Media in the time of elections: a megaphone for megalomania and propaganda? Or a microscope for deceit, lies and distortions?

At the release of the Congress manifesto, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah claims his government has fulfilled “99% of its 169 asssurances ” in the last five years.

At an election rally in Karnataka, Prime minister Narendra Modi thumps his chest and says his government has achieved “100% electrification” of India’s villages.

At various rallies, JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy promises sites for scribes, money for Brahmins, an MP or MLC seat for an auto driver.

Etcetera.

What is the veracity of these claims?

What is the media’s role in checking them out in the era of trolls and bots?

What is the media’s responsibility before putting it out in the public domain?

Who is the media obliged to: the politician and the party? Or the reader, viewer, surfer?

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Indira Gandhi termed journalists as “glorified stenographers”, but at least there was some effort involved in the act of putting pen on paper and separating the wheat from the chaff.

And at least there was some glory to be claimed at the end of it all.

Modern-day mainstream Indian media does not even make the effort to put up a pretence.

Garbage is churned into gospel truth, without verification, and repeated times without number, erasing the difference between editorial and advertising.

Derision and abuse is dished out as a sign of masculinity.

Below the belt is par for the electoral course.

The unfiltered amplification of Modi’s fact-free speeches—and Siddaramaiah’s and Kumaraswamy’s—are a good example of the passive role TV is playing in amplifying the BJP’s message, without checking his claims for veracity, without calling out the hypocrisy and duplicity.

Thankfully, there are still some places in North Korea where you can ask and answer these questions.

Yours truly, on the Kannada news channel TV9, with anchor Hariprasad, Dr Vaman Acharya of the BJP, Srikante Gowda of JDS, and Brijesh Kalappa of Congress.

#KarnatakaElection2018

Video clip: courtesy TV9