The Tehelka exposure was a wonderful event. It was far from wonderful journalism. Nevertheless, much good may come out of the exposure. After all, didn't earlier Tehelka tapes clean up cricket? Even though Manoj Prabhakar, who carried the spy camera, became himself a victim.
The Tehelka tapes are welcome because transparency is welcome. It is odd therefore for the media to complain about the commission of inquiry's brief to probe also the making of the tapes. Should the media itself remain above transparency?
In its editorial, The Hindustan Times described any effort to probe tehelka.com as being "motivated". But motivation is the name of the game, dearie. Is The Hindustan Times haunted by memories of the St Kitts scandal during which embarrassing details about its own role surfaced?
At first, the Tehelka team said it had 100 hours on tape. Then, 20 hours of edited tape that really counted. Then, after apologising to Advani, that there were no more tapes. Finally, tehelka.com editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal told The Hindu: "We are not releasing any more tapes at the moment... But you never know. We are not releasing anything as yet."
Do these remarks reflect the attitude of professional journalism? Or of participants in a political fight where the timing of the tapes' release becomes crucial? There's nothing wrong with participating in a political fight. But let's not whine about pressures, probes and counter-charges by those who are targeted. Journalists too must demonstrate their transparency.
Threatened by a defamation suit, R.K. Jain, who sang loudest on the tapes, has apologised to finance minister Yashwant Sinha and has confessed that he lied. Evidently, a defamation notice has been served on tehelka.com. too. Let's see how Tehelka responds.
Meanwhile, the knives are out in the nda. Advani says his impression of the first 48 hours was wrong. He now thinks there was no conspiracy. Oh yes there was, counters Jana Krishnamurthy. George Fernandes darkly hints against IB officials. He thinks tehelka reporters had "identified an agency that would help them create this story". He points to the Congress as a possible co-conspirator.
What? Sonia Gandhi conspiring with Advani? Well, the Sindhis of Hong Kong did present her with an award, didn't they? Hmm! The plot thickens...
This government should go. This Parliament should go. This "system" should
Who will win and who will lose—
All this will be forgotten,
Posterity will shower abuse
On all because they are rotten!