Open magazine responds to NDTV’s statement on the Cover Story: X-Tapes (issue dated: 29 November 2010)
In a statement issued by NDTV on Open magazine’s cover story, The X-Tapes, which carried, among others, transcripts of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Niira Radia, the television channel included comments by Open’s editor Manu Joseph. What was not mentioned in NDTV’s statement was that Manu Joseph’s comments were extracted from an SMS he had sent to Barkha Dutt as a reply to her message that someone in Open was running a “smear campaign” against her. His message (which begins with, “That’s not true”) is in reply to her accusation. The editor of the magazine firmly stands by the story, and to say that he has admitted to a “distortion in the story’s caption” is a gross distortion in itself. Also, he had used the word “unremarkable” to describe her transcripts, only in the context of Barkha Dutt’s claim that there was a smear campaign against her.
The NDTV statement further objects to “the clear misrepresentation of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Ms Niira Radia, that took place in May 2009.”
Open maintains that there was no misrepresentation. The conversations were carried as they appeared in the recordings. NDTV does not deny that these conversations had taken place.
The NDTV statement goes on to say, “NDTV believes the magazine should first verify and corroborate facts before participating in a defamatory smear campaign. These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action.”
Open magazine is sure of its content, which is why it decided to run the story. Open is one of the most respected magazines in the country, it has among its staff some of the finest journalists in the country and it has no interest in participating in any smear campaign against a well-known journalist. The cover story is self-evident and anybody who has read it can see very clearly that there have been no “unsubstantiated, baseless or defamatory” allegations.
Open Media Network, New Delhi