Beyond one-sided ‘truths’

Salman Khurshid, like any other accused, has the right to present his side of the story

It is déjà vu with just a change in the cast of characters. I am aware that writing about issues that may be sub judice is not done, but this is an extraordinary situation. The Union law minister is in the dock and I, an accused in a case of corruption through the machinations of his party, need to speak out despite being opposed to said ruling party. I am not pleading my case, but merely pointing out how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. I am also questioning those in the media who don political roles because politicians have failed to do so effectively. What is lost in the melee is the truth, which the media is duty bound to investigate fairly and objectively, without hyperbole or mischief.

Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise's defence against Arvind Kejriwal and India Today's accusations before an unsparing and highly biased media brought back memories of the media attack on George Fernandes and this writer after the Tehelka journalists' so-called expose of corruption in defence deals in 2001. Press conferences are for asking sharp questions, but they must also allow persons calling them an opportunity to lay out whatever facts they have to explain themselves. Instead, journalists have become politicians performing before their constituents and the cameras. At the press conference on October 14, the "poor of the nation" were invoked, diversionary accusations were hurled, the hapless Khurshid was interrupted as if in Parliament and a collective buzz of impatience rent the air whenever documents were presented to tell the Khurshid side of the story.

The technique in television studios of just creating a rumble to mock the person in the hot seat, rather than allowing the public to hear a full answer and judge for themselves, makes the media look like petty bullies. This technique is now being applied to press conferences. It was clear at the Khurshid press conference that the media had no intention of allowing the truth to come out.

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