Ranjona Banerji: Faked NYT Front-page: Whattan Embarrassment!

01 Oct,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji


The front page of the New York Times with Narendra Modi presented, in the headline, as the “Best, last hope of Earth” zipped through social media faster than Formula 1 cars manage at their best.


The image may have been funny to some (okay, it was, ridiculously so!) but it shows just how well the BJP’s IT Cell knows its indoctrinated flock, which so easily manages without a functioning brain cell amongst the herd. It also demonstrates how desperate the BJP and its supporters are for international approval. Because not only was the whole front page a photo of Modi but the only text, below the headline, read: “World’s most loved and most powerful leader, is here to bless us”.


Factcheckers pointed to the fact that “September” was spelt wrong. But, by then, vast swatches of brainwashed Modi fans had swallowed the whole con effortlessly.


Imagine how embarrassing for the rest of us that the New York Times had to issue a clarification, with a red line across the Indian Prime Minister’s face, which read: “This is a completely fabricated image, one of many in circulation featuring Prime Minister Modi.”


The clarification went on to provide links to the actual coverage of Modi, not all of which was complimentary let alone laudatory or worshipping or indeed with Modi presented as the last hope of this planet. How cringeworthy.


The chicanery of the BJP’s IT Cell apart, much of the blame also lies with India’s supine media. The sad fact is that Modi’s visit to the US did not get the sort of hysterical reaction from the American media that Modi fans have been led to expect. And the Biden administration was not as welcoming as Donald Trump had been either, when Modi campaigned for Trump’s second term with his infamous “Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar”. And compared to Modi’s first visit to the US as president, when the Indian media, especially television media, thrashed about in orgasmic frenzy outside Madison Square Garden, truckloads of antifreeze could not have made this time’s reception even halfway comparable.


No. The US media largely ignored Modi as did the UN General Assembly.


What option, you might argue, did the poor BJP IT Cell have but to invent the most ridiculous and crass rubbish to cover up this Grand Ignore? Earlier America’s powerful TV comedians would take Modi up on his bigotry or other nonsense. Did even they bother this time?


This desperation to present Modi as the greatest ever at all times has led to the mainstream media trashing opposition politicians, academics, thinkers, farmers, students, activists and journalists. Not as shameful on a global scale as faking a New York Times front page but worse as far as media integrity is concerned is the apology video of Navika Kumar of Times Now. Kumar is Group Editor of the largely pro-Modi, pro-Hindutva, Islamophobic “news” channel which belongs to the Bennett Coleman Group and consistently destroys the credibility of all journalists who work for other group publications. To watch Ms Kumar simpering and purring with joy when she speaks to BJP leaders is a lesson in how to be a successful TV anchor in India without displaying an iota of journalism.



Anyway, having used the word “bloody” in a show about Rahul Gandhi in a somewhat derogatory manner, Kumar then apologised – without mentioning context – and presented herself as a faultless perfect anchor until now. Such arrogance and lack of self-awareness perhaps also explains her lack of journalism.



I can safely say that in over 35 years in the media, I have made innumerable bloody errors!


This column is not one of them, I can affirm in proper bloody Navika Kumar style!


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal



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