There is reporting, and then there is spin.
When the news of the day or the facts of an event are selectively picked and presented, they are a bit right and a whole lot wrong.
Bernie and his Amazon-Washington Post battles and coverage
For example, in August 2019, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his Workplace Democracy Plan. Its key aims were to double union membership, eliminate “Right to Work for Less” laws, give federal workers the right to strike, guarantee the right to unionize for all workers, amongst others.
In the context of American politics, these terms were enough to jail a person during the McCarthy era. And, in this case, a major presidential candidate was running on these promises.
It is as earth-shattering as Gorbachev proposing dismantling of Communism in the Soviet Union!
Washington Post’s news headline on Bernie Sanders, however, was “Sen. Bernie Sanders Changes Medicare-for-All Plan in Face of Opposition by Organized Labor.” (source)
It had mentioned just one point from his plan but in a way that seemed as if Bernie had abandoned the Medicare-for-all plan, his main plank! As for the rest of the explosive stuff? Well, it was shouting hoarse in its omission.
Why was all this happening?
In May 2019, Bernie Sanders had called out the fact about Amazon that no one talks about. That Amazon paid zero Income tax!
Sen. Bernie Sanders outlined his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Sanders said that it was “insane” that Amazon, a company owned by the richest man in the world, paid zero dollars in federal income taxes last year and vowed to “raise corporate taxes and do away with these tax havens.”
In August, Bernie was forced to call out the particularly curious stance of Washington Post regarding him and his campaign.
“And then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why,” he said at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon and privately purchased The Post.(source)
Immediately, the “left-liberal” media (which is neither left nor liberal), pounced on Bernie and compared him to Trump and his accusations.
And, Washington Post’s executive editor Marty Baron issued a statement.
“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Baron said in a statement. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”
Henry George Seldes, an American investigative journalist (also from Vermont), had once said
“The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself.”
After that, while Sanders somewhat walked back his argument, he hit the nail on the head by stating what really IS the problem. The “framework”.
But while the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate acknowledged that there is no direct link between the Post newsroom and Bezos, he continued to argue that the structure of the mainstream media leaves candidates like him at a disadvantage. “I think my criticism of the corporate media is not that they are anti-Bernie, that they wake up, you know, in the morning and say, ‘What could we do to hurt Bernie Sanders?’ — that’s not the case, that Jeff Bezos gets on the phone to The Washington Post,” the Vermont independent said in an interview with CNN. “There is a framework of what we can discuss and what we cannot discuss, and that’s a serious problem.”(source)
A detailed review of the actual events and the coverage by Washington Post clearly shows how Bernie Sanders has been buried in negative reporting and opinion pieces, while those who have put him down have been rewarded (like Kamala Harris).
Bernie template and framework on Narendra Modi Government
We now see a replay of the Bernie template and the “Framework” hitting back on the world’s largest democracy and its government which got one of the biggest mandates in Indian electoral history in the largest ever democratic elections in human history!
Let us see what were the origins and connections to the Modi hating of Washington Post.
Big Retail Policies – Congress Vs BJP
BJP and specifically, Narendra Modi’s team, has never been in favor of large foreign retailers dominating the Indian market.
In 2011, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Congress led government had decided to open up the retail FDI in India – thus inviting the large retail giants.
The Indian government decided on Thursday to allow foreign retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco to open stores in the country, the first time that policy makers have moved to open India’s vast and fast-growing retail market to outsiders.New York Times
It was something that BJP specifically opposed tooth and nail!
They had expressed reservations way back in 2010, when the then spokesperson and now Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, had categorically laid out the BJP stance.
“BJP is against FDI in multi-brand retailing. There are nearly 10 crore enterprises (SME and trades) in India and it is believed that they are growing by 15% annually. MNCs, with their predatory pricing policies and large cash reserves, will crush our retailers,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in a statement.(source)
And, although, Modi government did open up the policy for large retailers, the policy was not conducive for Amazon and Walmart.
Amazon and Walmart felt “ambushed” by the Modi government given its policy.
The rules now bar Amazon and Flipkart Online Services PTE from owning inventory and require them to treat all vendors equally, throttling discounts and exclusives — a huge advantage to homegrown companies, including Ambani’s new venture. His Reliance Industries Ltd., which owns India’s largest retail chain and third-biggest telecommunications network, has the potential to evolve into a local version of Amazon or Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., UBS AG said last month.(source)
This was on December 26, 2018, where the new policies were estimated to hit Amazon and Flipkart (Walmart) by 40% in revenues!
And, just as Bernie saw to his disbelief, Washington Post, started ramping up against Modi and Indian policies.
