PM Modi asked the BJP workers in New Delhi to forge a “direct connection with the people”, bypassing mediums of communication “which are never going to support us”.
This is not an aphorism. It is an exhortation: Don’t shoot the messenger. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has joined the exalted ranks of those holding high office across the world in blaming the medium for the message. Addressing BJP workers in New Delhi on the appointment of J P Nadda as party president this week, the prime minister asked them to forge a “direct connection with the people”, bypassing mediums of communication “which are never going to support us”. He went on to accuse a section of the madhyam of supporting the Congress and “spreading lies” against the government.
First, a little code-breaking. Madhyam refers to the media, that holdall term that covers everything from the belligerence on prime time television, to listicles that hold forth on such topics as “Puppies vs Babies — who’s ruling the internet?” and even the humble written word, slapped on newsprint, delivered to your home. Within this vast space, particularly in plural democracies, there is every shade of opinion, objectivity and bias, and varying degrees of rigour, ethics and competence. This plurality also makes the media as a whole an easy scapegoat: Donald Trump cries “fake news” every time another one of his improprieties is exposed, Prince Harry holds the media responsible for the pressures that have forced him to leave the hard life of a royal and seek employment just like a commoner.
Perhaps the medium is not the message, after all. And an uncomfortable message is not the medium’s fault. Certainly, the media is all too easy to target and attack. Listening to it would be a lot harder.