A little over a year ago, on May 7th, 2017 there was high excitement in television newsrooms. Former AAP minister Kapil Mishra had alleged that he saw Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal accepting Rs 2 crores from Satyendra Jain. What followed was a no-holds-barred contest between the news channels to launch an attack on Kejriwal and AAP. A corruption charge on a self-proclaimed anti-corruption crusader saw non-stop media coverage and endless debates with screaming anchors baying for blood. One year later, it has now been reported by Times of India that “CBI had conducted an inquiry against Kejriwal based on a complaint but found no merit in it and so didn’t launch a formal probe. On the basis of CBI’s inquiry, the lokayukta too closed the case.” Other reports suggest that the Delhi Lokayukta has dropped Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s name but have not yet closed the case and CBI has said that it had never initiated any preliminary enquiry in the case. Alt News brings you an analysis of TV media coverage of the two events – the ‘allegation’ and the subsequent ‘clean chit’ by the CBI.
Coverage of the “allegations”
Republic TV which was launched on May 6th was only one day old when Kapil Mishra made these allegations against Arvind Kejriwal. It was difficult for Arnab Goswami to control his excitement at this godsend opportunity for bashing Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. The channel promoted hashtags like #IsKejriCorrupt and #ArvindGate on the basis of the allegations. They wanted Kejriwal to resign and even ran a poll on it.
— Republic (@republic) May 7, 2017
Shouldn't Arvind Kejriwal resign after corruption allegations? #IsKejriCorrupt
— Republic (@republic) May 7, 2017
Hilariously, Republic TV crew kept busy in “tracking” and tweeting the movements of Arvind Kejriwal.
Republic TV crew tracking Arvind Kejriwal live right now, as he makes his way to an event #Arvindgate
— Republic (@republic) May 8, 2017
Times Now’s coverage of the allegations ran on a similar pattern as Republic TV. AAP and Kejriwal are the channel’s favorite punching bags and it ran hashtags like #आप_के_टुकडे, #AAPKaSach, #AAPKaGhotala, #KejriKaKalaSach and #KejriwalKiSafai
In the “Biggest Allegation Ever”, the nation wanted to know if Kejriwal had taken a bribe.
Like RepublicTV, Times Now also wanted to know “Will Kejriwal resign now?”
Kapil Mishra’s allegations got extensive coverage on India Today as well. Though the coverage was not as cacophonic as Republic and Times Now, the channel ran a poll asking people whether they believed the charges.
Do you believe there is any truth in charges levelled by Kapil Mishra against Kejriwal?
— India Today (@IndiaToday) May 8, 2017
On May 7th alone, the channel tweeted 18 times on the issue. According to India Today, it was a #KejriBribeBomb that had exploded.
CNN News 18
The “2 cr donation scam?” was breaking news on CNN News 18 as well. The channel covered the story extensively but with a more neutral hashtag of #HeatOnAAP.
NDTV’s coverage was comprehensive but without any insinuating hashtags. Though there were no noisy debates and anchors asking for Kejriwal’s resignation, Kapil Mishra continued to grab headlines at the channel for days to come.
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 7, 2017
Zee News ran a DNA on the corruption charges asking “Has fighting against corruption turned Arvind Kejriwal corrupt?”
— Zee News (@ZeeNews) May 8, 2017
AAP supporters have produced a collage of the coverage, which we are reproducing here. The party continued to be under attack by Hindi news channels after allegations came to light. It was a media trial – the terminology used was insinuating, the tone was mocking and the anchors had pronounced the judgment of holding Kejriwal guilty even before the CBI investigation.
Coverage of the “Clean Chit”
<This section has been intentionally left blank as so far none of the news channels mentioned above have tweeted any update regarding the clean chit>
The above is a summary of the prejudiced coverage by TV news channels of the bribery allegations against Arvind Kejriwal. Barring a few channels, the others twisted the narrative and ran headlines and hashtags pronouncing Kejriwal as guilty. The ‘nation wants to know’, asked one channel as it demanded Kejriwal’s resignation on the basis of charges that were not investigated and substantiated at that time. Now one year later when the charges have not been pressed and there is conflicting news about a “clean chit”, does the nation not deserve to know?
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