News agency IANS (Indo-Asian News Service) has lifted a satire piece published on a Pakistani website to pass it off as serious news prompting many Indian news outlets such as Outlook to reproduce it on their websites. The article syndicated by IANS to its clients claimed that Pakistani Prime Minister had read ‘chart upside down’ before declaring that the COVID-19 curve in his country was flattening.
[Claim: Imran Khan goofs up by claiming that the COVID-19 curve has flattened after reading his chart upside down
Fact Check: FALSE]
Among those outlets carrying the IANS article in question included Outlook and Newsd websites. The headlines of both the websites identically read, “Imran Khan reads chart upside down, claims COVID curve flattening.”
While the Outlook website credited the story to IANS, the Newsd’s article identified the author of the IANS piece as one Aarti Singh Tikoo, whose Twitter says that she works as the ‘Foreign & Strategic Affairs Editor’ for the IANS. Outlook website too carried the initials of the article’s author, stating it to be ‘aat.’
What’s the truth?
While making a claim on Imran Khan’s alleged gaffe, he IANS report said, “However, a political aide Salim Kheshgi, noticing that the Prime Minister had goofed up, quickly whispered something into his ear. Khan’s mood changed quickly, “Pakistan Today reported.
Pakistani Today ran the story by clearly declaring it to be a piece of satire (see below).
The website also left a footnote stating that ‘The above piece is a work of satire and does not present itself as the truth.’
Aarti Tikoo Singh, the author of this piece, later issued a public apology. She wrote on Twitter, “I mistook satire for serious news. The hate-AartiTikoo brigade in its frenzy is projecting as if my mistake is the biggest ever crime. Yes, stupid of me; I apologise for my error. But imagine the journos who deliberately peddle Pakistani propaganda & bigotry against India daily.”
Meanwhile, Twitterati can’t hide their amusement on the gaffe committed by IANS. Even the Twitter handle of the creator of the satire has taken a dig at the IANS;
Learn to differentiate between satire and actual news reports @ians_india
And hands off our PM. He may be a petty, facile, undemocratically imposed lackey without principles, but he’s OUR petty, facile, undemocratically imposed lackey without principles! pic.twitter.com/mrTIeS4SBl
— Not The Dependent (@DependentNot) May 7, 2020
So, Aarti Tikoo Singh ran a satire piece as a story on IANS? pic.twitter.com/BoSx4v7lLb
— Abhishek Baxi (@baxiabhishek) May 7, 2020
— Gargi Rawat (@GargiRawat) May 7, 2020
India’s Joan of Arc and selective free speech advocate, “journalist” Aarti Tikoo Singh, falls for satire on Imran Khan and publishes it as a news story under her byline for news agency @ians_india . LOL.? https://t.co/PEMlNofpaq
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) May 7, 2020
Lol. Aarti Tikoo Singh basically copied this post from @dependent_the without realising it was satire. It’s been deleted but the damage is there to see. PS, it was about Imran Khan. pic.twitter.com/M4jccs43s6
— ST (@shobz) May 7, 2020