In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, an English news channel named Harvest TV was launched with senior Congress leader, Kapil Sibal as one of its promoters. Later, Harvest TV was renamed as Tiranga TV, after the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) allowed Sibal’s channel to use the new name and logo without the colours, saffron and green. The channel boasted of some erstwhile big names including Barkha Dutt and Karan Thapar.
When the news of the mass layoff of employees at the Tiranga TV first came to light, many people on social media questioned Barkha Dutt for her silence on the issue. At that time, Barkha Dutt had tersely replied that she was not involved in the management of the company. However, today Barkha Dutt broke her silence and took on Kapil Sibal and his wife for the mass layoffs in a long Twitter thread.
An appalling situation in @NewsHtn promoted by @KapilSibal & his wife, where more than 200 employees have had equipment confiscated and face sackings without even a 6 month pay out. Man who acts holier than though in public has treated journalists in a hideous way
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
Dutt’s two and a half-decade career has met with controversy, glory, fame, criticism and publicity. So far there has been a very clear ideological divide between the supporters of Barkha Dutt and her critics. She openly took a leftist ideological position in the public sphere and peddled twisted narratives to demean and defame the right-wing.
Barkha is known for inadvertently giving away crucial information to Pakistan on how India was planning to attack Tiger Hill during the Kargil War. Not only that, Barkha Dutt and her colleagues across the media were slammed for unethical reporting during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. She was also criticised for her biased coverage on 2002 Gujarat riots. She is also well known for peddling anti-India narratives on Kashmir and basically made her career by peddling anti-Modi agenda post 2002.
Barkha Dutt also created controversy when she chose to romanticize slain Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani by calling him “son of school headmaster”. She was even lauded by global terrorist Hafiz Saeed for doing ‘good work in Kashmir’.
Barkha Dutt started her career with NDTV. Her family is deeply entrenched in Lutyen’s Delhi like other prominent figures associated with the leftist media house. She was educated from St. Stephen’s College with a degree in English literature and did her Master’s in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia’s Mass Communication Research Centre.
In the 21 years career with NDTV, she hosted the daily prime-time show The Buck Stops Here and talk-show We The People. She became a role model for the left-liberal journalistic community and was actively supported by the UPA government. Barkha Dutt along with Rajdeep Sardesai and Vinod Dua was awarded Padma Shri by the Congress UPA government in 2008. Interestingly, these three journalists are well-known supporters of Congress party and well-established members of Lutyen’s gang. Her family and relatives were in top managerial positions in PSUs and bureaucracy since independence. Barkha Dutt openly took a pro-Congress line despite the fact that as a journalist and a moderator she was expected to be neutral.
It is in public knowledge that Barkha Dutt is close to Congress party leadership and her name had also appeared in the Radia Tapes controversy. “Dutt’s role in the Radia Tapes did not seem to point to an individual act but an institutional malaise,” said Hartosh Singh Bal, the then editor of Open Magazine which brought the tapes in public.
But once the Congress government was ousted from power after 2014, her association with NDTV management started deteriorating. She was close to Congress and bad electoral performance of the party did not go well with the career of Barkha Dutt.
In 2016, she changed her role at NDTV to Consulting Editor. She collaborated with veteran journalist and former editor in chief of Indian Express to launch web-based portal ThePrint. However, her association with Shekhar Gupta did not go very well as initially she was listed as co-founder on the website then later her name was removed. Later she was again listed as co-founder and was removed again. When finally the ThePrint was launched she hosted a show named NewskaJuice which was later shut down after a few episodes.
In 2017, she permanently resigned from NDTV and later joined Washington Post as contributing columnist in January 2017. “Delighted to be a Contributing Columnist for @WashingtonPost .Look forward to working with the very Best,” tweeted Dutt.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) January 9, 2017
In July 2017, she had a Twitter spat with former colleague Nidhi Razdan over ‘MoJo’. “Ndtv finance woes apart isn’t it wrong to appropriate someone’s brand name & new form of journalism as yours ? Thoughts in this thread,” she tweeted in a series on Tweets. On this Razdan replied, “’Mojo’ widely used term for Mobile Journalism world over for some years, NDTV India launched show called ‘Mojo’ on Dec 19, 2016.”
'Mojo' widely used term for Mobile Journalism world over for some years, NDTV India launched show called 'Mojo' on Dec 19, 2016 https://t.co/hdP9VjnRXw
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) July 25, 2017
After her association with ThePrint failed to take off, she joined Kapil Sibal’s Tiranga TV. After the fallout of Kapil Sibal, her association with Congress party and the left-liberal cabal is expected to decimate. Given the fact, right-wing media has very well stated for Barkha Dutt and her ideological positions, she will not get a place there.
So, now the only thing Barkha Dutt is left with is Contributing Editor with Washington Post. In her two and a half decade long career, Dutt must have never been so alone. A journalist who was an idol for the people looking for a career in the media industry when the Congress party was in power is now left with no permanent job after five years.