Saturday, June 1, 2013

Media tries and judges….and is also the arbiter of probity and righteousness….

Have you noticed this other thing that has been happening in our media space recently? That whoever takes media’s side is painted in virtuosity, and against, in dark colors of immorality. I suspect media does this with an agenda. To pull in more support for its point of view. And people oblige. After all, who doesn’t want a lustrous self-image, a chance to cleanse all the misdeeds of the past….and in fact, create a world of new opportunities? Media has today become the arbiter of probity and righteousness.

Take Rajeev Shukla. He resigned as the IPL Commissioner yesterday. Suddenly, he’s become a hero. He’s the one who made the “ultimate sacrifice”….all to make sure that the real “villain”, Srinivasan, is forced to quit. Suddenly he is “poor” Rajeev Shukla – so keen to clean up cricket. “Good old” Shukla – his hands must have been tied by Srinivasan; why else would so much betting and matchfixing and conflict of interest and everything else happened under his watch? “Righteous” Rajeev Shukla – standing up for the truth and exposing the wily and vile Srinivasan. You see the trend here? Suddenly Rajeev Shukla is on the right side of the struggle and has been cleansed.

If there was fixing in IPL matches, then surely Rajeev Shukla had some role to play in it. Shouldn’t he have been responsible for preventing it? After all, he was the one running the show right? It was Rajeev Shukla who should have been sacked first right? Somehow, because he first sided with media and made the right noises against Srinivasan, and then yesterday quit as IPL commissioner, he was spared any criticism by media. Instead, he was showered in lavish praise. The Hindustan Times quotes Shukla as saying “It was a decision I was pondering over for some time. I think it is time to step down”. OMG. He looks like such a good man. But really, why did he not step down on the very first day when everyone was demanding Srinivasan’s resignation?

Equally, Arun Jaitley, described as the “senior-most Vice President of the BCCI” should have been criticized for his role in the way IPL was compromised? But no, the TOI writes this rather innocent bit on him (on Srinivasan offering to step aside, not quit): “Initially, senior members like Arun Jaitley had felt that “stepping aside” was enough as this would also provide Srinivasan with a face-saver. But on realizing the implications, he’s understood to be revising his opinion”. On realizing the implications???? Arun Jaitley, the shrewd politician, the astute lawyer, the wise man – did not realize the implications??? But no, the TOI is currently focused on Srinivasan. It will go light on Jaitley!

Or take Sundar Raman, the CEO of the IPL. Surely, as the most powerful executive behind the IPL, he should have resigned first? Surely when he failed to act on the tip that the ICC apparently gave him on Meiyappan’s bedding business, he should have acted on it? But no, Sundar Raman is a mere executive. There is no masala in attacking him. The real masala is in attacking the organizational head honcho. So Sunder Raman gets to go scott free! In fact, he gets a pat on his back….

What is it that we are trying to say here? That Srinivasan was a one-man army who steam-rolled everyone into everything? But then on a different day, our media also called the BCCI a “coterie” of power brokers, or a “private fiefdom” and many such things? Media should make up its mind – are all of them the same, or are some bad and other virtuous?

In media’s limited intelligence, the world is cut up simplistically into black and white. Right now, Srinivasan is the blackest sports administrator in the country. And in order to make Srinivasan look even more black, if the other black-tinted people have to be shown to be white, so be it. Rajeev Shukla realizes this, and has played his cards smartly. So has Arun Jaitley.

When media attacks omeone, it never stops. And when it backs someone, it backs that person fully. So no one is asking Arun Jaitley why he hasn’t resigned as Vice President, even 24 hours after it was reported that all VPs were going to resign. Equally, media loves the APCO-propped Modi. So it is going light on Modi. Why is no one asking why the PM-in-waiting, the “clean” (?) Modi is not asking Srinivasan to step down? Media believes in the marketing concept of “Focus”. Right now, it has decided to focus on Srinivasan!

Of course, there is also the huge ego that media has. Once media has decided something, how can anyone dispute that. How can Srinivasan not do what media is demanding? Who does he think he is? At the end of the day, media can get CMs and cabinet ministers and PMs (ok, not PMs yet!) to resign. Who does Srinivasan think he is? Let’s teach him a lesson. And why should we have to produce any evidence of any wrong doing at all? Let him step down first, evidence or no evidence. And why should we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the conflict of interest charge? Who is the SC? We as media have pronounced him guilty. He better go.

And yet, like I have written earlier, media doesn’t want the same rules to be applied to itself. When Barkha Dutt got entangled in the Radia tapes matter, she got herself “tried” by a self-appointed panel of “jurors” (actually journalists of her own breed and creed), in a courtroom of her own choice (her studio). And when this august panel “acquitted” her, well then, they must be right. But if the BCCI does that same thing with a panel – in which it has included at least one ex HC judge – then that’s not OK. One set of rules for others, one set for media!

The real truth is that the message to all of us blokes is clear. When media takes up a cause, support it blindly. Or else, risk being painted black. Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke of the BCCI realized that in time and quit and became heroes. Politicians – especially opposition ones – have long back realized that the shortcut to image building is to parrot media’s position as their own position. If media says “we need death penalty for rapes”, all of them go crooning that. If media says “no death penalty for corruption”, all of them go singing that tune. Media has always been powerful; now it has also become the arbiter of probity and righteousness….

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