Such is the state of India’s media today that self-appointed fact-checkers are the ones spreading the most fake news.
Alt News founder Mohammed Zubair, who has a long history of spreading misinformation and fake news, today added to his already-sizable repertoire. In a tweet, he seemed to compare two headlines from Sweden and India. “Swedish Parliament Committee says government failed in pandemic handling,” a Reuters report had said. “India under PM Modi successfully fought Covid-19 battle: Amit Shah,” said an NDTV headline.
Mohammed Zubair tried to portray that while Sweden’s government was virtuously admitting that it had failed in its response to the pandemic, India’s government was saying it had succeeded. But Zubair cleverly hid facts by sharing only the screenshot of the Reuters news report — the article made it clear that Sweden’s Parliament Committee’s statement wasn’t the view of the Swedish government at all.
Sweden currently has a minority government led by the Social Democrats and the Green Party. With these two parties having just 33% of the seats in Parliament, it is a minority government, which relies on support from other parties. The Chairperson of the Committee cited in the Reuters report is Karin Enstrom, who is from the opposition Moderate Party. As such, the views of the committee wasn’t the view of the Swedish government — it was the view of a Parliamentary Committee which was led by an opposition member.
Interestingly, Sweden’s own government has said that the report cited by the Committee didn’t level any serious charges. “Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren told news agency TT that while some issues might have been handled better, the committee had not leveled serious constitutional criticism,” the Reuters report added.
As such, Alt News’ Mohamaad Zubair tried to pass off the views of an opposition led Parliamentary committee, and compared it with a statement attributed to Amit Shah, who is a member of India’s ruling party. Cleverly, he chose a headline from fellow-far left propaganda platform NDTV for his purpose. NDTV, as is its wont, had taken a line from Amit Shah’s nuanced statement to make it appear that Shah had simply said that India’s fight against Covid had been successful.
“Now, the cases are dipping, the number of patients is decreasing. The oxygen requirement has come down to 3,500 MT from 10,000 MT. This indicates that the COVID-19 curve is going down,” Amit Shah had said. He had also provided statistics. Amit Shah had said that the speed of India’s vaccination drive was the fastest in the world, and would cover a maximum number of people in the shortest possible time. He also contrasted India’s performance with other countries. “As you might have seen in media (reports), even highly developed countries struggled to tackle the pandemic. On the other side, we fought the battle with patience and planning,” he’d said.
But NDTV chose to leave out these details from its headline, and went with a simplistic assertion that Shah had said that India’s fight against Covid had been successful. This headline was later used by Alt News’ Mohammed Zubair to attack the government.
However, as it turns out, India has indeed been far more successful than Sweden in fighting the pandemic. As of today, India has had only 245 deaths per million from Covid, while Sweden has lost 1,425 people per million from Covid. Even in empirical terms, India’s fight against the virus has been far more successful than Sweden’s.
But all that didn’t matter to propagandist Mohammed Zubair. He shared a screenshot of a report from an opposition-led Parliamentary Committee and passed it off as Sweden’s views, added to it an NDTV headline that didn’t adequately capture Home Minister Amit Shah’s views, and tried to negatively compare Sweden to India. With fact-checkers themselves going to such lengths to spread fake narratives, one can only wonder who could possibly step in and stop these self-appointed guardians of the truth from spreading outright lies.