To get answers, To fix accountability




It is rather perplexing! An interview given to a journalist has kicked up a storm around whether the interview was honest or a plug! Hundreds of thousands have seen the clip over the Youtube, but the truth often isn’t what meets the eye—truth is what suits the eye. Some saw the interview to be fixed, that the questions had been discussed beforehand; others opine that it was a normal chit chat that happens between the anchor and the subject. But no one has been able to resolve the question.

That is why the quagmire! Now a question! If the same interview instead of being with Kejriwal had been with Rajnath Singh, Digvijay Singh, Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Anna hazare, and such a clip had surfaced, would it have resulted in such a tornado? Honestly, the answer would have to be a single word. ‘No’.

Had this interview not been of Kejriwal, no way would it have stirred up the hornet’s nest. Nor would one take the trouble of leaking such a clip. No clip, no chatter, nor would anyone put the interviewer and the interviewee under the microscope. However since it was Kejriwal, it proved an irritant to many, because he has the propensity of talking big, while falling into the pit of the petty. In the latest case he is entrapped by allegations that in electoral politics, he too is willing to wear a false mask like others. Afterall dishonesty it was! He too has begun to tread the path that so many have before him to end up as tricksters.

Obviously, AAP is unhappy with the channels and publications that have carried the clip. In the meanwhile another Kejri clip surfaced where he is captured on camera at a fundraising dinner saying that the entire media is sold out to Modi and once he comes to power, he would send them to jail. Wonder who was paying the media when it was singing ‘Theme Kejriwal’! And during the Anna agitations when the media created a huge jamboree, who had bought it and for how much, Mr.Kejriwal needs to account for it. Kejriwal was the organizer in chief and treasurer, so are we to assume that he was paying the media?

Put aside the masks of Kejriwal presently. Let us return to the interview, after all this issue is far larger than his politics! The question is, can the chitchat on the sidelines of the interview that took place between the anchor host and his guest, be construed as a conversation? Was it not the intent of the anchor to lend mileage to Kejriwal? Was this as a consequence of their closeness? This is where the pitch queers. The answer could be yes or no depending on ones convenience. At least I felt that the exchange was not the ordinary chit chat between guest and host that would not impact the output but clearly one that demonstrates the softness of the anchor.

The issue is big. Especially at a time when the bylanes of journalism are opening out into political highways. This is nothing new. This has been happening for years. Covering the political beat, journalists have donned the political cap. They have even altered their caps to suit their circumstances. Many have donned both caps at once also. The journalist’s trudge is a long one for no cap is gotten overnight. Parties have to be cultivated for years. There is a new breed ! A breed of slavish mindset jourmalists  ! Those who, do not bear the ideology of a party but carry the political pens of certain leaders. There is yet another breed too – those that work both backrooms as well as in the public eye to play with political equations and broker common cause.

The problem is that if what is happening is wrong how does it end? Who will caution and  who is to stop them? Who will play the moral watchdog? With a proliferating media, with huge investments at stake, and up in the market cauldron, the intent of investors, is there a mechanism in place that can prevent the media from slipping up? Or for journalists to become pawns at the hands of vested interests? In the last three or four decades or perhaps from even before, as the veil of propriety been lifted gradually and new journalistic propensities revealed, to be white washed with seductive excuses, this ugly outcome was inevitable.

Today we need a discourse on why an independent governing body – strong, non governmental but with legal sanctity,  should not be set up. So that answers are given and answerability is fixed, the market- media relations are properly defined, that  both conduct and content have have calibrated guidelines and so on. After all the politician can only attack the media if the media has a soft underbelly.

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