Half-truth or post-truth: Anything but truth

Chief Justice NV Ramana
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Chief Justice NV Ramana (File/Photo)

Highlights

A reputed English news channel in India has just escaped legal proceedings against it by none other than the top court itself for tweeting a false news

A reputed English news channel in India has just escaped legal proceedings against it by none other than the top court itself for tweeting a false news. Imagine the gumption of the channel in saying that the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had met the kin of the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre. A three-judge Bench headed by CJI Ramana hinted that it was a fit case for initiating proceedings against the channel, but the court decided to let it go on Friday. "We are sorry to see how the media is exceeding freedom of speech and expression. CJI is gracious enough to let this go else proceedings could take place," said Justice Surya Kant who was on the Bench. The CJI wondered: "It is so absurd that I am in court, how can I go to Lucknow?"

What the CJI said next reflects the ground reality in India. Deciding to overlook the issue, he said, "these are all TV things. This is part and parcel of public life...let it be." It is indeed a fit case for contempt proceedings. Half-truths and post-truths have become the hallmark of journalism for some. The shameless attempt by these organisations and their celebrity anchors not only misleads the people but also creates hurdles in delivering justice. These are the ones who air their own FIRs with 'facts' in the form of breaking news and muddy the investigating waters. Their next step is usually to coax people into accepting their arguments and defend their views. All the while they will be lashing out at the opponents of the political parties they back and keep rubbishing their stands. It is always a 'Peepli Live' story. Once done with it, they simply dump the news forever and move onto the next round of their venomous campaign.

Be it news about national security, a local incident or even a minor accident, they write politics all over and misguide the nation. However, let us look closely at this phenomenon itself. Does Post-truth or half-truth really exist? Whatever is not the truth, is all lies. Isn't it so? Can we really find Post-truth? It does not exist there. There is nothing new about politicians and the powerful telling lies, spinning, producing propaganda, dissembling, or bullshitting.

Machiavellianism has become a common term of political discourse precisely because it embodies Machiavelli's belief that all leaders might, at some point, need to lie. Lying is the in thing in politics and not an exception or aberration. At best it could be called a noble lie, as Plato prefers because it is being propagated by the rich and powerful to advance an agenda. Whatever lies these people want to propagate, passing them off as facts won't stand the scrutiny of law.

Some channels are deliberately reconstructing such crime scenes as Lakhimpur Kheri with political 'facts' not to convey information to the world. What makes something a fact is that it captures some features of the world to which it refers. It is dependent to some extent on their relationship to the world they describe thus. However short the shelf-life of the tweet put out by the channel was, it certainly was aimed at damaging the credibility of the CJI.

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