Was CNN-IBN right not to air Amar Singh sting?

Tuesday’s disgraceful scenes in the Lok Sabha—when three BJP MPs heaped currency notes of nearly Rs 1 crore to show that they were being bribed to abstain from the trust vote motion moved by the Manmohan Singh government—has a media angle to it.

The buying and selling of legislators, it turns out, was captured on film by CNN-IBN at the instance of the MPs. But the channel declined to air the “sting” and said it would hand the tapes over to the speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee.

The media website Hoot speculates that the channel did not air the story either because its contents did not pass muster with editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai or because Anil Ambani, a shareholder in Network 18 which owns the channel, leaned on bossman Raghav Bahl not to air the footage meant to discredit Amar Singh, a politician close to Ambani.

Media commentator S.R. Ramanujan asks a few questions on The Hoot:

1) Is it the job of a TV channel to provide proof to any Constitutional authority, in this case the Speaker, before it could telecast the news to its viewers?

2) Does this not give handle to critics to allege that the channel was silenced? In fact, in a panel discussion in another channel, this was hinted.

7) Is the reluctance to telecast due to the fact that the concerned MPs preempted the channel by disclosing the “Cash for Votes” operation on the floor of the House violating an understanding?

8) “Publish and be damned” is the idiom mediamen are taught right from the journalism schools. How far is this relevant today?

The sight of the BJP, whose president Bangaru Laxman was stung by Tehelka, demanding that the latest sting be made public, is not without irony.

In an editorial on the issue, The Indian Express joins issue:

“The relationship between sources and reporters is always tricky business and that’s why the need for strong editorial filters. The TV channel made an error of judgment when it claimed, just minutes after the MPs rocked the House, that it had the “tape” of the incident the MPs were allegedly referring to and then argued that it didn’t meet its editorial standards. The channel has the opportunity now — and the responsibility — to take the right call.”

Read the full story here: To sting or not to sting?

Rajdeep Sardesai on why the sting wasn’t aired

Also read: Why the Indian media does not take on Ambanis

Is this man the new media mogul of India?

Why Rajdeep, Barkha must decline the Padma Sri

Cross-posted on sans serif

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21 Responses to “Was CNN-IBN right not to air Amar Singh sting?”

  1. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    leaned on bossman Raghav Bahl


  2. Faldo Says:

    Knowing the channel’s sympathies, this is not unexpected. The leaning is unnecessary.

  3. Manish Says:

    Quite obvious… I cant expect more from anything which associates Rajdeep Sardesai.
    If the videotape had anything regarding BJP/RSS or any such organizations, the channel would have aired it hundreds of times or wait… Maybe thousand times… That too with SMS polls and all those rubbish shit…

  4. Mohan Says:

    If the channel was silenced, what was it silenced with? Suitcases?

  5. Hosa-Belaku Says:

    Oh, I took their statement at face value: “After an internal evaluation, we have decided not to air it.” Or something to that effect was flashed on the screen –right at the top, something like above the masthead! I thought they did not have enough evidence to prove anything in what was captured on the camera. And I thought after seeing the visuals, they realised it would be better to keep mum.
    But if they have given it to Speaker, surely we will hear more about this soon? Maybe they are building up the case with everything to back up strong action and will then air it? After all the TV channel may have just been pulled in to tape the money being taken out/in etc; there may be nothing more to point a finger at anyone at this stage.

  6. Prasanna Says:

    I remember CNN-IBN catapulting itself to the centrestage of Inidan MSM by staging a sting operation on poor,unlettered tribal/SC-ST MP’S from BIMARU states (for parltry sum of Rs 10000).The footages were aired ad nauseam and outrage was manufactured over alleged fall in parliamentary standards.Apparently Rajdeep was not confronted with any ethical dilemma that time around.No permission was sought or asked to air the tapes even though sitting MP’S were involved .Anyway that did not prevent Stalinist speaker taking suo mouto notice of allegation – members were expelled even before you blinked the eyelid for what appeared to be a minor peccadillo

    Ofcourse things have changed how.Rajdeep Sardesai sees virtues in Amar Singh type cronyism were entire support to government is linked to safeguarding the coomerical interests of a particular corporate group.

  7. Tarlemaga Says:

    CNN IBN comes under CNN World Wide known for American Interests. Given the fact that the NUKE deal has American Interests, the bosses would have shut a pygmy like Rajdeep and Sagarika Ghose with ease.

    The same channel is known for bestowing the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi with CNN IBN Person of the year etc. This was reciprocated with Padma Sri in return. The Congress Govt and the Media are hand in glove.

