on such an issue! You may be gullible Ms.Dutt but the public isn’t (er, actually we are!) And this line of – everone bad why me only being punished boo hoo- come on, doesn’t that sound silly even to someone as silly as you. Sad sad state of affairs – and the media whitewahsing is deplorable. The glee with which they – including Vir, Barkha – dive into politicians who appear on their show – the glee with which they carry out their grilling – well you little lillies – that same scrutiny is happening to you now and boy why am I not surprised that -now- you go crying – no fair no fair weep weep weeeeeeeeep. Pathetic.

  54. Am I the only Bill Maher fan out there?

  55. Agree with those saying that the extreme left and right are both irrational in the US. As I read in a blog somewhere – ‘the left wants to equalise incomes, while the right wants the govt to protect their swindle of the people’

    Morally and intellectually pretty much equivalent. And others have pointed out, they are equivalent in their treatment of India too

    There are two camps. BJP & Congress. Pro-national and anti-national. The former is not completely white, & neither the latter totally black. But it is evident that in matters of national importance, economic or defence, the Congress is far more dangerous than the BJP in its ability to harm India’s interest.

    And in spite of all this hand-wringing, most of the ugly aspects emerging as India becomes transparent, can squarely be placed at the foot of the anti-national camp. Whether corruption of breathtaking magnitude. Or complete indifference to Indian causes, especially those dear to the sons of the soil.

    And what the pro-nationals have pointed out, is that the so called impartial media have shamelessly PRESStituted themselves to the anti-national cause. This is the subject of much loved ridicule. Of how the pro-nationals are afraid of these champions of truth. Of how pro-nationals attack the honourable crusaders of objectivity. The last untainted bastion of Indian freedom.

    Well. What a shame that it transpires that this group of vastly overpaid scoundrels is nothing but a rotten mouthpiece of vested interests.

    Why are you surprised? The conclusion was inevitable.

    There is a sharp fault-line in the Indian scene, across which 2 camps stand in stark confrontation. This is not in dispute.

    Defining them is difficult.

    – National vs anti-national is not a correct description. Many courtiers have dallied with the former, only to later drift away to the arms of the latter, like National Congress & TMC. Further, there are many India-lovers in the latter; perhaps they view the what they believe to be ultra-nationalism with suspicion, preferring an eclectic global approach, even if at a partial cost to the nation.

    – Left and Right is also not a good description. The successful poverty alleviation solutions of the ‘right’ in Gujarat and Bihar have put the criminal left regimes in WB & Kerala to shame, while the left leaning ‘Socialist’ Congress has unleashed pogroms that would make the one-time German chicken-farmer (Himmler) writhe in envy.

    – I don’t think anti-secular vs secular, or anti-Muslim vs pro-Muslim is correct either. It is evident that the secular façade is just that, a convenient façade. And the anti-Muslim stance may not be due to inherent anti-secularism. It may be a fervent desire, as in my case, to ensure perfect harmony among different faiths , by boldly identifying and confronting the brutally monolithic, ruthlessly anti-other, kaffir eliminating ideology that distinguishes itself uniquely among all faiths. So in an ironic way, the anti-seculars may be the true seculars, and vice versa.

    Perhaps pro-national and non-national is a better term. The outlining philosophy, the symbolism employed, the cultural motifs of the beliefs underline that. So where in its best and purest form, the BJP-core would believe in putting India first, the Congress-core would put the world (including India) first. Thus while the BJP would prefer to arm India to the teeth, the Congress, per Nehru’s desire, would prefer to disband the army to achieve world piece.

    Thus I think the terms pro-national and non-national are apt.

    In my opinion, the pro-national camp is infinitely better.

    Many BJP members are corrupt rotten. Yet perhaps they would baulk at sleazing to such an extent that the nation would suffer perceptible harm. The non-nationals have no such qualms. And thus the India-hating DMK can suck away billions copiously from the blood-toil built resources of that very India.

    The BJP may have bumbled miserably on Kandahar. But they would not actively send assistance to a Sri Lanka to horribly massacre innocent people of Indian heritage. The BJP may have been caught unawares on Kargil, but they would not actively flood the state with Muslim policemen to gain a few extra votes.

