Agenda-driven, Hinduphobic journalism of New York Times – Part 1

Christian Leader Versus Hindu Leader: New York Time’s Sebastomaniac Reporting

Recently on 24 January 2021, we came across a news story by New York Times newspaper with the heading, In Biden’s Catholic faith, an ascendent liberal Christianity’. It read, “President Biden is perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century. A different, more liberal Christianity grounds his life and his policies…The grassroot Christian progressive notion is heart stage in Mr. Biden’s Washington.”

The news in isolation would have been passed just an aberration by the newspaper. However, one needs to follow and analyse NYT’s reporting and opinions over a period, to understand their pattern and evaluate them for impartiality and secularism. A simple analysis of NYT’s reporting of Bharat’s leaders shows a strong undercurrent of Sebastomania running in it, an obsession going into extremes of being outspoken Evangelist and compulsive Hinduphobic.

Just contrast the hailing Biden’s Catholic credentials reporting with the news on Hindu political leaders of Bharat. One may find agenda-driven reporting/opinions/news which is unashamedly biased and hypocritical. It straightaway reflects NYT’s deep hatred against Hindus, their traditions and the people in politics who are not embarrassed with their Hindu identity.

A weird kind of journalism was witnessed in an NYT news story (12 July 2017) after the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Bharat as Yogi Adityanath was named the Chief Minister. NYT called the democratically elected Chief Minister a ‘militant Hindu supremacist’, with the headline, “The Head of a Militant Hindu Supremacist Temple is now Leading India’s Most Populous state. The Hinduphobia became evident as it went on to call the selection of the Chief Minister of the State as an “astonishing choice by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister” and called it a “populist drive to transform India into a Hindu Nation” and “shrinking the economic and political space for the country’s 170 million Muslims.”

However, the fact is that the tweaked news story’s headline was mischievous as nothing like “a militant Hindu supremacist temple” exists in Bharat. On 23 July 2017, again NYT did an opinion story on the issue and called Mr. Modi’s choice of Yogi Adityanath as “perilous embrace of Hindu extremists.”

By the same standards, should not NYT have called Joe Biden as Catholic Christian militant or Christian extremist?

It is noteworthy that the NYT’s news and opinion demonised a political leader who had been democratically elected in a state of more than 200 million people, more than half the population of the USA. He had won five consecutive terms as member of parliament from the same State before.

Not only this, Bharat’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s second term thumping win with a bigger mandate must have been an immense shock for the Western media, the likes of New York Times, Washington Times, Times Magazine, Reuters, CNN and other media platforms which had run sustained propaganda in the run-up to elections to malign and discredit Modi on various fronts.

It included a cover page story by the Times magazine on Narendra Modi calling him ‘the Divider-in-Chief of India’, just as the election process was going on. Interestingly the story was written by a Pakistani American journalist, Aatish Taseer, the man who had played a key role in getting a book on Delhi Riots withdrawn from Bloomsbury Publications and thus, stifling the voice of authors even before the book had hit markets and reached readers.

Anyways, good for Bharat that not many people bother to read Western media and get influenced by its anti-Hindu, anti-Bharat rhetoric and thus, they gave an electoral verdict in favour of Narendra Modi for the second time.

On 23 May 2019, the day of the announcement of election results in Bharat, NYT did an opinion story with the headline, How Narendra Modi Seduced India With Envy and Hate’[5], thereby discrediting and questioning the Bharatiya (Indian) electorate and their democratic maturity. The piece further goes on to attribute the Prime Minister’s re-election to ‘a tide of fake news and resentment.’ It called him “the Hindu nationalist Prime Minister of India” and termed him “dangerously incompetent”. Even the Election Commission of India, the institution respected world-over for its efficiency, too was termed “shamelessly partisan.”

Such epithets are an insult to the voters of the largest and most vibrant democracy of the world and discredit to the robust Bhartiya institutions like the Election Commission of India.

Again, a question arises, would NYT do an opinion story like this for Joe Biden too?

NYT’s regular Modi-bashing opinions are unabatedly served as news, and every small happening is converted into an occasion to demean him and his Hindu credentials. It goes irrespective of the fact that during Modi’s tenure, Bharat has gone up on multiple human indices, with his commitment to Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (everyone’s support and everyone’s development) agenda. However, NYT remained busy in writing Hinduphobic articles like,As Modi Pushes Hindu Agenda, a Secular India Fights Back’.

Objective journalism has died a hundred deaths in the context of NYT’s religious and political bias in reporting.

-By Dr. Prerna Malhotra (Professor at Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi)


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About the Author

Dr. Prerna Malhotra
Prerna Malhotra teaches at Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi