India: Corrupt journalists shock more than corrupt politicians

Recently released phone conversations among a lobbyist, journalists and politicians are shaking up the political and media scene in India.

Seems some of India’s most influential journalists served as power brokers in a deal considered to be one of India’s biggest scams.(Leaked tapes put India, media in crisis)

The “2G scam” involves the telecommunications minister underselling mobile phone licenses in the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market.

The audio tapes, which were recorded in 2009, have lobbyist Niira Radia asking senior journalists Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi to mediate with the ruling Congress party about cabinet posts.

Seems the “special” deals the telecom minister approved cost India about $40 billion in lost revenues in mobile phone licenses. The minister was forced to resign last month.

He turned to friends in the telecom industry to line up support for him to keep his job. And that is where the journalists came in.

The two journalists told Radia they were on board with his requests to pressure the government.

Dutt is heard in one recording telling Radia, “What do you want me to tell them (Congress Party)? Tell me, I’ll talk to them.”

In another, Sanghvi promises to set up a scripted and rehearsed interview for India’s wealthiest man.

And here is the kicker:

While allegations of corruption are commonplace in India, revelations that some of India’s most influential journalists were involved have shocked the public.

Yep. It seems the citizens of India have resigned themselves to a certain level of corruption in their government but they are outraged by corruption in the media.

That should tell you something about the importance of a free press in a democracy.

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