Left-liberal media outlet’s like The Hindu claim to be champions of free speech and freedom of expression. Yesterday, Sandipan Deb, founding Editorial Director of Swarajya, has published a Facebook post exposing how hollow such claims actually are.
We reproduce the post by Sandipan Deb below –
Today (18 September) is the 5th anniversary of Swarajya, a multimedia publication I helped found—I was the first Editorial Director. Though I’m no longer associated with Swarajya, it’s a wonderful feeling, and the warmest congratulations to the team who have made this happen against all odds.
But. But. But. This rather long (and I think important) post is about a very interesting and revelatory experience I had yesterday, which says a lot about media organisations that supposedly stand for democracy and a free press and freedom of expression.
I was left stunned. On January 29, 2015, days before the first issue of Swarajya magazine was published, The Hindu carried a long interview of mine on the values and ideas that Swarajya stood for.
Yesterday, around 2.30 pm IST, I did a Google search “sandipan deb Rajaji swarajya” to access the interview. The search showed up the link, but underneath, it said “No information is available for this page”.
This was intriguing, since no link I had ever encountered on Google search had had this note below it. In fact, the last time I had accessed the link, it had no such note. I clicked on the link, and got some html garbage (it didn’t occur to me to take a screenshot). I was surprised, since I had shared the link with someone who had asked for it just a month ago, on August 11, and everything was fine.
Obviously, The Hindu had taken down the interview because Swarajya‘s ideology clashed with The Hindu‘s! This was something unprecedented that I had never encountered in my 30-year media career! I clicked on the link repeatedly and got the same result.
The link also did not have a cache! I got busy with some urgent work, and then at 6.40 pm, I did the same Google search again. The link appeared with the same note below it. I clicked on the link, and the interview was there! (https://www.thehindu.com/…/interview-wit…/article6830231.ece)
What was happening? I did some quick research. The note “No information is available for this page”, Google told me, meant “The website prevented Google from creating a page description, but didn’t actually hide the page from Google….The page owner partially blocked this page from Google, so we couldn’t create a good page description. Unfortunately there’s nothing that Google can do about this. If you know the site owners, tell them they are blocking Google with a robots.txt file, which prevents Google from creating a page snippet.”
So what The Hindu did was: 1. Sometime between August 11 and September 17, it took down the interview because it didn’t want to acknowledge that it had ever carried an interview of the editor of a publication that did not match The Hindu‘s ideology. 2. Possibly (I am guessing), the site’s systems noticed that someone had repeatedly clicked on that link in the afternoon. So The Hindu did a clever thing. It uploaded the interview again, but prevented Google from reading it.
Result: 1. Unless one does a very specific search “sandipan deb Rajaji swarajya” or “sandipan deb swarajya thehindu”, no one can find the link on Google search. For instance, I did searches for “sandipan deb Rajaji” and “sandipan deb thehindu” it never showed up; forget searches for more general terms like “liberal right thehindu interview” etc. If you take chunks of text from the interview and do a Google search, the link does not show up, because The Hindu does not let Google read the page.
2. So, the interview remains on the web, but no one who does not know of its existence can ever find it! It is as good as invisible, so The Hindu‘s purpose is served! And it can’t be accused any more of taking down the page!
Frankly, I have never till now heard of such a thing done by a media organisation. So much for commitment to democratic values, freedom of the press and expression etc! I am stunned.
The rise of new, alternative media platforms asserting the Hindu & Indic viewpoint has really ruffled feathers of the liberal-secular elite who have dominated news media with an iron hand until now. The tried & tested strategy of the English language news media is a mirror image of how Marxists stifled alternative views in academia – just deny a platform to your ideological opponents, i.e. Hindus, and suppress any incident which goes against your agenda.
While the Hindu-leaning digital platforms are still no match in terms of resources and reach as compared to the mainstream media behemoths, the intolerance of our self-appointed guardians of free speech like N Ram, Prannoy Roy, Shekhar Gupta and others will only manifest itself more strongly in days to come.
The country will soon discover that our media elites are neither ‘left’ – most of them are wedded to the corrupt Congress ecosystem for assorted perks and privileges, or ‘liberal’ – their sermons are reserved for Hindus alone, they will not/dare not utter a word against the Abrahamic fundamentalists who are the real threat to this country’s plurality and diverse social fabric.
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