Barkha Dutt’s old FB post in which she revealed that Radia tapes benefitted NDTV as 400cr!
So since I went public with my earlier battles inside NDTV and called out the hypocrisy of ranting at the Press Club as Anti – Establishment crusaders while desperately seeking help of the BJP ministers and party leaders privately, many of the responses of support have been overwhelming : thank you. Some questions were also raised which I would like to address here along with some points of my own.
1. Why didn’t I speak earlier? Oh But I certainly did- on many emails (my hacked emails capture some of these fights ironically) and via multiple verbal arguments. In fact I spoke so much that by October neither the owners nor the key editors were talking to me any more ! It’s just that while I worked there I did so within the confines of the newsroom as I thought going public was indecorous. Yet, the management told me.that my not batting for them in public in defence of their decision to drop Interviews was a “betrayal.” So is the suggestion that I should have done what a former colleague just did : dissent in public , embarrass the organization, claim the high moral ground and yet conveniently stay on ?! I prefer my route : fight ferociously within and when staying gets untenable because they actively punish you for fighting – you quit. I speak as an ex employee. I am free to do so. Puzzled that my internal argument was a betrayal but a former colleagues public lashing is acceptable! Or is it that the organization is in such a dire place today that it cannot afford to reprimand him in the way it did me ?!
2. The most tired cliched response I’ve heard – when folks can’t come up with anything else is – “But they defended you during Radia tapes controversy”. I have spoken multiple times on that issue -in my book, in interviews, and guess what, even on TV , when I faced a panel of tough questioners for over an hour! Now, did NDTV owners and management subject themselves to a similar one hour grilling by peers from the industry on how they managed their books and on allegations of financial skulduggery – charges way more serious than the ones against me? If not, why not ?. Secondly, while we are on the tapes how many people know that Ms Radia speaks on the tapes of helping NDTV owners – the nearly 400 crores loan came thereafter. The Caravan story on NDTV sought to credit / blame me for this loan when I argued that all I spoke to her about was a news story and I gained nothing more than information. Caravan was wrong: I knew nothing about that loan till much much later when news media reported it. And since I have never held a management position or a financial one ever, even while being a full time employee, I was never going to be made part of any such negotiation. So when we speak of the Radia issue, let’s also examine her role in the financial help she speaks of offering NDTV owners. Haven’t heard much debate on that have we ? I wonder why.
3. Other places are much worse say some:; NDTV tries more than others : SURE. I am adult enough to know that stories are killed in many newsrooms. I am also adult enough to know that in times of existential crisis we would all reach out for help – to govt or to whoever could offer it. The difference is others don’t pretend; they don’t act morally superior and smug and above everyone else. They don’t claim to be something they are not. They don’t stand at Press Club and saw Don’t Crawl while seeking appointments with BJP head honchos by night. This has not been denied by NDTV simply because there are enough witnesses to these meetings and phone calls and they can’t deny them. I am not suggesting any help was offered – the best I know , pleas for help have been soundly rejected. But what’s important is the help was sought while the public pretence carried on.
4. All my life I have lived by what I believe in: sometimes it makes me popular ; sometimes deeply unpopular. So too with this decision. I strongly stand by every word and am open to a no – holds barred debate with any former colleague provided they talk specifics and not in breezy generalisations about legacy and mentoring. many other examples have come to memory since then : how NDTV initially disallowed and dropped the story on National Herald : how it made me edit portions of a Taslima Nasreen interview- the list is endless. And the paranoia with which PC interview was made to vanish – so that even traces of it do not exist on the website today. No lawyers were vetting that one were they ?! So where did it vanish ? And why ? In all these cases no defamation suits we’re involved !
5. Finally for me this is not a right wing or left wing issue. The examples I have detailed involve both the Congress and the BJP and speak to hypocrisy. I am not an activist who is going to cover some things in a shroud of silence because one or the other side could benefit. That is not my concern. I say what I think and what I feel. I would have spoken a lot earlier but when NDTV was raided by the CBI thought my comments would be seen to hit them when they are down. So I was quiet for a bit. But the recent post by a former colleague quoting censorship as an abberation- a knowing falsehood- triggered me to speak my mind. And I am very very glad I did.
By the way – for those caught in the notion of some enforced loyalty- after two decades of work at NDTV – the Owners did not meet me to tell me to my face that I was being punished for being argumentative – maybe they were embarrassed or uncomfortable or didn’t care – that’s their right; they sent their CEO instead to offer me a non daily news role. Even a request by me to buy at market rates my footage from the Kargil war was turned down. So forgive me for being done with this whole notion of loyalty as mouth- silencer. Somewhere along our journey our scores definitely evened out.
I recall two of my peers and friends from the industry had a lot to say when they exited their erstwhile channel a few years ago. So it’s not as if others in the media have not had their say about their experiencences. I fully intend to have mine – without apology or defensiveness and with standing by every syllable. Neither approval nor criticism would steer my mind. Thanks for reading. over and out
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