Tag Archives: The Buck Stops Here

Swami Agnivesh has a question for Barkha Dutt

A champagne moment of live television, 39 minutes and 48 seconds into NDTV’s Buck Stops Here show on Wednesday, April 20, the year of the lord 2011.

Star-anchor Barkha Dutt goes on and on about whether  Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan should continue to stay as civil society representatives on the Lokpal drafting committee given the charges they were facing.

Barkha Dutt: “Swami Agnivesh… you will see that the number of people who had to resign from public office—and many people believe this is a good thing—just because of suspicion or allegations or accusations, I mean, from Shashi Tharoor to Ashok Chavan to Sharad Pawar, there are so many different examples where legally, the allegation has not been proven, but even before the trial has begun, these politicians have stepped aside. Now some people are making the argument that those drafting the Lokpal bill must do the same. How do you respond? Do you believe the same standard must be applied as they are applied to politicians?”

Swami Agnivesh: “Well, Barkhaji, let me put it to you this way. Supposing there is an accusation of corruption on some mediaperson who is an anchor of a very famous TV channel, and if that person is initiating debate after debate on corruption and such [a] person is asked, first get yourself cleared of all these allegations and then only you will have a moral right to start or initiate a debate on corruption, should that person step down? What would be your answer?”

Barkha Dutt: “My answer would be very simple. My answer would be that we all must answer to the same levels of scrutiny that we subject other people to, and that is exactly what we are debating, whether that should take the shape of answering questions, whether that should take the shape of stepping down, will vary from case to case. And that remains my position. Justice [Santosh] Hegde would you disagree?”

Also read: Barkha Dutt & Vir Sanghvi: ‘We were targetted’

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‘A too-argumentative Barkha squanders chance’

Barkha Dutt, the “massively influential but ethically embattled” NDTV anchor subjected herself to an inquisition last night in a bid to extricate her credibility after the Niira Radia tapes were outed by Outlook* and Open magazines.

Unlike her well-lit Buck Stops Here set, NDTV situated the interrogation in a dark and spooky set, and the usually boisterous Dutt (“pretty” in the words of one editor) appeared sans her usual makeup, lending a mournful air to a rather morose affair.

In the words of the Wall Street Journal, she squandered her chance by being “too-argumentative”:

“Barkha Dutt sometimes gets flak for her interviewing style, with people saying she interrupts her interlocutors and doesn’t give them enough of a chance to speak.

“And unfortunately—especially for her, given this was a chance for her to win back alienated viewers—she was no different last night.”

BBC online correspondent Soutik Biswas writes:

“Indian journalists are fixers!” shouted a young lady in the audience during a play I attended in Mumbai last week. She even took the name of one of the country’s leading news presenters to demonstrate her point. The play was about to begin, and one of the actors was engaging in casual banter with the audience. “Do you think news is unbiased in our country?” he asked.

“Many in the audience guffawed, and the lady spoke up in outrage. At that moment it struck me how much the controversy over leaked phone conversations between some senior Indian journalists and a prominent lobbyist had enraged people. It is, clearly, the Indian media’s biggest crisis of credibility.”

* Disclosures apply

Scrrenshots: courtesy NDTV

Read the full story: A too-argumentative Barkha squanders chance

Also read: Indian media’s credibility crisis