Vantage point

Friday, January 30, 2009

What does NDTV's Silence Mean?

It is now almost four days since Chetan Kunte posted his unconditional apology. It is now over two days since bloggers and tweeters took note of this. Here is my latest question - why is NDTV silent on this? Why is the mainstream media silent on this? The closest thing to non-personal-blog presence for this story so far is the CounterCurrents piece. And well, it is a self-described "indy media" site.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that what Kunte wrote was indeed libelous, and something that required strong action. If so, why is NDTV mum on it after all this while? The story has certainly spread in the Indian blogosphere like wildfire. NDTV and/or Barkha Dutt should have, by now come out with at least a statement on this whole issue to present their side of the story. If they are convinced they have done nothing wrong, why not come out and proclaim their innocence? And why the silence from others like CNN-IBN, TimesNow, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Mint and so on? Why is this not a story?(If I am wrong and this matter has indeed made its way to the mainstream media, please let me know).

When someone re-posted Kunte's post on facebook a few weeks ago, Barkha Dutt promptly and fierily responded thus -

you may want to know that the author of this email- a certain Mr. Kunte who lives in Holland.. has been sent a legal notice by NDTV for the rubbish and lies peddled in this email.

Best Regards

Barkha Dutt.


Mr Saini,

Just because some random bloke can sit at a computer and make up stuff doesnt mean he or others like him need to be dignified with responding to their utter and total rubbish. rubbish is what it is. And as already mentioned. Mr. Kunte has been served a legal notice for libel by NDTV. That should give you some indication of where we and I stand. The freedom afforded by the Interent cannot be used to fling allegations at individuals or groups in the hope that they will then respond to things that arent worthy of engagement.

If you have any remaining questions my column on media coverage is available online.
Happy New Year.

And yet, no response on the viral outbreak of reactions to Kunte's apology? Why? Does the answer perhaps lie in what Barkha Dutt said above? Everyone who has weighed in on the issue so far are "random blokes" writing "utter and total rubbish" who "aren't worthy of engagement" and need not be dignified with a response?

Whatever the reason, I wonder if NDTV and the mainstream media as a whole will just bury their heads in sand, and hope everyone moves on? Or will we see some sort of a response?

I hope at least foreign correspondents in India take note of the story. Like Mark Magnier of the LA Times who had a piece on the central issue here - how the media conducted itself during the 26/11 attacks. Two things that stood out in the article -

a) Barkha Dutt is referred to as India's Christiane Amanpour? Really? By whom? The only place I found her referred to directly as such was Shobhaa De's blog. Heh.... the defense rests. A more accurate description - India's Geraldo Rivera.

b) Look at this utterly condescending and bizarrely rationalizing comment from Barkha Dutt - She contends that Indians have been badly shaken by the violence and do not know how to process it, venting their anger first on politicians, then bureaucrats and now the news media.

Oh, so we all need a shrink then? The media did nothing wrong. It's just that our fragile minds are too shaken so we are blaming three people who are not at fault in this issue at all - politicians, bureaucrats and the news media.

Anyway, I digress. I hope to see some mention of this whole brouhaha in the mainstream media soon, no matter what spin is put on it. If not the Indian media, then at least foreign media.