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Friday, December 3, 2010

Silence of the lambs: The real Radia revelation

Since every journalist worth his/her byline has sounded off on the Radia-media connection, I thought I may as well mark the occasion with my two-anna bit.

What strikes me as most peculiar about these revelations is that we have become obsessed with the complicity of certain well known journalistic names. Big deal. Who cares if one was acting as a courier in politico-corporate manouvring for cabinet posts, another was cravenly asking for inputs for his column and a third was offering broad hints about his son's talents as a fixer?! It's the deeper rot that has to be examined.

As Barkha barked in one of her intemperate moments on her TV grilling, she was not the only journalist Niira Radia called. Precisely.

What gave Radia the gumption to call up a slew of journalists both senior and junior in pursuance of her agendas -- from cabinet formation to gas allocation battles and such -- with nary a thought about being exposed? Her confidence that these so-called top journalists would not spill the beans stinks of collusion. It reeks of cozy cabals, mutual back-scratching, favours taken and rendered. A conspiracy of silence while the game goes on.

So Radia must be smirking when, even with their backs to the wall, journalists end up defending her.

One says she made "an error of judgement" and was "silly" to deal with Radia -- note, not out of line, but simply silly. Another asserts that the similarity between his opinion in his columns is just a remarkable coincidence. And the third? Why, even his name is not taken in vain though the other two's monikers are tossed about with abandon. Wonder why? Well, in this game, it's not only who you know, but what you know about them...

Radia is not the only supposed corporate communications person who doubles as a go-between and fixer as the line blurs between all the pillars of the state. At the parties that all fixers (call them what you like: lobbyists, publicists, image managers) give, there is a happy confluence of politicians and bureaucrats, journalists and corporates, quaffing expensive wines, nibbling on hors d'oeuvres and posing smilingly together for the cameras.

The camaraderie built up at these convivial evenings translates into interlocutions and interventions, and if need be, strategic silences.

Nor is Radia the only one to be tapped, probably. Radia's tapping was 'authorised' you see, so the tapes could be leaked. That does not preclude government snoops eavesdropping on other fixers -- and you and me. The question is: what is the price for their silence (read: non leaking of incriminating tapes) regarding these players?

Consider the fact that out of 5000-odd conversations of Radia that were taped, only some 3000-odd were transcribed. And a mere 104 were leaked. What and who lie hidden still? And why?

The silences are deafening indeed.