Fake news and false narratives are a menace. Not only are they an assault on the truth but also serve to insidiously divide society and the nation. Busting fake news and false narratives are a service to the nation and The True Picture is doing exactly that. It is a travesty that self-proclaimed purveyors of ‘journalism of courage’ want to run down someone who is doing exactly that. This travesty, where people are hounded for running a fact-check website, is a commentary on the state of the mainstream media today.
The Indian Express ran a report on The True Picture and seemed to take exception to our story “Four Major Fake News Stories Busted”, which featured two stories by the Indian Express. One of these was a story around the reported murder of a Dalit youth in Bhavnagar, Gujarat and the other was a story on the Government’s approach towards the Dalai Lama event that happened recently.
On the reported murder of the Dalit youth, here is Indian Express’s headline. “For riding horse, upper caste men kill Dalit youth in Gujarat”.
Is the Indian Express part of any court of justice that it unequivocally proclaimed that the Dalit youth was killed for riding the horse? We are sure Indian Express with all its wonderful knowledge of the English language knows exactly what this headline means. Does their knowledge of English not include the words “allegedly” or “reportedly” or “according to the FIR”? Remember, this is a case where only the FIR was filed and even investigations are still happening, let alone court proceedings. However, Indian Express has no compunctions in passing a judgement and making it look like the truth.
Here is what The True Picture says about the reported murder of Dalit youth’s murder:
“In the present tragic case also, the primary investigation is revealing that there may be another angle to the killing. We, for our part, would not like to arrive at any conclusion as to whether the youth was killed for being a Dalit or otherwise since the investigation is on. However, the question is about “jumping the gun” on the part of the media.”
Isn’t this what a responsible media outlet would say? Is this what the Indian Express is saying? Further, did the Indian Express carry the police’s version of the developments on this murder where they said it was nothing about the horse? A simple search on IE’s site says they did not, despite the fact that, on March 31st, around 9 PM, Bhavnagar SP Pravin Mal is quoted by ANI as saying, “No evidence found in primary investigation that proves he was killed for keeping a horse. There could have been some personal conflicts which may have led to his murder”. Why did IE not run this? Is this not a case of deliberately running a false narrative? Other media houses also reported about the same FIR but qualified their commentary with “alleged”. The exception was Indian Express. And we called out Indian Express.
Coming to the Dalai Lama event story, the Indian Express and many other publications had reported that the Modi Government is ‘discouraging’ government officials from going to the Thank You India event. Some even went far as suggesting that the Government had ‘surrendered’ to China. This narrative set by Indian media found its gleeful way into the welcoming arms of New York Times, which has a long history of running distorted news about India. But what happened later?
A representative of the Modi Government, no less than the Union Culture Minister attended the event. Didn’t this buck all media reporting on this event? Why did this not make the headlines the way a “government note” on participating in these events did? When events turned out differently, fairness would dictate that IE give an equally prominent mention to the strong show of support by the government to the Dalai Lama, but this did not happen, not even on part of the Indian Express.
The other two stories in our piece that Indian Express mentions are on the “10,000 cows given by Smriti Irani in Amethi with the involvement of GNFC” and on prominent journalist Saikat Datta’s attempt to hound a young girl which resulted in him picking out a profile of a different girl. First of all, why did someone who claims to do ‘journalism of courage’ not bust these two stories? Why did The True Picture have to do it? Second, why didn’t IE’s report mention how we actually had busted these two stories?
Overall, it seems that correcting false narratives and fake news is a ‘crime’. If it is a ‘crime’, then we can be accused of such a ‘crime’ multiple times such as:
- We busted propaganda on India’s ‘slip’ in World Hunger Index rankings
- On the Indian Express’s use on the front page of a wrong picture to show Ahmedabad Airport
- On the fake news that was circulated around Yogi Adityanath government’s education budget
- On the busting of false narratives around the Bullet Train project
- On the false narratives alleging Modi Government was apathetic to floods in the Northeast
- On how Khichdi was not designated India’s national dish, many more
Why are big media houses so rattled by an independent website? There seems to be a new caste system in the media, where new operations like The True Picture that call out false narratives and fake news are deemed ‘untouchable’ by the ‘high priests of journalism’ and anybody who plugs our pieces is considered to have committed an act of impurity. It is not difficult to understand where this worldview emanates from. Everyone knows the absolute lack of diversity in the top echelons of the entrenched media that is otherwise busy fighting for ‘social justice’.
It is clear that anyone who pursues the truth will be subjected to smear campaigns. We are not deterred. In this battle between fake news and false narratives on one hand and reporting the True Picture on the other, let there be no doubt who will prevail.