Business Std says media, with ‘honourable exceptions’, skipped Satya Pal Malik. We checked

Sensational, yes. But page 1 news? Not quite.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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It’s been four days since the Wire published its explosive interview with former J&K governor Satya Pal Malik – an interview the news portal said could cause “political earthquakes” within the Modi government and the BJP.

Malik waxed eloquent on the government’s “incompetence” during Pulwama and how Modi allegedly told him to keep quiet, on corruption within the PM’s office, and how Modi’s handling of the BBC documentary was a “terrible mistake”.

The opposition was quick to respond to these claims. Even Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement. The Modi government has said nothing at all, except a tweet from IT cell chief Amit Malviya. 

How about the media?

In a scathing editorial this morning, Business Standard said much of India’s “mainstream press, with honourable exceptions, chose to ignore the interview, an indication perhaps of the depth of self-censorship that the media has chosen to impose on itself.”

We took a quick glance at leading newspapers in English to check if this is true. The list is not exhaustive and only includes print editions in some cities.

In Delhi, the Times of India only mentioned the interview on April 16. It was buried on page 23 and was pegged at the Congress party saying Modi must reply to Malik’s claims on Pulwama. Malik had made “sensational charges”, Times of India noted.

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That was it in the Times of India – in Delhi and in print, at least.

In the Hindu in Chennai, the Malik interview was one of the lead stories on page 1 on April 16. The report was on opposition parties targeting Modi. It included reactions from leaders like D Raja, Arvind Kejriwal, Pawan Khare and Jairam Ramesh.

On April 17, the Chennai edition had two reports on page 11. The first contained responses from Kashmir parties like the NC and PDP. Senior NC leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said the BJP government “lynched and murdered democracy”. The second report was Pakistan’s statement that it had been “vindicated” by Malik’s allegations about the Pulwama attack.

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The Indian Express in Delhi reported on the Wire interview on page 1 on April 16, Sunday. A report on page 7 said Malik is “no stranger to controversy” and listed his highs and lows. For instance, in 2020, Malik said governors of Kashmir “largely just drank and played golf”, the report said.

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On April 17, a brief report on page 10 of the Express in Delhi said a “section of farmers and khap leaders from Haryana and Punjab” had “extended support” to Malik over his Pulwama allegations and urged him to “carry on”.

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In its print edition, Hindustan Times in Delhi only covered Malik’s allegations on page 8 on Sunday, April 16. It focused on the Congress party seeking responses from Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh.

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Finally, the Telegraph’s Kolkata edition. Which was, to put it politely, relentless in demanding answers from the Modi government on Malik’s allegations.

Malik was the lead story on page 1 on April 15, given the James Bond-esque title of “The Insider”. “When that Insider sings like a canary,” the Telegraph said, “what should we do?”

On April 16, it carried a page 1 story headlined “PM, why are you ‘chup’ on Malik?”.

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On April 17, page 1 was devoted to Malik’s Pulwama allegations again – a report on unanswered questions on the attack, and another on General Shankar Roychowdhury, India’s former Chief of Army Staff, saying the Pulwama massacre “could have been averted”.

Page 1 also had a photo of Modi shooting with television host Bear Gryllis just as the Pulwama attack occurred.

And page 1 on April 18 had the headline “Nation of questions with no answers”, and demanded that the Modi government speak up on the murder of Atiq Ahmed and his brother, and on Pulwama.

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Among leading Hindi newspapers, Malik’s claims found no mention in the Delhi editions of Amar Ujala, Hindustan, Navbharat Times and Dainik Bhaskar on April 16 and 17. Dainik Jagran reported on the claims on page 2 on April 15. Read about the Hindi coverage here.

As for our TV news brethren, all we can say is that much of mainstream TV news skipped any discussions on the interviews. Surprised? Just check out TV Newsance for all the insanity that passes off as news on TV.

Also see
article image‘The bullet could’ve hit any of us’: Journalists recall Ahmed brothers’ shootout
article imageSatya Pal Malik not above the board, but his charges against Modi govt more serious

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