Liars, Inc?

What was I saying just earlier today about the Somnath Temple and rabbitholes? Now, this:

Malviya, who heads the IT Cell of the ruling BJP, posted this at 3.44. In less than an hour the TV channel Republic, which sets itself up as the nation’s conscience, showcased this in a lengthy ‘story‘. Less than an hour from that point, the channel’s star anchor Arnab Goswami had taken the story further, and posed ‘five questions‘ to Congress VP Rahul Gandhi. The Republic, again, tweeted out that the BJP had posted ‘proof’, and was demanding an answer. All this, and the evening is just beginning; I haven’t even poured out my first beer yet. It’s — *sigh* — going to be a long night.

Some things should strike you immediately about that Malviya post: 1. There is nothing there to show what page this is, let alone identify it as a Somnath Temple guest register. 2. Who in the fuck signs himself in as ‘Rahul Gandhiji’, with the honorific appended at the end? 3. Who signs himself in as ‘Armed Police’, male, with just a ‘11′ where the date is supposed to be put? 4. Why is the handwriting of ‘Rahul Gandhi-ji’ and Mr ‘Armed Police’ similar? (CORRECTION: I just saw a clearer copy of this document. The second signatory is Ahmed Patel, not ‘armed police’ as I previously wrote. My apologies for the error).

The Congress responded with this (and the comments below the NDTV tweet are equally illuminating (one gent points out that there is no date here, and therefore it is fake — a point that appears not to affect the presumed veracity of the BJP post):

Who do we believe? Take the originator of this story, Amit Malviya. That would be the gent who recently posted a collage of Nehru-as-womaniser? Who faked a picture of Rahul Gandhi supposedly visiting convicted rapist Ram Rahim’s Dera Sacha Sauda, only for it to turn out that it was Amit Shah who had gone to the then rape-accused to ask for votes and support? Who claimed that Rahul Gandhi had said potatoes could turn into gold? Who claimed that Ravish Kumar’s sister has been suspended for corruption charges? Who cleverly edited a video of Ravish Kumar to ‘prove‘ the anchor had political affiliations? Who justified the use of fake pictures to portray a supposed riot in Bengal by claiming the pictures were used for ‘representational purposes‘? The ‘head’ of an IT Cell whose Karnataka branch passed off a potholed road in BJP-run Mumbai as a road in Congress-run Karnataka? Malviya the ‘information’ head of this party? The party whose leaders did their best to start a fire in Bengal by using a still from a movie showing a girl being molested? A party whose head, Amit Shah, recently warned young people to be wary of fake news on social media, but ignores the fact that his party is responsible for a bulk of it? A party whose penchant for lies has directly resulted in several conflagrations around the country?

If Amit Malviya told you today was Wednesday the 20th of November, you would need to double and triple check with multiple sources.

Then there is Republic TV, which repeatedly reminds everyone that it is the most watched TV channel. Okay, news channel. Oh ok, English news channel then. So yeah, this widely watched channel has a history:

Exhibit A: Jama Masjid electricity bills; Exhibit B: The terrorists ‘exclusive‘; Exhibit C: Arundhati Roy and Kashmir; Exhibit D, oh never mind, here, AltNews has an extensive round-up.

Any of these instances would in a decently run news organization be a firing offense. But we are talking of — only of — ‘decently run’ news organizations.

BTW, Arnab has a long history of faking his ‘exclusives’. Here is a personal story. Back in 2013, the conflict of interest controversy had blown up around the IPL, and Sharad Pawar was doing a holier than thou act, castigating N Srinivasan for his many sins. At the time, I published on this blog a letter Pawar wrote to Srini, saying — falsely — that there was nothing in the BCCI constitution to prevent Srini from owning an IPL franchise.

Arnab, then leading TimesNow, discovered this a couple of days later. And on the third morning, I got a call from his office, asking if I had the actual letter itself. A somewhat odd question — how could I possibly have the original? I told the caller that I had a facsimile version, which I had authenticated through three different sources. The TimesNow staffer asked if I could fax the copy over to him. I did.

Half an hour later, I was startled to see, on TimesNow, a ‘news story’ with the ‘Exclusive’ tag. The story, with a self-congratulatory chyron running under it, said the channel had ‘exclusively’ accessed an ‘explosive’ letter from then BCCI president Sharad Pawar et cetera et cetera.

One piece of advice: If either of these gentlemen ever offers to sell you a bridge, cheap, hide your cheque-book and run far, far away.