Left-liberals pull in support of NewsClick over Chinese funding scandal

Left-liberals pull in support of NewsClick over Chinese funding scandal


On 14th August, 50 left-liberals, former judges, controversial journalists and pro-naxals came together to support the online news portal NewsClick which is facing serious criticism and action from the Government of India over receiving funding from a US tycoon under scanmer for propagating Chinese propaganda.

A Google form seeking support from people from “prominent backgrounds” is being circulated among the left liberals. The form contains a statement that has been mentioned by several mainstream media portals in their reports. In the statement, the group of 50 so-called civil society members took “strong exception” to the accusations levelled against NewsClick and its founder and editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha based on a New York Times report.

A snippet of the Google Form was shared by X (formerly Twitter) user Vasudha. She wrote, “Spotted a Google form rallying support for #NewsClick the news outlet under scrutiny for alleged links to China & compromising India’s sovereignty. The Hindu, The Wire, JNU professors – Agencies & GoI should look into the signatories to this form, as some names raise eyebrows!”

They claimed that the NYT report did not allege any violation of law by the portal and argued that the portal has provided “critical coverage of government policies and actions and their adverse impact on the lives of millions of our countrymen and women, focusing particularly on the struggles of the most oppressed and exploited sections of our society, its workers and peasants.” Furthermore, the statement claimed NewsClick played a role in highlighting “people’s movements of all hues fighting for social justice”.

Calling the action and criticism against NewsClick “hounding”, they claimed it was an attack on the “freedom of expression enshrined in our Constitution” and “on the conscientious role of independent journalism in a democracy to inform its readers about the government’s failings and to hold the government accountable”.

They claimed that media is now corporate-owned and independent journalism free of its influence hardly exists. “It is all the more unfortunate that a vicious media trial is being staged although the investigation into the allegations brought against Newsclick is in court,” they added.

The list of those who have expressed their solidarity with NewsClick includes John Dayal former Editor, N Ram, former editor-in-chief of The Hindu Group, Sidhharth Varadarajan, founding editor of The Wire, actor Ratna Pathak Shah, actor Naseeruddin Shah, Ritu Menon, MK Venu, Founding Editor of The Wire, and many others.

Sidhharth Varadarajan is the founder of propaganda left-leaning portal The Wire. Varadarajan is famous for his anti-BJP stand and his so-called news portal often comes under fire for dubious and fabricated stories. For example, The Wire had to pull down stories on Meta and Tek Fog after it was revealed that the “evidence” they provided was fabricated and false. Our reports on Varadarajan can be read here.

John Dayal is a Christian pro-naxal activist who had extended support to notorious terrorists like Yasin Malik and others. In 2019, he had said he would consider Yasin Malik a murderer only if the courts tell so. There was ample evidence including Malik’s statement on television that he had killed IAF officials and other innocent Hindus in the valley. Our reports on Dayal can be read here.

MK Venu is the founding editor of The Wire. He is known for making controversial statements. For example, in 2019, he called chants of Jai Shri Ram “provocative”. He and Varadarajan came under the radar for getting paid Rs 15,000 per appearance on Rjaya Sabha TV. Total payments made to Venu for appearing on a Government-funded broadcasting channel was around 33 lakhs spread over a few years. Such payments were made under former Vice President Hamid Ansari and it was stopped when former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu took charge. An inquiry was ordered to look into such expenditure. Our reports on MK Venu can be checked here.

OpIndia cannot, however, independently establish the identities of the signatories to the form condemning the Centre over action against NewsClick.

The NewsClick controversy

On 5th August, The New York Times published a detailed article, revealing the ties of an American businessman with the Chinese government and his financial support to an Indian leftist propaganda outlet named NewsClick.

According to the US-based newspaper, a millionaire named Neville Roy Singham has been funding several news publications worldwide (including India) to peddle Chinese propaganda.

“What is less known, and is hidden amid a tangle of nonprofit groups and shell companies, is that Mr Singham works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide,” the article stated.

The New York Times pointed out that Singham has successfully disseminated Chinese government talking points under the pretext of ‘progressive advocacy’ in countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States.

During its investigation, the American newspaper found that Neville Roy Singham had financed an India-based leftist propaganda outlet named NewsClick. It noted that the news outlet had repeated the talking points of the CCP in the past. 

“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points. “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes,” one video said,” noted The New York Times.

OpIndia’s complete coverage of NewsClick controversy can be checked here.


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