Magsaysay Award winning journalist Ravish Kumar has often been called out on social media for spreading fake news, but this time the government has taken notice — and he’s been forced to apologize.
Ravish Kumar, in his journalistic enthusiasm, had tried to dispute the data on paddy procurement by the Government. The NDTV news anchor displayed a poster shared by Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal on the 14th January episode of his program Prime Time with Ravish Kumar. He pointed to figures on the poster and accused the Modi Government of distorting facts and also pushed the viewers to stand up for their ‘swabhimaan’ or self-respect against such fake data and media which spreads it.
Kumar referred to the poster and alleged that the Government data of procuring 534 lakh Metric Tonnes of paddy compared to 423 lakh Metric Tonnes in the previous year, thereby increasing the procurement by 26%, was false.
Kumar claimed that the website of Food and Public Distribution ministry said that in 2019-20 the amount of paddy procured was 519 LMT and not just 423 LMT. He also added that either someone had committed an error in the government, or the government was deliberately sharing fake data.
However, as it turned out, it was Ravish Kumar who’d spread fake news or had committed a grave error. Kumar has erroneously compared the procurement of entire year 2019-20 to figures from 1st April 2020 to 10the January 2021. The poster shared by Piyush Goyal clearly said the data was only till 10 January 2020, but Ravish Kumar has either missed it or deliberately ignored it.
The Government reacted strongly to the allegations, and the Press Information Bureau shot off a letter to NDTV.
Ravish Kumar has since shared an apology on Facebook. ““The information is incomplete and therefore it is not correct. In this event, a mistake was also committed by me in the episode of 14 January. The analysis of a tweet put out by the Railway Minister turned out to be a mistake,” wrote Ravish Kumar in his Facebook post.
Even after being caught spreading fake news, Ravish Kumar chose to double down and brazen it out. His post only has one line of apology, and then a long rant against the so-called ‘Godi Media’. Kumar says his critics must not rejoice when he commits mistakes. He further asks “Godi Media’ to “Think about the kind of misunderstanding being spread”. “Notice has been issued on this. I’d reply but the surprising thing is I catch many mistakes and lies in my program but there is no answer”, he added.
Ravish Kumar being a senior journalist should have had the prudence to double check his own report before fact-checking the Government, especially when there are ongoing protests on Farm Laws against the Government. It would also be wise not to incite people on such fake news. NDTV should have also fact-checked their reports, but it seems fact-checking is not their forte.