On Saturday, the Hindustan Times, which is among the most-read and well-known newspapers of India decided to become judge, jury and executioner. So, the publication decided to call the Bharatiya Janata Party an organisation of goons. The publication had tweeted, “In a dramatic sequence of events on Friday, #BJPGundoKiParty leader Tajinder Singh Bagga was arrested by the Punjab Police and brought back to Delhi within hours.” Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga was manhandled and allegedly kidnapped by Punjab Police, and yet, Hindustan Times found it fit to categorise the BJP as a party of hooligans.
The tweet spread like wildfire on social media, and popular Twitter users took severe offense to the kind of language used by the leading news publication. Kanchan Gupta, senior journalist and Senior Adviser, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, GOI said, “Seriously? This hashtag passed editorial scrutiny? Or is it reflective of HT’s considered editorial policy? Or, part of a deal the paper may have entered into for Delhi Government ads, perhaps?”
Seriously @HT_Ed @htTweets ? This hashtag passed editorial scrutiny? Or is it reflective of HT’s considered editorial policy? Or, part of a deal the paper may have entered into for Delhi Government ads, perhaps? pic.twitter.com/SC7rLRXTCm
— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) May 7, 2022
If mainstream news portals like @htTweets goes this way, then we will have to change the definition of what mainstream is.@PIB_India @ianuragthakur pic.twitter.com/NhUPKd7nA3
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) May 7, 2022
What hashtag would @htTweets use for AAP, I wonder. WDTT https://t.co/asw1nP1rZi pic.twitter.com/4sIq3dbiBO
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) May 7, 2022
Aapiya handler of @httweets forgot to change handle and ended up tweeting from @htTweets instead – tweet stands deleted. CC @ianuragthakur Ji.
First tweet of this hashtag after a year was of 2 days ago and was by Vadodara branch of AAP pic.twitter.com/fQbXnSK6Gh
— Alok Bhatt (@alok_bhatt) May 7, 2022
Hindustan Times ‘Regrets’ Its Error
After the tweet by Hindustan Times gave rise to a storm of backlash on social media, the publication deleted the tweet and put out a statement saying, “An autopull feature on Tweetdeck used a mischievous hashtag for the BJP and the tweet was published before this could be manually checked and corrected. We sincerely regret the error.”
It added, “We are reviewing our social media publishing processes and putting in place measures to ensure this does not happen again.”
We are reviewing our social media publishing processes and putting in place measures to ensure this does not happen again.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) May 7, 2022
Guess what is missing from the Hindustan Times’ statement? An apology. Remember, the publication merely ‘regrets’ putting out a defamatory tweet. However, it does not feel sorry for doing so, which is why the word ‘apologise’ is missing from its statement.
There are other glaring problems in the statement as well. The Hindustan Times wants you to believe that its employees had nothing to do with the tweet, and that the error had been made by Twitter’s “auto-pull feature”. It is rather hilarious on the part of the Hindustan Times to take everyone for a fool. The auto-pull feature, HT wants you to believe, meticulously placed the controversial AAP-sponsored hashtag in the middle of a sentence, leading the line to make complete sense.
That is not how the auto-pull feature works. At best, the feature can place hashtags either at the beginning or end of tweets, and not replace ‘BJP’ with ‘#BJPGundoKiParty’.
What is HT Hiding?
In all likelihood, the tweet was put out by an employee of the Hindustan Times, who certainly does not view the BJP from an unbiased and impartial standpoint. The question which now arises is this: Why is Hindustan Times shielding the person who put out such a distasteful tweet? Why is Hindustan Times not owning up to its mistake, and taking action against the person(s) involved in the entire fiasco? Why are such employees being shielded by the publication?
Is it because the organisation agrees with the said employee(s)? Does the Hindustan Times really think the BJP is a party of goons? Why else would the publication shy away from owning up to its mistake and setting an example that will prevent such ‘errors’ from occurring in the future?
The Left-Liberal Ecosystem
The HT fiasco best describes the pervasive nature of India’s left-liberal ecosystem. Media houses demand that only people with a ‘liberal’ ideology be employed, which creates a market for such job seekers. The hiring team is itself composed of liberals, following the orders of liberal bosses. The applicants are liberals. Where do these applicants gain their beliefs from? From their colleges. In colleges, their teachers are liberals. Why are the teachers liberals? Because they consume liberal media and are sympathetic to the leftist ideology. Therefore, a constant stream of demand and supply is maintained, and every now and then, and errors such as the one that HT made, reveals the nefarious agenda of media houses.
A Sneak-Peak into HT
The fiasco has provided the public with a sneak-peak into what goes on in publications like the Hindustan Times, and others as well. The person who put out the tweet must have been hired by HT for some specific reasons. If these reasons were political and ideological in nature, that tells you how those who employed the man/woman in question shared his/her beliefs, and thought that the incoming employee could be an asset for the team.
Read more: Is this an Indian newspaper or a Chinese mouthpiece? Dear Hindustan Times, mind explaining
That begs the question, as an organisation, does the Hindustan Times despise the BJP? Personal beliefs aside, how can a mainstream media organisation have a specific ideology that every now and then mistakenly slips out into the public domain?
If the Hindustan Times does indeed have an ideology, it should reveal it. In 2022, and in a democratic country like India, there is no necessity for a media organisation to pretend to be neutral, objective and unbiased when it is not. If the Hindustan Times does not like the BJP, it should come clear on its beliefs and settle the matter for once and for all. Otherwise, it will keep regretting such errors for years to come.
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