BJP’s massive victory in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh elections, among other things, reaffirmed the fact that the Indian media is unaware of the ground reality.
Ever since the BJP’s defeat in Bihar, the dominant media narrative was that the Modi wave was finished for all practical purposes. The media had left no stone unturned to “prove” that demonetisation was a failure. They churned out hysterical “deaths due to demonetisation” articles at regular intervals. Huffington Post led the charge against demonetisation.
In the run-up to the UP polls, journalists like Rohini Singh and Vasudha Venugopal- both working for the Economic Times, had turned into propagandists of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance. The media had also predicted an AAP victory in Punjab.
But what was the reality?
BJP’s performance in Uttar Pradesh was unprecedented. The alliance was a distant second. Since then, the media has waxed eloquent over Modi wave; which was supposedly over after BJP’s drubbing in Bihar. BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh testifies that the people have voted in favour of Modi and his various governance steps, demonetisation being prominent among them. AAP was limited to 20 seats in Punjab, far behind the Congress’s tally of 77 seats.
This behaviour of the mainstream Liberal media is not peculiar to India. It is a feature of Liberal media around the world.
The American mainstream media had overwhelmingly predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in the Presidential elections. They had enthusiastically campaigned for Clinton and published several hit jobs against Donald Trump. But despite the vituperative media campaign and against all odds, Trump emerged victorious on November 8, 2016. Since then, Trump has understandably gone after “Fake News” CNN.
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
This quote- misattributed to Abraham Lincoln describes the state of mainstream media succinctly. “Independent media” is a myth, an illusion. It has always been. The reality is that the media has always tried to peddle its opinions as facts. But agenda driven journalism cannot always stand the test of time. It is therefore not a surprise that trust in media has fallen around the globe and is at an all-time low in 17 of the 28 countries polled, India being one of them.
The narratives of Church attacks, rising intolerance against Muslims and Dalits are nothing but the latest examples of agenda driven journalism. Old Media had enjoyed a monopoly over narratives and still continues to exert its influence on the population at large. But social media has steadily emerged as a reasonable alternative to mainstream media and has challenged the monopoly or stranglehold Old Media had over “truth”. Outlets like OpIndia can claim credit for bursting several lies propagated by the Old Media.
This has predictably led to an eruption of frustration among journalists and they have called for online censorship laws against “social media trolls” on several occasions. The same cabal is quite happy to preach about freedom of speech on odd days, as it campaigns for online censorship on even days.