The exclusive history of the Hindu on Friday, based on documents from the Ministry of Defense (MoD), established that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was negotiating directly with French officials on the controversial agreement of the Rafale fighter plane. The report said Defense Ministry officials raised a red flag over what they called “parallel negotiations.” The government, the BJP and a section of the media have tried to make holes in history. The official BJP Twitter account also launched an offensive against The Hindu.
The following are four reasons why the line of attack on The Hindu story in Rafale is not only superficial, but also involves the Narendra Modi government.
No single report on a subject is the last word on it. The research stories come in drops.
The government and the BJP said in their defense that The Hindu did not publish the handwritten note of the then Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar. The platform that published Mr. Parrikar’s note, ANI, did not publish the entire file, so, by the same logic, they can be accused of hiding something. The fact is that everyone publishes what they can get and what they think is relevant.
Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward broke the Watergate scandal said this about how it happened, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 29, 2017. “… Incremental information is essential. We write more than 200 stories in Watergate. When he said “let’s go for the big enchilada” or whatever, Bob would say: “this is what we know now and we are ready to put on paper”. And then, inevitably, one story led to the other and the other and the larger story expanded due to this informative dynamic. The best possible version of the truth became repeatedly clearer. More developed and understandable. We are reporters. Not the judges. No legislators. “What the government or citizens or judges do with the information we have developed is not our part of the process or our objective.”
Anyone interested in the whole truth must seek more, instead of seeking to question the truth that the Hindu has revealed. Every report, every day, should try to bring “the best version of the truth that can be obtained”. That may not be a complete truth, but it is an eminently acceptable benchmark for good journalism.