In the one week, most of the people I've come across had never heard about the explosive expose that was the x-tapes, which is now famously known as the 'Barkhagate'. For those who still doesn't known what its all about, this link might help. In short, Open magazine released a set of phone conversations that the well known PR agent Niira Radia had with various well known personalities. These include the face of NDTV Bark(ing)ha Dutt, top journo Vir Sanghvi, Ratan Tata, former telecom minister A.Raja and more. No, its not the usual talk. These people were involved in discussions on deciding the portfolios of the current UPA cabinet. And, most damningly, they played a key role in fetching the corrupt A.Raja a second term. They were also involved in the Ambani brothers fight, gas deals etc with Vir Sanghvi taking about scripted interviews and the like.
To think that our top journos are more than news gatherers is, shocking. They are power brokers of the worst kind who lobbies hard to thrust upon us corrupt leaders. The garb of patriots and concerned social activists that these people don when they talk to us from the studios is all part of the 'fooling the gullible pulic mechanism'. It all looks like a well oiled machinery which been working perfectly over the last few years. A machinery consisting of the big corporate, politicians and the media. The old days of journalists having commitment to the society are over. We all thought 'paid news' was the lowest that Indian media can stoop down to. Even this revelation might be the tip of the iceberg. Another issue is the media's anger at sting operations(a favourite tool of all these channels) when its used against them. Suddenly, they start speaking about issues of intrusion into a person's privacy and such issues. They speak of 'freedom of expression' every other day in the panel discussions. But, we all saw how Barkha Dutt sued a poor blogger and made his life difficult for writing a single blog about her questionable journalistic tactics, which put the life of solidiers into danger at Kargil and Mumbai. Yeah, 'Freedom of expression' is a dish best served at the media studios. Padmashri Barkha(wonder what all and whose all she sucked to get that Padmashri), its time to stop those hoarse discourses in your studios.
Whats more alarming than all this is the SILENCE, the silence of the mainstream media regarding this issue. Even the Hindu, one of India's must trusted newspapers didn't give much coverage to the 'x-tapes'(They did make up after 1 week with a real good editorial on the same). Not to mention all the 24 hour news channels who usually jump at the chance of the cheapest of exposes. What this points to is the fact that beyond all the rivalry between the media groups, all of them are infact together in this game, a dirty game played at the upper echelons where crores are exchanged and the common man's lives are sold to powerful corporations. So, if these guys decide, they can easily control what we should hear and what we shouldn't. The fact that only few people heard about this expose points to this. Most Indians depend on the mainstream media for news and if they decide to blackout a news item, we are sure to be in dark about the same. If not for twitter and facebook, the x-tapes wouldn't have got even the small attention that it has got now. A magazine like Open has only a limited readership, mostly in urban pockets. Same is the case with the above mentioned social networks. So, a big percentage of the public would never know about 'Barkhagate'. They will continue to blindly believe whatever the media says. And if they can blackout such a big scandal, they can also produce false news as a propaganda mechanism against someone they hate. NDTV says its statement on the 'x-tapes' that, "These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action". If thats the case, why are they all shying away from discussing the same. Why is not a single reader comment appearing under this particular statement? Even when such inconsequential things like Pamela's silicon boob show in Big boss are given 30 minute special attention on national news channels, an issue as big as this is blacked out. Not to forget, the minute details of Obama's visit which were served to us for about 1 month. And, in the end hailing the whole visit as a success for the country, when all Obama did was sell his shit in India and make some 'hollow speeches' on how India is ready to take on the world. Yes, corporate interests at play there too. I've lost whatever little trust I had left in mainstream Indian media. Here, am bidding goodbye to the manufactured news with a middle fingered salute. Only hope is left in magazines like Tehelka and Open and in newspapers like Hindu.
It badly affects the democracy when one of its four pillars is afflicted with a cancer like this. Its even more so when the other 3 pillars namely legislature, judiciary and executive are at their rotten best. All hopes of the press being a balancing force which questions the wrong decisions of the other three and acts as a champion for the cause of the common man, are dashed. Now, the common man is left to fight all the pillars himself.
your crusader Praveen