Time Group on Sunday broke its silence on the Cobrapost’s Operation 136 exposing corruption in the Indian media. As part of the undercover operation, the Cobrapost journalist Pushp Sharma had caught the Times Group’s Managing Director Vineet Jain on camera, where he was seen seen suggesting methods to funnel the cash, through industrialists such as the Dalmia Group, Essar and Adani.
The cash in question was suggested by the journalist in exchange of pushing the Hindutva content on platforms owned by Times Group.
In the video, posted by Cobrapost, Jain was seen telling Sharma to pay any of these industrialists in cash, suggesting that they would in turn pay the Times Group by cheque.
On Sunday, a report by Times of India attacked Sharma questioning his pedigree as a journalist. It added that Pushp Sharma was arrested by Delhi police in May 2016 for allegedly fabricating an RTI reply to publish a report claiming the government was discriminating against Muslims in recruitment of yoga trainers by the AYUSH ministry. The Delhi Police reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs under the BJP government.
Quoting a BCCL (the parent group of Times Group) spokesperson, the ToI report said, “A spokesperson of BCCL stated they had sent a detailed communication to Cobrapost in this regard, and Cobrapost has maliciously not put forth the true facts regarding the episode before the public. This has been done to mislead the public and to fabricate a scandal. The fact is that BCCL senior functionaries were aware that the person (Pushp Sharma) claiming to be Acharya Atal was an imposter well before they started discussions with him. They were acting under the advice of the BCCL legal team to trap the fraudster and to discover his true intent and details of the people, political formations or businesses backing him. Essentially, BCCL was in the process of carrying out a reverse sting with a plan to make the so-called Acharya Atal commit a mistake or even sign legal contracts so as to expose the people and organisations behind him.
“The spokesperson also confirmed that there are various pieces of evidence in this regard available with BCCL on how it sought to trap the fraudster journalist Pushp Sharma. BCCL is now seeking legal opinion in order to initiate appropriate action against Cobrapost and Pushp Sharma for their illegal activities and for defamation.”
Meanwhile, Navika Kumar of Times Now (TV channel owned by BCCL), tweeted the link of the ToI report and asked if it was right to call Cobrapost a media house. She asked, “An attempt by media to sully the name of media by foul means. Should Cobrapost really be called media? Shameful!!”
An attempt by media to sully the name of media by foul means. Should Cobrapost really be called media? Shameful!!https://t.co/KyOfLEClfa
— navika kumar (@navikakumar) May 27, 2018
This prompted to social media users to start trolling the senior editor of Times Now channel with many asking ‘Look who’s talking?”
You and your entire show is shameful ! What have you done in your whole career? Sat inside an AC room and shouted at people? Cobrapost on the other hand has done numerous stories about dalit killings, the banking operation (operation red spider) and now operation 136 !
— Rhea (@Rhea21890282) May 27, 2018
Hahaha look who’s talking
No one is getting fooled by your lies anymore. Read the replies to your tweet, they’ll put some sense into you.
People of India are very thankful to @cobrapost for exposing paid media channels.
— Dhruv Rathee (@dhruv_rathee) May 27, 2018
Awwwwww so cute Navika!
Maybe you should advise @vineetjaintimes to run a chaddi banian business instead of owning a media house….on 2nd thoughts u guys are actually chaddis daily…lol
— Priya Yadav (@priyapyadav18) May 27, 2018
Highlighting Times Now’s biases in favour of the BJP, some users sought to remind Kumar how she had giggled and laughed when the BJP’s Ram Madhav openly boasted of his party chief’s poaching skills in the immediate aftermath of the Karnataka assembly polls results. User Pranjit wrote, “Still remember how you giggled n grinned when Ram Madhav said,”Don’t worry, We have Amit Shah!”…shameful journalism!”
Still remember how you giggled n grinned when Ram Madhav said,”Don’t worry, We have Amit Shah!”…shameful journalism!
— Pranjit (@pran_en) May 27, 2018
Another user Sachindra Rajavaram agreed, “If anything that’s shameful it’s your devilish laugh when Ram Madhav said “ We have Amit Shah” . People who watch Tv are not blind!”
If anything that’s shameful it’s your devilish laugh when Ram Madhav said “ We have Amit Shah” . People who watch Tv are not blind!
— Shachindra Rajavaram (@rshachindra) May 27, 2018
Ram Madhav was on Times Now TV when he was asked by Navika Kumar how his party would garner the majority since it had fallen short of the required 112 seats in Karnataka. To which, Madhav had laughingly told Kumar not to worry since he had Amit Shah, the BJP’s national president. This was widely implied as glorification to Shah’s poaching skills. Madhav’s boasting had prompted Kumar to burst out in happy laughter. The video of her laughter had gone viral with many questioning the ethics in Indian media. (See the video below)
Hamare pass Amit Shah hai. – @rammadhavbjp
Yes. We are glad that you have Amit Shah. And his place has been shown to him, in his game. Gali ke gundon ko aise hi aukat dikhaya jaata hai. pic.twitter.com/lMhLjTFWXQ
— Sumit Kashyap (@sumitkashyapjha) May 19, 2018