Cobrapost Investigation Reveals Indian Media Houses Willing To Peddle Hindutva, Attack Opposition And Civil Society For Money
Cobrapost announced Part 1 of the story titled 'Operation 136' at a press conference in New Delhi this afternoon
An investigation into the media by news portal Cobrapost has revealed that head-honchos of news organisations, language no bar, were willing to ‘peddle Hindutva’ and conduct orchestrated smear campaigns against BJP’s rivals and those from the party who are not part of the inner coterie.
Cobrapost announced Part 1 of the story titled ‘Operation 136’ at a press conference in New Delhi this afternoon. The number 136 is a reference to India’s rank in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
The journalist is said to have approached over two dozen media organisations with offers ranging between Rs 6 crore and Rs 50 crore. Pushp Sharma of Cobrapost was using the alias ‘Acharya Atal’ and donned an ochre scarf with the report saying he was made to look like a ‘pracharak’. The journalists that are part of the story include those from ‘India TV, Dainik Jagran, Hindi Khabar, SAB TV, DNA (Daily News and Analysis), Amar Ujala, UNI, 9X Tashan, Samachar Plus, HNN 24*7, Punjab Kesari, Swatantra Bharat, ScoopWhoop, Rediff.com, IndiaWatch, Aj and Sadhna Prime News‘.
As part of the story, Sharma reached out to print, electronic and digital organisations with a three-phase plan of how to target viewers with particular messaging related to Hindutva or spirituality. “To our utter shock, most of them not only agreed to do what he asked for but also suggested myriad ways for undertaking a well-orchestrated, overtly communal media campaign on behalf of their prospective big-ticket client,” the story says.
The aforementioned three-phase plan was supposed to “promote Hindutva through customized religious programmes” in the first three months. The second phase included highlighting speeches by hardline Hindutva leaders, followed by targeting opposition leaders with “less than dignified language.”
As part of the final phase, Sharma played some ‘evocative jingles’ targeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi which were “conceptualized and developed by the creative teams of some FM radio stations.”Cobrapost has produced transcripts of the two jingles in their story.
Some of the said organisations also reportedly agreed to target leaders within the BJP itself, to commission stories against the BJP’s local allies and carry advertorials. Aside from apparently agreeing to ‘character assassinate’ Rahul Gandhi, some organisations were also comfortable with attacking notable people from civil society and the legal corridors. Not to mention: “Some of them even agreed to paint agitating farmers as Maoists in their stories.”
The media houses reportedly agreed to run stories which would not even spare the BJP’s own and some alliance partners. The report says media houses also agreed to “rake muck on legal luminaries” like Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaising, link farmer agitations to Maoists and to “paint the judiciary in such colour as would make their judgments controversial or questionable in the eyes of the people.”