It is not new for sections of India’s news traders to come up with shocking absurdities every now and then. However, this time around a leading daily known for its ideological inclinations, Hindustan Times, has set new benchmarks in shoddy reporting and bizarre journalism.
Recently, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had faced angry reactions on Twitter over the Tanvi Seth passport case. Following this, Sushma Swaraj liked and retweeted some of those tweets so that everyone could see who those people were. The leftist-liberal cartel saw an opportunity and started blaming the entire BJP and its support base for the unfortunate turn of events. The left leaning news traders are used to following the strategy of blaming the entire BJP support base for the mistakes of a few alleged BJP supporters. However, it seems that Hindustan Times has taken this pathetic attitude to just another level. When the mainstream media outlets were covering the Sushma Swaraj episode with full force, the leading daily arbitrarily classified Manak Gupta, a well known journalist as a troll.
I was out of India from 17th to 23rd June 2018. I do not know what happened in my absence. However, I am honoured with some tweets. I am sharing them with you. So I have liked them.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 24, 2018
Manak Gupta was left aghast at this barb by the Hindustan Times. He expressed shock over Hindustan Times’ callous attitude and announced on Twitter itself that he would drag Hindustan Times to court. Manak Gupta made it clear that none of his tweets featured in Sushma Swaraj’s ‘liked” tweets. At this time, Pratik Sinha, co-founder of a fringe and little known online portal, AltNews came out defending Hindustan Times over the daily’s bizarre attitude and sent across one of Gupta’s tweets which had been liked by Swaraj. However, leave alone the question of being abusive, there was nothing offensive or objectionable in Gupta’s tweet. It merely questioned how rules can be bent for an individual. Even Pratik Sinha agreed to this, but endorsed the bizarre logic given by Hindustan Times and claimed that anyone whose tweet has been liked or retweeted by Sushma Swaraj should be classified as a troll they way Manak Gupta was.
Did you just call me a ‘troll’ @htTweets !!!!! I shall see you in court. Just checked the list of @SushmaSwaraj’s “Liked” tweets. None of my tweets are there. Now you wait for it https://t.co/DXMjTYplcN
— Manak Gupta (@manakgupta) June 26, 2018
This argument that Swaraj had curated a list of trolls herself, and that whatever she retweets or likes on twitter by itself becomes abusive content, is such a pathetic argument that even demolishing it seems futile. Swaraj had retweeted some abusive tweets, but she never said that she won’t be retweeting or liking any ‘normal’ tweets. One has to apply his mind and see whether the given tweet contains any objectionable content or not. It is a foolish criteria that Hindustan Times has employed. Even Sushma Swaraj would have expected that common sense would be employed in understanding how she had been targeted in an ugly way. It did not mean that media outlets have absolute liberty in labelling anyone as a troll. To classify anyone as a troll, just because the External Affairs minister liked or retweeted him, is not journalism but undue harassment.
In today’s time we do not expect mainstream media outlets to be unprejudiced or impartial. It is public knowledge that most of them including the Hindustan Times have sharp left-inclining ideologies. Even concoctions and misleading representation of daily events have become so common that they are seen to be acceptable. However, news traders should not become mere instruments for harassing individual citizens. Just because people have seen through their lies and have stopped paying attention towards them, does not make them all powerful to arbitrarily judge the character of a reputed individual. One hopes that Hindustan Times is dragged to court for this shockingly offensive reporting and an example is set against shoddy journalism.