    Manmohan is a man of perfect integrity, high morals and great efficiency. His economic actions have swayed India’s destiny in a new direction. Yet is this hardly a non-national ‘achievement’. All this man has done is reverse the inaction, ineptitude, and frankly, Nehruvian idiocy that the non-national camp has plunged a grand nation like India in to for the last FIFTY YEARs.

    And as the world is preparing for a brutal economic showdown between China & USA, or a gruelling war between Muslims & kaffirs, the international policies of the non-national camp s.how that it is living in a blissful lala-land.

    Instead of expressing ‘displeasure’ at China stapling J&K visas, why doesn’t India staple visas for Tibetan visitors. Why does an India meekly accept Modi’s visa being turned down instead of screaming hoarse when a war criminal like Musharraf is feted? I’ll tell you why. Because those same non-national bunch of goons pleaded with foreign governments to do so.

    Thus in spite of the contrary notions of individuals within the non-national camp, their internal constitution is such, that they will inevitably turn out to be anti-national.

    To answer this, we have to first stand back and study at a few facts.

    Where is the source of funding? Where does global money lie? In the hands of the Middle East. In the hands of Western governments. In the hands of China.
    And how de these entities view India? The ME & China certainly hate India. Up to a few years ago, India was certainly a military foe of the West. Perhaps the military mistrust has waned now, but India is still viewed as an object of contempt.

    So basically, the ones who can flood India with ready money are the enemies of India.

    Now, what sort of personages run the media industry in India? Are they trenchant journalists, ready to starve themselves to penury in defence of a cause? Or are they out for a good time and a quick buck for themselves?

    Are they ready to stand isolated against brutal forces? Or are they ready, willing and able to sell their country down the pan for a few millions?

    Are they ready to court infamy by standing up for their wretched, brutalised countrymen? Or blend in globally, perhaps gain a few international trinkets, by contributing giggling to the relentless, incessant ridicule and harangue of their nation?

    What do you think? Look at the personages. I am not talking about the Shekhar Kapoors, or the few brave journalists like Varsha Bhosle and Arun Shourie who focus on their integrity rather than their bank accounts, with risible bank statements to prove so. Do their relatives include the likes of Matangini Hazra? Or confirmed liars like Arundhati Roy. Would they spend time with a Kiran Bedi, or avowed, cheating India haters like Teesta Setalvad (or whatever her real name is).

    Would they spend time covering the murder of a child by terrorists in Varanasi? Or rather focus on the undergarments of a Yana Gupta … on the same day? You draw your own conclusions.

    Me, I know that this criminal media-monkey troupe lies fat and square in sanctum-sanctorum of the non-national = anti-national camp.

    Many had highlighted the disgusting impartiality of the propaganda empire posing as mainstream media in India a long time back. Many had highlighted that the false, fabricated, criminal Tehelka half-lies posing as exposures were published the very day Kofi Annan was supposed to visit India and claim that the UN Resolution on Kashmir was useless.

    The previous day Pakistan goes berserk. The next day Tehelka strikes. Can you imagine how many innocent Indians have been murdered as a result of this sickening treachery? For this act alone, a China would have arranged for a castration of the criminal. Sans anaesthetic.

    And now we are expressing surprise that the anti-national elements in the media are distorting reportage not out of integrity, but criminality?

    Are we really that naiive?

  57. Me again in the prior comment.

  58. H2B2,is this drivel plagiarised as well?


  59. @ DM – “H2B2,is this drivel plagiarised as well”

    Yes. I got it from the matriarch of your family yesterday.

    Guess where?

    And guess how?

  60. Alright, H2B2, sorry. I read the other post & realise Debarman was refering to GB’s article being quoted, not your comment.

    Hey, I was just pulling your leg.

  61. Alright DM, apology accepted. I am FAR more interested in your VIEWs on my comment above. My comment highlights an issue that is critical for the nation, so please read it carefully.

    My comment says that India can clearly be divided in to 2 camps, pro & anti-national. The former is not squeaky white. Neither is the latter completely evil – it has many sincere well-wishers – yet due to this camp’s philosophy, constitution and nature, it is bound to degenerate in to anti-nationalism.

    This anti-national camp has been responsible for 90% of India’s woes and plight, whether blazing corruption, stark inefficiency, or horrible acts that have harmed us as a nation.

    We need to ensure a spade is called a spade, a heart a heart. Otherwise we’ll be relentlessly sworn at if we turn left, and sworn at if we turn right.

