This time the target is veteran journalist Sucheta Dalal.
The Hindu nationalist news website OpIndia has been caught publishing fake news – again. This time the “news” was about veteran journalist Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of the news website Moneylife.
OpIndia reported that Ujjwal Krishnam – who goes by ‘Archive of Cringetopia’ on Twitter and Instagram and was a key character in the Wire-Meta scandal – had accused Dalal of derailing a Me Too investigation. Dalal rejected the allegation and pointed out the error in OpIndia’s reporting. The editor of OpIndia, Nupur Sharma, apologised for the error but didn’t remove the article.
OpIndia has run misleading and even false pieces on more than one occasion, often without seeking comment from the subject of the story. The website is openly and often loudly partisan, aligned with the Hindutva establishment – and this is clearly reflected in the content it produces.
The article about Dalal was published on November 4. The basis was a series of tweets by Krishnam, alleging that Dalal had tried to block a Me Too investigation. In 2019, Krishnam had emailed Dalal demanding to know if there were any Me Too complaints at Moneylife.
“I am doing this investigation for a foreign magazine,” Krishnam had claimed in the email, which asked for the information to be sent by September 15, 2019.
He followed up with another email the day before the deadline. “We waited for your response,” he said. “However, we have not received any communication from your end.”
“It’s disturbing to note that you did not support us in the pursuit of fair and principled journalism,” Krishnam continued in the email. “If any complicity of institutional complicity is derived from your non-cooperation, publisher would not be responsible for it.”
Dalal replied not long after.
Interestingly, a few months earlier, Krishnam had emailed Dalal pitching a story idea and inquiring if there was a job for him at Moneylife.
On November 4, Krishnam shared his email to Dalal on Twitter, prompting OpIndia to report on it. The website however falsely claimed Dalal had been accused of derailing the investigation into Me Too allegations against the late Vinod Dua, a veteran journalist who worked at the Wire.
The news website however did couch its allegations. “OpIndia got access to the documents via a public link of a Proton drive shared by Cringearchivist on Twitter. We neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of these documents,” the said. “At the moment, we cannot independently confirm if the information provided in the documents is real.”
Dalal quickly pointed out that she had never worked with or even met Dua. Krishnam too tweeted that OpIndia was mistaken.
OpIndia subsequently removed Dua's name from its headline. When the news website received flak for the mistake, Sharma, the editor, apologised. “It was a mistake to not reach out to Sucheta Dalal for her comment. The article has been updated with what she has tweeted. It was an error and I personally apologise for it."
Dalal told Newslaundry, “The news was published without knowing the other side. This goes against the principles of journalism. Vinod Dua's name was taken in this story, even though I do not even know him. The person whose tweet has been shown had sent us a mail regarding the issue of Me Too. He also asked us for a job. Then he threatened that if we did not respond, he would print against us. This does not happen in journalism. You can’t threaten that if somebody doesn’t reply you will print against them."
She added, “I run Moneylife which is based in Mumbai. And I live here too. Don't know how the Wire and Vinod Dua got into this. I haven’t had any dealings with even the Wire."
Asked about the apology by OpIndia, Dalal said, “Apologising does nothing. When news is fake then OpIndia should remove the news.”
Newslaundry sent a series of questions about the misleading report to OpIndia chief editor Sharma. She chose to respond with an article, in which she alleged that Newslaundry writes against OpIndia to generate traffic. The editor might want to introspect: search for ‘Newslaundry’ on OpIndia and you get over 50 articles. Enough said.
This report was originally published on Newslaundry Hindi. Translated from Hindi by Shardool Katyayan.
Update at 10.20 am, Nov 23: After this report was published, Krishnam posted a series of tweets.