Ranjona Banerji: Times Now uses fake news to spread hate, again

30 Nov,2018

By Ranjona Banerji

 

“Social media is the #1 reason for the spread of fake news, hate, caste-based discrimination & violence. This is bcoz of poor moderation policy, word limit, no editing allowed and anonymity on #Twitter. Gov needs to legislate that Laws of defamation apply equally to all media.”

This is a tweet from Vineet Jain (@vineetjaintimes, screenshot below), managing director of Bennett Coleman & Co, media tycoon. “My views are personal and diff from times”, says his bio on Twitter.

Which is all very well but does not absolve Mr Jain of all responsibility from the bilge that pretends to be journalism that is Times Now. This “news” channel from BCCL remains such an abomination that the forthright and courageous Mirror Now is, and how solid the reporting and news coverage of various editions of The Times of India are, cannot cover up Times Now’s shameless and irresponsible hate-mongering.

Just this week, Times Now’s screaming anchors had this no-editing-visible-I don’t-know-about “allowed” debate on how the Congress Party’s manifesto in Telangana was “sabotaging secularism” because it was in “hunt for 90 % Muslim vote”. The hashtag ran: #CongressforMuslims.

This is just one more example of the communal angle given to everything by Times Now. And not just is it hate-mongering, the whole debate and story was nothing more than “fake news”. As the report from Alt News below shows, Times Now’s special group of bigots cherry-picked their way through the Congress manifesto and then created a “Muslim versus Others” debate.

Times Now and Republic TV misreport Congress manifesto for Telangana as Muslim-centric

Republic TV is also named in the Alt News report. However, Republic TV is nothing more than a BJP mouthpiece (anyone remember that “independent journalism” guff that Arnab Goswami fed us when he left Times Now? How funny was that?) and therefore, it does what we expect it too. But Times Now, unless it declares that it wants to help start communal riots in India, needs better scrutiny. From us and from its owners.

What is also surprising about Vineet Jain’s tweet is that it asks for government legislation on social media. The Indian Newspapers Association has strongly fought any government intervention when it comes to important matters like pay scales for their employees. I do remember a long, impassioned edit page piece from a former BCCL CEO about how his driver might get a massive salary hike because of government intervention. Have you heard anything so shocking? That a driver should get paid more? Shudder.

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While Times Now is hellbent on stoking sectarian fires, India’s farmers are streaming into Delhi asking for the government to listen to them. This is not the first time in the last four years or in the recent past. But our political classes, many of whom claim to represent farmers, rarely want to go beyond lip service. And our journalists? Well, for years we were told that agriculture was too far away from big city problems. But now the farmers are in our big cities. How will our pro-government, “patriotic” journalists try to protect Narendra Modi and his government from the enormous mess it has landed our farmers in?

We shall wait and watch. Meanwhile, from Scroll.in, a ready reckoner on why India’s farmers have made this long, hard journey to the national capital.

https://scroll.in/article/903811/scroll-explainer-why-farmers-are-marching-to-delhi

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And in other news, the Hindustan Times decided to carry a puff piece on Arun Jaitley’s “great work” on the Indian economy, by MJ Akbar of all people. Sometimes, words fail.

 

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

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