    On the one hand, the BBC sifts through Indian sewers left rotting by the incompetence of the anti-national lobby, assembles a collage of filth, and parades it as Indian.

    Then in the very same breath, the BBC turns to Gujarat, carefully avoiding Modi’s booming success story (& lack of rotting sewers to boot), and exclusively distorts Gujarat’s defence against Islamist terrorism, screaming “communal, racist, barbaric, Nazi” and whatever. And ALSO call this Indian.

    The media-monkeys thus take the lowest factor from both sides, and mocks that as Hindu / Indian. They are HAVING IT BOTH WAYs (no double entendre intended).

    They shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.

    Either fix the anti-national camp as Indian, and then be forced to concede that Hinduism is the world’s best example of tolerance and secularism, where fanatic creeds that have massacred India’s inhabitants in millions over millennia, are not ejected, but feted and pampered as cherished guests & precious jamai-rajas with special privilege.

    Klaus Barbie
    Even the liberal PC West is not that secular or democratic. True, they ‘attempted’ something similar when the CIA befriended senior Nazis & helped them to flee Europe.

    I am not talking of soft-Nazis like Von Braun (the father of the American Space Program), but hard-core criminals like Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyons. The one who’d inject acid in to the lungs of his victims, and whose ‘sport’ it was to shoot victims at the back of the head at the top of a flight of stairs, so their falling corpses could perform a perfect somersault on the way down.

    After his CIA collaboration in Europe was in fear of exposure, the CIA helped him emigrate to Argentinn, where he was quickly assimilated in to the Bolivian army. Tongue in cheek, he didn’t even think it necessary to change his first name when he adopted his new identity as Klaus Altman!!

    He was made an honorary colonel in the Bolivian army (some dispute this, though he was certainly a high-ranking intelligence officer), and carried out grisly assassinations for South American right-wing generals ….. there are strong rumours that it was Barbie’s group who was behind the trapping and murder of CHE GUEVARA!

    Now it is true that the benign CIA had forgiven Barbie’s mass-murder (some claim this was out of cold-war realpolitik rather than the lactose of human kindness), but to reach the level of how INDIA forgives and even REWARDs time-immortal brutalisers, the West would have to first crown Himmler and Barbie with the Nobel Peace Price, and appoint Heydrich as Pope Heidi Ist !! Pax vobiscum, Sieg Heil!!

    Until they do that, Hinduism remains the world’s greatest beacon of religious tolerance and secularism. And should be identified as such by the BBC. Only then the BBC can display its cherished gallery of scatophilia and call that Indian too.

    If BBC wants to take the other way, they should accept the self-admitted bedrock of Hindu faith, Gujarat, as a typical e.g. of Hinduism.

    Accredit Gujarat’s immense social & economic progress on all fronts as Hindu. Revise a perverted definition of Hindu growth rate from 3% to 10%. And then the BBC is free to indulge in swearing at Hinduism for Modi’s action / inaction during the Godhra backlash.

    For decency, the BBC should keep out the fabricated rubbish of now well-exposed criminal liars like Teesta and Arundhoti (or whatever their real names are … hah, even their public names are fake), and mention the fact that Godhra reprisals were after the active impotence, wilful inaction and assiduously contrived distortion by the anti-national lobby (think Lalloo’s comments on RSS potentially burning its own people).

    This after 50 completely innocent Hindu women, children and others were BURNT ALIVE by baying butchers. No wonder people exploded in fury, whether we condone it or not (I don’t).

    Will this enforced return to media veracity ever happen without the intervention / internet activism of you & I ? No. Media-monkeys will continue to take the ugliest facets in the mutually exclusive anti & pro-national camps, & pass both of the filth as Indian. This pettiness is ignorant, false & puerile.

    Then again when were certain sections of the media anything but such? One friend of mine commented that the only way to get certain British newscaster puppets to move their lips was for Islamist terrorists to tilt 15% and pass a series of deep & rumbling kame-kazis.

    On a burning day, if India sits in the shade, the media monkeys do not drool ‘cool’, but “look, look. How disgustingly so not hot material”. And on a freezing day when a warmly wrapped India walks by, the dogs start barking “Oh look how UNCOOL ugly India is”.

    Sigh. Help us DM

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