    In addition Rajdeep might be looking for bigger rewards such as Bharat Rathna in future. Rajdeep your future is bright as your career graph can turn North Wards if the tape is not released.

  8. Bisi Bele Bath Says:

    The English Media in India has always projected BJP as a Communal Party while Muslim League, Muttahida Quami Movement, PDP and Akali Dal are known as Secular according to them.

    The Pandits in Kashmir are not considered Minority. The Pandits have been kicked out of their state. However it not called a Holocaust by the media. It is on account of Terrorism

    The Hindus in Kerala are not considered Minority or Minority Educational Institutions are not approved for them. The Hindu Population has dwindled in Kerala to about 30%.

    Secular Country does not have a Uniform Civil Code for all Religions like the one in Canada or France. Both these countries are secular and law is same for all religions.

    Our politicians and media talk about half baked secularism which is not digested by the Masses in this country.

    Inter Caste or Inter religious marriages are not encouraged because their vote bank base will be destroyed over night.

    Media too does not encourage this as they cannot predict Entry and Exit polls once there is a change in the society.

    Strategies are put in place by a half baked constitution about 50 years back and the results of this has been disastrous.

  9. dama Says:

    Seriously,this is what happens when businessmen leaning in politics own the media ,look at whats happening with Rupert Murdoch owned print and TV medias around the world.Sorry but freedom of press is dead almost everywhere not just India.Anyway Rajdeep shame on you I never thought this guy was a worthy journalist why because he used to migrate from one News channel to another for money now he has found his right place with the crooks.

  10. dharma Says:

    If it was a string operation about BJP MP taking money, it would have been made public and would have been run over all channels about thousand times.

  11. Tathagata Mukherjee Says:

    Jyoti Basu, though Stalinist, often used to say one thing to media: you are free to write whatever you want in the editorial page. But never distort newsitems.

    Its this type of double standard, as in case of Rajdeep, that has destroyed credibility of a large section of Indian Media.

    And without credibility, free media serves nobody.

    Worse thing is, BJP already has the details- guess as reported by a section of media, Madhya Pradesh Police also have footage of the stuff. And they are going to leak it slowly but surely.

    Arun Jaitley, the most astitute Indian drawing room politician, already started it by giving blow by blow account of the same. Rediff and the Indian Express carried it today.

    Rajdeep was a promising, young journalist who could not stand upto his boss, or conscience and surrendered. Sorry to say, he has lost credibility, the sole USP of a journalist.

  12. Tathagata Mukherjee Says:

    Also, I must say, Churumuri’s credibility went up little by taking a rational, pro freespeech on this issue.

    You showed little courage by questioning Rajdeep’s (in)action.

  13. Kartik Says:

    “Journalist” is not synonymous with “sex worker” yet, but some determined hactivists like Rajdeep Slurdesai are working on it.

  14. nilesh Says:

    Thank God, Dilip Sardesai is in Heaven.

  15. Mohan Says:

    Samajvadi Party’s friend Anil Ambani’s group holds stock in CNN-IBN:


  16. Shishir Sathe Says:

    Who guarantees what was handed over to the Speaker was un-edited ?

  17. suri Says:

    These illiterate bums manning the channel have no idea of how parliment functions.When only 487 votes were polled electronically this cheap journalists with no common sense kept barking and shouting for 20 minutes that there were large scale absentations from the opposition.What this fool did not realise was if all those who abstained were from the NDA CAMP then the total against the deal would have been 290.In reality the MANUAL votes were pending.And yet these morons went on and on stating that 50 odd MP”S did not vote.What a shame that these 3 rd class reporters try to dictate to the common folk.

  18. bengaluru raja Says:

    It must be bluff . Remember famous Bellary Janardhana reddy CDs ,looks like similar that why CNn IBN didnot broad casted. secondly Only One crore advance for 3 MPs I did not believe it. Perhaps BJP could arrange cash of that much only at the nth moment.

  19. overseas observer Says:

    other news channel should take this as an opportunity and start a campaign requestign the tapes to be made out…this happens only in india that after an alleged scam like this people keep quiet….bjp should take out a nationwide agitation if they feel so strong about it…or black list the channel from not appearing in any of its shows…

  20. deepak mishra Says:

    rajdeep sardesai shoulkd hang his head in shame.the loudest and the screamiest news hawker who,woefully lacks refinement finally has met his nemesis.the spinelessness was obvous the way he succumbed either to money or pressure not to air the tapes.now at least he should stop his theatrics and give up journalism.we have borne the sagarika rajdep mediocrity for too longt

  21. ashok Says:

    Hang your head in shame CNN

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