Barkha Dutt Trains Radia Gun at NDTV, Lashes Out at Former Bosses

Barkha Dutt alleged NDTV pretended to be an “anti-establishment crusader.”

4 min read
Barkha Dutt, in a Facebook post, alleged that NDTV pretended to be an “anti-establishment crusader”. <i>(Photo: Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)</i>

Senior journalist and former NDTV employee Barkha Dutt took to Facebook on Monday, 23 October, to lash out at the television news channel while also explaining her silence when she was associated with it.

She alleged that the channel, while assuming to be an “anti-establishment crusader”, was “desperately seeking the help of BJP ministers and party leaders.”

Dutt’s outrage comes after Sreenivasan Jain, a journalist with NDTV, voiced on Facebook his concern when the organisation took down his news report on BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.

Jain called it a “distressing aberration” by NDTV, but asserted that he would continue with the channel.

Following Jain’s viral post, Dutt took to Facebook to allege that axing stories was “hardly new and those seeking the higher moral ground now remain absolutely silent.”

After Dutt’s post on 18 October, some asked why she did not speak when she was working there, and reminded her that NDTV defended her during the Radia tape controversy.

Why She Did Not Speak up Earlier

Dutt claimed she spoke up earlier in the form of email exchanges and “verbal arguments”, and she thought going public with her concerns, while she was working in the organisation, was “indecorous.”

She wrote that NDTV thought that her not “defending” the channel’s decision to drop some interviews was a “betrayal”.

So, is the suggestion that I should have done what a former colleague just did : dissent in public , embarrass the organization, claim the high moral ground and yet conveniently stay on ?! I prefer my route : fight ferociously within and when staying gets untenable because they actively punish you for fighting - you quit. I speak as an ex employee. I am free to do so. Puzzled that my internal argument was a betrayal but a former colleagues public lashing is acceptable (sic)!
Barkha Dutt

Dutt also questioned if the organisation was in a “dire place” now that it cannot “afford to reprimand” Jain as they did to her.

“But NDTV Defended You During Radia Tapes…”

According to Dutt, the most “cliched” response to her earlier post was that her former employers defended her during the Radia tapes controversy. But Dutt asked why the management did not face “tough questions” or allegations of “financial skulduggery” like she did during the time.

Lobbyist Nira Radia spoke of a Rs 400-crore loan sanctioned to NDTV owners in the tapes, and the Caravan story reportedly blamed her for the credit given, Dutt said.

I knew nothing about that loan till much much later when news media reported it. And since I have never held a management position or a financial one ever, even while being a full time employee, I was never going to be made part of any such negotiation. So when we speak of the Radia issue, let’s also examine her role in the financial help she speaks of offering NDTV owners. Haven’t heard much debate on that have we ? I wonder why (sic).
Barkha Dutt

“Sure, NDTV Tries More Than Others”

Dutt wrote that she was “adult enough to know that stories were killed in newsrooms” but other media organisations “don’t act morally superior” as NDTV does when doing so.

“The difference is others don’t pretend; they don’t act morally superior and smug and above everyone else. They don’t claim to be something they are not. They don’t stand at Press Club and saw Don’t Crawl while seeking appointments with BJP head honchos by night. This has not been denied by NDTV simply because there are enough witnesses to these meetings and phone calls and they can’t deny them,” she wrote. 

Dutt, however, added that she was not “suggesting that help was offered”, but she that it was “important that help was sought.”

Open to Debate on This, Says Dutt

Dutt said she “lives by what she believes in” and that is what makes her both “popular and sometimes deeply unpopular.”

How NDTV initially disallowed and dropped the story on National Herald : how it made me edit portions of a Taslima Nasreen interview- the list is endless. And the paranoia with which PC interview was made to vanish - so that even traces of it do not exist on the website today. No lawyers were vetting that one were they ?! So where did it vanish ? And why ? In all these cases no defamation suits we’re involved (sic)!
Barkha Dutt

This was not a right-wing-left-wing issue, said Dutt, adding that she cited examples of both the Congress and the BJP.

She claimed the owners of NDTV did not meet her to tell that she was being “punished for being argumentative” by giving a non daily news role.

Even a request by me to buy at market rates my footage from the Kargil war was turned down. So forgive me for being done with this whole notion of loyalty as mouth- silencer.
Barkha Dutt

Read Barkha Dutt’s full post below.

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