One of the essential qualities of a credible journalist is bringing to light unbiased reports to citizens. As the fourth pillar of democracy, media is our only link to our elected leaders. But we live at a time when fake news is spread around the clock for political pandering. Unshockingly, the latest ‘journalistic’ platform to abet to such spread of lies is Republic TV.
Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV, on October 16, tweeted “JeM terrorists identified, Republic TV gets you first and exclusive pictures“, accompanied by an image with Republic watermark that showed three alleged terrorists posing with big guns.
SM Hoax Slayercalled Republic TV’s bluff and reported that the picture was published on Patrika on September 20, almost a month back.
Republic TV’s tweet vanished in just a few hours without an apology. A simple ‘Search Google for image’ would have established credibility for the picture, if only the media house cared enough.
Fool me twice?
The ‘JeM terrorists’ lies were followed by, on the same day, a fake sexual harassment story about former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan.
Republic TV picked up the false allegations from an account impersonating Australian model Lara Worthington, her middle name being Lara Bingle.
1/2 Harvey Weinstein is nowhere near Pakistan's Imran Khan whom I met in June 2013 in London. Imran Khan sexually harassed me at a party. pic.twitter.com/e9uvcmCF3a
Pakistan Today had published an article, revealing how the story was fake. Alt Newstoo quashed Republic TV’s false claims by posting the real Twitter handle of Lara Worthington, which, is the verified account of the model.
The Quint had fallen for the fake news but the publication corrected and reposted it with the facts.
Unsurprisingly, Republic TV was quick to delete the tweet without any explanation. However, the Facebook post on the fake news is still online on its official page.
Read: A model has accused Imran Khan of sexual harassment
Same as the previous story, a minute on Google would have saved the media house from another embarrassment (assuming that the fake news wasn’t a voluntary one).
Et tu, ANI?
On October 12, ANI published a story titled “Rohingyas likely to attack Nagaland: Intel sources”.
As reported by Alt News, the media platform said, “the Imam of Dimapur is contacting the Rohingya rebels and has commenced collecting huge amount of arms and ammunitions from Bangladesh”; “2,000 Muslims have volunteered to take up arms against the Nagas, if the latter try to drive them out.”. ANI went on to say that 20 ISIS terrorists have entered Nagaland and were training the volunteers. There is a threat of suicide bomb attack and blasts in the state, the story claimed.
The first one to call out the story’s bluff was a local publication Morung Express. It reported that the fake news was making rounds on Facebook and Whatsapp groups before ANI reported it.
ANI was quick to delete the story and its Editor News Smita Prakash put up a clarification on Twitter.
But the false story was picked up by many news portals.
On October 13, Arnab Goswami’s former haven, Times Now, also published the story titled, “ISIS training 2,000 Rohingya to strike inside Nagaland”
Anyone moderately acquainted with the Rohingya issue, ISIS, or current affairs for that matter, was able to see through the blatant fakeness of the story.
It is now deleted by the media house, though it still appears on Google search.
The fake news was also picked up by India Times, which, included the word ‘Muslim’ after Rohingya even though the migrants are both Hindus and Muslims.
The post is now deleted without an explanation but still appears on Google search.
Post Card News, an infamous fake news website, wrote about the story too and it continues to be online.
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.