Fake News in Xi’s China (state censorship) and Modi’s India (self-censorship)

State censorship of media is open in China. In India, self-censorship is more prevalent.

Over the past few weeks, Western media have mocked the Chinese state for censoring innocuous words on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter alternative. This is despite the clamour in the West for cracking down on alternative news sites and ideas.

Skeptical as I was, I searched for the same words on the Chinese search engine Baidu. Nope, no sign of censorship. Western media claimed the number 1984 has been banned. Baidu had no problem with it either.

Meanwhile, CNN campaigned that YouTube shut down Alex Jones’ Info Wars channel and also contacted advertisers for their comments. YouTube then suspended/purged several channels. Even gun hobbyists channels felt compelled to move to a popular pawn streaming site.

Then came the famous Chinese eye-rolling video. A female journalist at a business news website rolled her eyes in frustration at a long-winded and obviously pre-scripted question at an official Chinese state press conference. Xi’s power grab has been in motion for a few years now but Western media is quick to hang him. This happens even while police, intelligence agencies and every petty government department in the West is arming itself with ever more surveillance and autocratic powers.

What’s so unusual about a pre-scripted question? Anyone who has watched Obama’s press meets and interviews knows that it was all a charade. American journalists would shamelessly applaud him and laugh at his lamest jokes. It was only when he would tour abroad that he would get a dose of reality.

Note how a lone American journalist, out of habit probably, tries trigger a clapping frenzy.

Indian media used to be apolitical, as competition is fierce. Somehow, Modi has conquered them. Everyone in the media is afraid. Of what, we don’t know.

When Kapil Sibal gave his press conference on the mysterious deaths of three other people in the Judge Loya case, it was reported live in the afternoon. But by evening, all news channels avoided any mention. Next day, newspaper vaguely alluded to some issues in the case and that Congress party demanded a thorough investigation. They all printed a PTI report that was misleadingly brief. Total and absolute self-censorship!