Ranjona Banerji: Time for Bennett Coleman to take a stand on Times Now’s toxic programming

30 Oct,2018

By Ranjona Banerji

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news fairly and accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame.”

This is US President Donald Trump tweeting soon after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting where a white supremacist walked into a synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people. Robert Bowers believed that Jews were allowing unwanted migrants into America.

So which was the fake news? Whatever led Bowers to believe this or the report that Bowers is an anti-Semitic white supremacist?

Because, then there’s this tweet from Trump:

“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country. Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”

Trump then went on to accuse the media of misreporting his tweets and claiming that Trump was blaming the media when in fact he had specified he was blaming the “Fake News” media. Of course, so far, Trump has accused every major news outlet in America of being Fake News, barring the right wing.

Couple this with a very frightening expose on how the far right manipulated and used social media for electoral gains done by BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Broderick and you understand how dangerous Donald Trump really sounds.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/ryanhatesthis/brazil-jair-bolsonaro-facebook-elections?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR0_EaZNNZzI_cTq4gXrJAwbei1-4VzeD_H-HP-FwJquMvIOeVDLXxj5UuM

The difference however between India and America is that large parts of the Indian media remains largely in the pocket of the BJP and its affiliates, rather than confronting those in power, which is what upsets Trump so much. Those Indian media outlets which do try and hold the government to scrutiny are harassed with tax cases or various defamation threats from those close to the government.

Republic TV gets much flak but at least it does not pretend to be a fair and objective part of the mainstream media. No, those news channels which claim to be mainstream media are some of the worst of lot. And sadly, Times Now is the flagbearer for this group. After the Supreme Court of India decided to schedule the hearing of Ayodhya dispute case (to build a Ram temple on the site of Babri Masjid demolished illegally by BJP and RSS affiliates and the Shiv Sena) to January, Times Now came out blazing on the behalf of “Hindus”.

Anchor Navika Kumar discussed these issues: “Mandir not priority” and “Hindu Aastha not a priority”. What can one understand from this except that Times Now has some stake in building a Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Masjid. The case over the illegal demolition still drags on by the way, but well, who cares, right? If you couple this sort of programming with the other Times Now show, “The Right Stand”, you understand how right wing hatred for everyone not Hindu in India is being spread.

Yes, Mirror Now is far better than Times Now, yes the Times of India and other newspapers do not follow this sort of non-journalism but the time has come for Bennett Coleman to ask if that is enough. How and why is its flagship “news’ channel being allowed to spread hatred through its shows? We are now at a stage where Arnab Goswami’s successors are worse than him at his worst.

And that’s saying something.

**

The Network of Women in Media and the Mumbai Press Club held a discussion on the #MeToo movement on October 24. Here is a report on the proceedings. Kudos for not having a “manel”, to allow men to mansplain sexual harassment to women.

http://nwmindia.org/component/k2/metoo-will-not-stop-ripple-effect-to-continue-urgent-need-to-address-toxic-and-sexist-culture-of-newsrooms

**

Having praised the Times of India re; Times Now, I am sent this deplorable TOI Mumbai front page headline. #Facepalm as the young people say.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal

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