After subjecting its viewers to incompetent reporting during the Kashmir floods and mawkish coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, NDTV finally got an interview worth going to town with. Unfortunately, they have had to pull the story down from their website. We have a statement from Editorial Director of NDTV, Sonia Singh, on the reason, but first the background.
The story in question is a particularly explosive interview that Nitin Gokhale, NDTV’s Security and Strategic Affairs Editor, conducted with former Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi in which he launched a scathing attack on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime and on the media for misreporting.
An excerpt of the interview in which the ex-naval chief slams the UPA is still up on NDTV’s website as a segment in Group Editor Barkha Dutt’s show, The Buck Stops Here.
However, subsequent parts in which he indicts the media for trashy reporting have been removed from the channel’s website along with the complete interview altogether.
This was the first interview the former naval chief gave to a media house after resigning in February 2014, owning “moral responsibility” following a fire incident aboard INS Sindhurakshak. In the beginning of the interview, Admiral Joshi, in a severe comment on the MoD under the UPA, stated that he was “amused” at the haste with which his resignation was accepted. He said his immediate reason for quitting was the dysfunctional and inefficient model with which the armed forces have been burdened. Urging for reforms in higher defence management, he also stated that authority must rest with those who are accountable, that is men in the service and not the ministry.
This part of the interview was excerpted and aired first on the prime-time show The Buck Stops Here under a segment titled – “Accountability minus authority: Ex-Navy Chief’s explosive disclosures”. But the complete interview with more telling remarks on the media was carried a day later on October 15, and it got Twitter talking when the complete transcript along with the video of the interview was uploaded on Thursday morning.
Without mincing any words, Admiral Joshi stated that the media gave into sensationalism while reporting on issues, including the Sindhurakshak mishap. As examples he talked about a newspaper that “invented the coup theory” and followed it by saying “…this reporter was darling of the foreign vendors, and to show his importance he would author articles like the reporter is in country abc at the invitation of xyz”.
He spoke in detail of other papers that misreport and so-called defence correspondents who lack basic knowledge and pretty much pass off blatant lies as news reports. Within a day of the Admiral’s statements making waves on social media, NDTV removed the complete interview from its website. This, of course, only got more people talking about the interview and why the channel would remove it.
Meanwhile, when asked on Twitter about the interview being taken down, Dutt seemed ignorant about it being removed and pointed to her show that focused on the admiral’s criticism of UPA.
We tried getting in touch with Nitin Gokhale to know if there were any specific reasons for removing the interview. He asked us to check with Editorial Director Sonia Singh and Barkha Dutt.
We then sent an email to Singh asking her if there was any specific reason for taking down the interview and whether Admiral Joshi’s severe criticism of certain journalists had anything to do with the channel removing the interview – considering that one of the bylines on the “coup” story was that of journalist Shekhar Gupta who is all set to start a new season of Walk The Talk on NDTV. Singh without going into much detail replied: “We received a complaint regarding potential defamatory content in the interview, which is why it has been taken down. Our legal department is having a look and we will take a call after that.”
Considering Dutt’s show, that focused on the UPA-bashing part of the interview, is still very much there on the website, it is fair to assume the complaint for defamatory content could not have come from anyone in the UPA. And since the rest of the interview has Admiral Joshi mostly raging against journalists, it is possible and probable the complaint has come from one of the media people he has accused of careless reporting.
Meanwhile, we will keep you updated on what NDTV’s legal team decides to do with the interview — take it down forever or put it back up on the website. And for those of you who missed the interview, fret not. The Admiral’s interview has popped up on YouTube and you can watch it here. Thank you, ‘appy (@janonymous14) for alerting us.