Such is the state of journalism in India that now a politician has had to teach a senior TV journalist how not to fake quotes during the interview.
Times Now channel was recently in the news for misleading its audience with fake news on deportation of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. Just few days later, its editor, Navika Kumar, has been caught faking quotes during the broadcast of its flagship programme, Frankly Speaking.
Kumar was interviewing Congress MP from Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, on her channel’s interview-based programme. As part of the interview, Kumar asked Scindia if he agreed with his party colleague Salman Khurshid who, according to her, had questioned Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s leadership capabilities.
This is what Kumar asked, “Salman Khurshid, just a few weeks ago, in Frankly Speaking, told me that when it comes to mahagathbandhan or the leadership issue, it’s Sonia Gandhi, who will have to play a role because Rahul Gandhi does not still have the stature and he does not have the victories under his belt to convince opposition parties to come together.”
Before Kumar could continue further, Scindia interjected and pointedly asked her, “Is that Salman Khurshid’s quote or is that your deduction?” Kumar said, “It’s his quote. May I read it out to you?” Scindia asked, “Did he say that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have …” A visibly embarrassed Times Now editor confessed that Khurshid had not made these comments.
This left Scindia visibly infuriated prompting him to give Kumar an on-air crash course on journalism. He said, “So that’s my question..When you are quoting someone and you should know it better than I do, please restrict yourself to quotes and then say unquote and then come to your deduction. Because you clubbed those two together very conveniently.”
An embarrassed Kumar desperately tried to defend herself saying that ‘so corollary doesn’t follow in your theorem?’ “No it doesnt,” said Scindia.
The Congress’s social media chief, Divya Spandana, was quick to attack Kumar. She tweeted, “How and Not to speak frankly- Hear it from @JM_Scindia.” But those condemning Kumar for unethical journalism weren’t just politicians. Journalist Swati Chaturvedi wrote, “Poor Navika exposed so badly by @JM_Scindia.” Journalist Rohini Singh tweeted, “Navika clearly wasn’t expecting this from @JM_Scindia!”
Last week Times Now, along with NDTV, Republic and ABP had broadcast fake news on the deportation of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. Times Now in particular had termed the development a ‘watershed moment’ for Indian diplomacy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Just couple of days later, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had rubbished Indian media reports while categorically stating that the Islamic preacher will not be deported. On Saturday, Naik had posted photos of his meeting with the Malaysian prime minister.