Left-liberal media subverts truth

published on August 7, 2011

Shashi Shekhar – Daily Pioneer, OPED

[ It is now an established practice with the Left-leaning English language media, both newspapers and television channels, to manufacture outrageous lies that paint the BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular in the bleakest of colours. There’s no point in highlighting these lies because those who peddle them will not set the record straight. For them, ‘politically correct’ fiction has come to replace facts]

Here is a trick question: Which Amir Khan movie was banned by a State Government? If one goes by historian Ramachandra Guha’s recent column in The Telegraph on July 30, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi banned at least one Amir Khan movie. The reality, however, is that no Amir Khan movie has ever been banned by any State Government.

Here is another trick question: What did Mr Amit Shah do during the 2002 riots? If one goes by an ‘exclusive report’ filed by an unnamed NDTV correspondent on August 5, Mr Amit Shah was the Home Minister of Gujarat during the riots. Not just that, if one goes by NDTV’s version of reality, Mr Amit Shah is also being investigated for his role as Home Minister during the riots. The reality, however, is that it was Mr Gordhan Zadaphiya who was the Home Minister in 2002 and who incidentally is not even associated with the BJP anymore.

It would be a mistake to dismiss these instances as oversights, honest mistakes or stray events. This is not the first instance of Delhi’s English language media (both electronic and print) distorting facts to suit a narrative that is critical of Mr Modi. One can recount at least two instances in the past of the Indian Express failing to do a fact check when it came to editorials or news analysis on Mr Modi.

A common refrain on Twitter from many Delhi-based English language media worthies is that they are unfairly accused of bias by the many anonymous voices on Twitter and other social media that identify themselves with the BJP. But the media themselves have much blame to carry for their credibility within some sections of their audience being at an all time low.

The attitude against the media has been hardened further within this section of their readership and audience largely on account of the frequency at which Mr Modi is invoked in conjunction with distorted facts and dubious historical accounts. Another common complaint from within this section of the readership and audience is the failure of the Delhi-based English language media in taking an adversarial line against the many failings of the UPA Government. The English language media’s record on this is at best mixed given that many of the so-called ‘exclusive exposes’ have in fact been inspired leaks and not necessarily the result of investigative journalism but for some notable exceptions.

The net effect of this perception of being soft on the UPA Government when combined with these repeated instances of distorted reporting and biased opinion-making with no fact-checking has created this situation where the English language media’s credibility is at an all-time low. Left-liberal bias in the English language media is a reality that can no longer be credibly denied. It may not be all pervasive and not all of this bias may be conscious.

To a large degree this bias is reflective of how Left-leaning thoughts and ideas have become seeped into the sub-conscious to become the default template for analysis and discussion on contemporary political issues.

Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing in an essay published in The New York Times on the subject of ‘Political Correctness’ had this to say about how ideological predilections of the Left have come to influence language and by extension how we think.

In that essay Ms Lessing writes that “Communism had debased language and with language thought”. She then goes on to say that “Words confined to the Left as corralled animals had passed into general use and, with them, ideas”. It is striking how according to her “One might read whole articles in the conservative and liberal Press that were Marxist, but the writers did not know it”. Ms Lessing then goes on to clarify “I am not suggesting that the torch of Communism has been handed on to the political correctors. I am suggesting that habits of mind have been absorbed.”

Much of what Ms Lessing writes can be said of Left-liberalism in India that has subtly seeped into commentary, activism and that last of sanctuaries in our democracy — the judiciary as well. Ms Lessing singles out how the words “commitment” and “raising consciousness” had come to acquire a politically correct meaning much thanks to the dominant Left-leaning discourse. In the context of Indian Left-liberalism we can perhaps add the keywords “neo-liberal”, “fascist” in combination with references to Mr Modi and Gujarat to construct that default template that has come to be the politically correct natural way of thinking.

It is unlikely Mr Guha will ever acknowledge that he got his facts wrong on the issue of movie banning by Mr Modi. An opening reference to Mr Modi in his column had its desired shock and awe effect, evoking images of draconian assaults on freedom of speech. It is also unlikely that NDTV will acknowledge that Mr Shah was not the Home Minister during the 2002 riots. Its piece had the desired effect of undermining the SIT-led investigations.

Truth may ultimately prevail in the courts of law but as far as the courts of public opinion in India go, agenda-driven Left-liberalism has subordinated the truth.

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