Washington Post filled its Global Opinions with known Modi-haters post 2014
And a roster was readied of writers to write its editorials on things related to India and Modi.
Rana Ayyub was hired by Washington Post in September 2019 as the Contributing Global Opinions Writer. Barkha Dutt had already been hired by Washington Post as the contributing columnist in its Global Opinions section in 2016.
Rana Ayyub had won a journalism award on 2002 riots for which she blamed Narendra Modi, a claim that has been held invalid and without evidence by every court in the country despite over a decade and a half of litigation (Modi was not responsible for 2002 – The complete story). Basically, her entire story was at best an ideological “hit job”. As is the case with Barkha Dutt, who also made her career with 2002 riots and irresponsible and dangerous journalism where her reporting even helped the terrorists in 26/11 Mumbai attacks, something that the Indian courts also pulled the media on.
These Modi-hating ‘journalists’ who have been peddling verifiable (now falsified by numerous court judgments) lies, falsehoods and downright irresponsible (if not collusion) journalism are the ones who represent India’s perspective to the American audience when Modi is the Prime Minster! Curious coincidence, is it?
Bezos gets the snub and Bernie template replayed on Modi Government
So when the Indian PM Narendra Modi and Piyush Goyal refused to entertain Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post was extremely cognizant of the “framework” that Bernie had talked about. As they were post Modi victory in 2014, when they started stacking Modi-haters into their Global Opinion team from India.
And, Dr. Chauthaiwale, BJP’s Foreign Affairs lead, called this “framework” link out.
And, just as in Bernie Sander’s case, Senior Editor for Global Opinions sections at Washington Post issued a statement on Twitter that seemed extremely reminiscent of Marty Baron’s statement where he took pains to say that “Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.” The lies and the cover up are remarkably similar.
And BJP spokesperson, gave Lopez back.
To this, Lopez used the common tactic of talking in generalities and obfuscating the issue.
But Chauthaiwale was quick to pounce and turn the tables.
Just as Bernie Sanders had complained, and as Indians have seen, Washington Post has been flush with “Opinions” and “reporting” that is decidedly one sided and lacks any serious research of the subject at hand.
None of the articles or WP’s reporting ever discussed a very similar law in the US, which was backed by the Democrats and renewed by President Obama himself multiple times – called the Lautenberg Amendment – Lautenberg Amendment – US Law that Grants Asylum to Non-Muslim Minorities. It was never mentioned to the American audience that the Lautenberg Amendment does NOT allow Iranian Muslims to seek asylum while it does allow Jews, Christians and Baha’is. Was Lopez, Ayyub and others willing to lobby for Iranian Muslims to be granted asylum as well?
And, did any of the stories ever focus on the plight and persecution of the Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in Pakistan or Genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh? (The Monumental Genocide of Bangladeshi Hindus by Muslims). The case of Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu who was abducted, converted and married to a Muslim, which even the Pakistani press found suspicious, missed a comment or her interview by Washington Post in all its context to Citizenship Amendment Act.
Apart from the obvious omissions (comparable US law and the intended beneficiaries of the CAA), one look at the headlines of Washington Post above shows a spectacularly prejudiced pattern.
Muslims as victims and Hindus as “nationalists” (akin to Trump). The persecution and the genocides of Hindus which was the overwhelmingly important backdrop of CAA was completely omitted. All, in order to create fake narratives and associations. One wonders if it was just dishonest or actually diabolical?
Conclusion – Its the ‘Framework’ that is at work
Surely Bezos is not going around making phone calls to Washington Post’s editors on whom to hire or what to write. But there is a “framework” that is at play between the ownership and the paper’s editorial staff, where the employees understand what benefits their financiers’ coffers.
As Seldes had said at another time:
“The most stupid boast in the history of present-day journalism is that of the writer who says, ‘I have never been given orders; I am free to do as I like.'” Seldes noted that reporters routinely “know from contact with the great minds of the press lords or from the simple deduction that the bosses are in big business and the news must be slanted accordingly, or from the general intangible atmosphere which prevails everywhere, what they can do and what they must never do.“George Seldes
So, all that Lopez had to do was to write about the Hindu genocide in Bangladesh, the persecution of Hindus in Pakistan and about the Lautenberg Amendment’s ‘anti-Muslim’ provisions. That would show how ‘independent’ his team and editorial policy is! And, if he threw in some perspectives from the small retailers and their fight with livelihood then we would know Bezos doesn’t pull his strings.
But as Seldes said so perceptively, Lopez’s statement is the most stupid boast in present-day journalism. Its time he and Washington Post stopped insulting the intelligence of 1.3 billion people from the world’s oldest civilization and the largest democracy in human history.