Faking it: It shouldn’t happen during elections with an ‘l’
Phew! I’m no longer feeling like a Louis Vuitton knock-off. Thank you, Modiji, for promptly revoking the I & B mantri’s diktat against journos dispensing ‘fake’ news. The I-rani had ordered ‘Cut off their accreditation’ which, in our case, is a fate worse than decapitation. This vital badge of honour chopped off, ballsy media would no longer be able to do penetrative stories. Thank goodness, senior media members rose to the occasion, and denounced this bare-faced attack on Press freedom.
Ostensibly, the order was meant to uphold professional integrity. The legit and the licit had nothing to fear; it was even okay to covet thy neighbour’s scoop. The now-axed axe was to have fallen on anyone found to have ‘created and/or propagated fake news’ – an ostensibly desirable move in this age of promiscuous disinformation. BUT, the sarkar had pre-decided both definition and punishment, thus ensuring that, in the next critical months, news bad for the ruling party was no news. Let’s call it ‘Shove In The Time of Elections’.
Ms Irani has the knack of acting ‘more loyal than the king’, but her astute Boss quickly sensed that this weapon of mass-media destruction would backfire. If he hadn’t aborted the Smriti Offensive, it would have been one more triumph for that Trumped-up charge. ‘Fake News’ was anointed the Collins Dictionary’s ‘2017 Word of the Year’ ; its use grew by a whopping 365% in as many days.
But why concede this invention to America? As in rocket science and rhinoplasty, India had already been there, done that. Every party has had journos ready to spread its lies for fear or favours. Indeed, in politics, ‘fake’ was never a four-letter word. Hasn’t it happily co-habited with encounters, apologies, tears, and, uhmm, educational certificates. The entry of spurious news has upped the game because it can bestow authenticity on the rest. But, though all parties have their media laptopdogs, more powerful phekus attract a bigger army of news-benders, aka embedded journalists. Here, too, size matters. More so during an election.
Alec Smart said: “Hope our CWG contingent isn’t facing the needle of suspicion needlessly.”