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PoliticsIndiaWhy a scapegoat can't save Siddharth Varadarajan, The Wire

Why a scapegoat can’t save Siddharth Varadarajan, The Wire

Siddharth Varadarajan carried in The Wire stories based on 'evidence' already proven false even after the freelancer it had blamed for the first mistake had been fired

CEO of BlueKraft Digital Foundation Akhilesh Mishra has posted a series of tweets (a thread) with compelling arguments, which makes it difficult for The Wire‘s founder editor Siddharth Varadarajan to escape unscathed from the alleged fake news his portal had run on Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Mishra wrote that the raids against Varadarajan and his collaborators were not because of defamation case but “because of forgery, cheating, fraud, fabrication and criminal conspiracy. Not once but consistently”.

Why a scapegoat can't save Siddharth Varadarajan, The Wire

Targeting Varadarajan and MK Venu — the latter carries the ignominy of Niira Radia tapes scandal already — Mishra wrote referred to the apparently card-playing journalists as a “gang”, saying that the excuse that “they were misled by Devesh Kumar is laughably absurd”. Kumar happens to be the man who supplied data to The Wire, which made the propagandist media house, which fashions itself as “independent media”, believe BJP’s IT cell head had asked Meta to pull down some content critical of the ruling party from Instagram. The Wire alleged, a big stretch as it may sound, that Malviya would often dictate to the US-based big social media company what content should and should not remain on their platforms!


First tweet in the thread

To that end, The Wire published reports that claimed to carry ‘evidence’ in the form of emails that indicted Meta as well as Malviya. The officials of Meta who were named in the reports denied having sent those emails and also said the addresses cited by the leftist media house were outdated or was never in use.

Malviya, after voicing his grievances against The Wire at a press conference, lodged an FIR against the media house and its editor. Malviya’s complaint says The Wire “forged documents with a view to malign and tarnish” his reputation.

A day later, Delhi Police conducted search operations at the houses of The Wire’s founder Siddharth Varadarajan and editor MK Venu in Delhi. Police checked their devices and collecting evidence for the sake of an investigation. The cops said nobody had been detained and the Crime Branch teams were doing no more than a routine job. “The searches were conducted in connection with the FIR. We are checking their devices and collecting evidence,” a police officer said.

Meanwhile, Meta’s denial had triggered what comes across as a series of cover-up attempts by Varadarajan’s website, which culminated in its management firing freelancer Kumar for ‘misleading’ the media house deliberately or otherwise. An editorial published by The Wire owned, of course, the mistake of not doing due diligence.

The portal retracted reports that said Malviya had used special privileges given to him by Meta to take down posts critical of the BJP. The website apologised to its readers and promised to tighten its vetting processes. But if it was indeed sorry, the stories it filed subsequently should not have been filed.

Once Kumar had been fired, how come The Wire was still citing addresses of Meta officials in its subsequent stories, which had been proven to be unreal already? Who was doing it after Kumar was gone? These are the questions Mishra is asking.

Assuming that the original story with bylines of Varadarjan and Jahnavi Sen was on the basis of Kumar’s misleading act, “what about subsequent forgery and fabrication,” asks Mishra.

“After social media and Meta called out the initial Wire story as fabricated”, Mishra alleges that The Wire “fabricated Andy Stone email”, claimed that a fake Andy Stone email’s fake DKIM had been verified to be true and “forged verification of two external experts” — all under the supervision of Varadarajan after the editor no longer had the excuse that Kumar or some other external input provider was misleading him.

Mishra says that Varadarajan claimed that The Wire‘s internal computers had faulty date stamp due to TailsOS, and asks, “Who accessed the Wire computers to enable this forgery?”

Varadarajan claimed that he had met with Meta sources, but “who were these fake sources?” Mishra asks and adds that it is not just one case of forgery but a series thereof.

The CEO of BlueKraft Digital Foundation says Delhi Police is absolutely right in investigating criminal forgery in the case while summarising the alleged felonies by The Wire under the watch of Varadarajan. Mishra says when Andy Stone alerted Varadarajan on 11 that The Wire story was forged, the “subsequent forgeries” had to be mischiefs of somebody other than Kumar who had been fired already.

These forgeries, Mishra says, are

  1. Forged of Stone
  2. Forged DKIM verification video
  3. Forged emails from external experts
  4. Fake TailsOS story
  5. Fake Meta sources
  6. Fake Meta call to Jahnavi Sen
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