Even amidst a pandemic, NDTV is doing what it does best — spread fake news to alarm the general public.
Today NDTV’s Convergence Head and former CEO Suparna Singh claimed to break what felt like an important bit of news. “BREAKING : vaccine proposals from Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech rejected today for “lack of safety” and inadequate data on efficacy,” she wrote on Twitter.
The news seemed alarming — vaccine proposals being rejected over “lack of safety” meant that people would perhaps think twice about taking the vaccines when they were finally out, making it harder to fight the pandemic. NDTV reported the same news, claiming that the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech vaccines had been “rejected” for emergency use.
But even as NDTV’s reports were going viral, India’s Ministry of health stepped in. “The news running on NDTV is fake news,” it wrote on Twitter, sharing an NDTV screengrab which claimed that the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech vaccines for emergency use had been rejected.
This would hardly be the first time that NDTV has carried alarmist news that attempts to spread panic. Just last month, NDTV had reported that a Tanishq showroom had been attacked by goons over its love jihad ad, which was proven to be false by the local administration, prompting NDTV to update its story. Earlier this year, NDTV had carried a headline saying that chapters on secularism and citizenship had been deleted from the Class X syllabus, while hiding the fact that several other chapters, across different subjects, had also been deleted to make the courses shorter during the covid pandemic. At the beginning of the pademic, NDTV had shared an alarmist article which had claimed India would have 25 crore Covid cases in 3 months, and had later deleted it after realizing it was a WhatsApp forward.
Now no news channel can completely do away with fake news — at times, despite the best intentions, some false stories can get published, and channels then issue retractions. But NDTV’s fake news always appears to be in the same direction — all its fake stories make India look bad, and attempt to paint the government in a poor light. If NDTV were truly a neutral news organization, there would be some fake stories that it publishes that made India look good, but it is virtually impossible to come up with such instances. Which could lead one to believe that NDTV’s fake news might not be so inadvertent at all — it is perhaps carefully designed to spread alarm and panic at crucial times among the Indian public.