Updated: Factchecking Press (mis)Trust of India #PTI #mediabias
It is alarming when you have an article from an organization that claims to be a collective of news media peddling a political slant, and it gets replicated word for word across various sites syndicating news from them. After National Broadcasters Association issuing a veiled threat to Kejriwal in the wake of their outrage over hearing punishment recommended for paid media for the first time, now it seems Press Trust India is reporting selective news, presented in a manner as to distort the sense of proportionality of reported statistics. Here is a sampling of titles it was published under:
There are a dozen others including Times of India, Outlook and more. This is the article:
Strange as it may seem, 30 per cent of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates for the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh are billionaires, while 40 per cent have criminal records against them.
This was revealed in an analysis of candidates for the second phase by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and MP Election Watch (MPEW).
The ten constituencies which are set to go to polls in Madhya Pradesh during the second phase of polls on April 17 are Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Bhopal and Rajgarh.
Four out of ten of Congress and BSP nominees have criminal records against them, while only three out of 10 BJP candidates have criminal cases filed against them.
Giriraj Yadav, an independent candiate from the Guna constituency has a murder case against him, while Brindawan Singh Sikarwar, the BSP candidate from Morena has an attempt to murder case pending against him.
Here are the problems with the article:
While it is unclear what the title in the original PRI feed is, it is clearly about AAP, since the altered titles in the various news websites all talk of AAP’s criminal and billionaire candidates. Yet the article is not solely about AAP, but is a comparison of all Madhya Pradesh second phase candidates.
Presents AAP as the party with the most criminal candidates through “creative writing”.
40% of candidates and four out of ten candidates is the exact same proportion. Yet the article is about AAP’s “40% candidates” – out of 10, while for Congress and BSP it is four out of ten. And for BJP, it is *just* three out of ten, which is a massive difference of…. one candidate.
Criminal record or criminal case?
All candidates with criminal cases against them except BJP are referred to as having a criminal record, while BJP candidates merely have cases filed. Who would think these are different rows of the same table being spopken about? Human perception is such that a record implies a confirmed criminal history, while a case is “not yet proved”.
Selective reporting and lack of handy source to verify.
This is the source of the data reported in this article on the ADRIndia website. The data used in these tables is on page 8 out of 34 pages.
- Fascinatingly, there are no reports of other data mentioned in the report. [later]
Fake data out of context
For example, the part where PTI gets the data for “30% of AAP candidates being billionaires” is tricky. The closest I can come to locating it is the table where 29% of AAP candidates are said to be crorepatis. One billion is 1,000,000,000. One crore is 1,00,00,000. That is a difference of two zeroes or one hundred times the crore mark. ADDITIONALLY, this beautiful factoid omits to mention that not only is it 29% and not 30%, but in the same table, Congress has 89% candidates who are crorepatis and BJP has 84%.
Update 2: The document further below analyzes the 2nd phase candidates alone and finds 30% (3/10) AAP candidates crorepatis (NOT billionaires) and the same table says 100% (10/10) of Congress candidates are crorepatis and 80% (8/10) of BJP candidates are crorepatis.
My judgment: HATCHET JOB
Here’s the Bonus. The 4 AAP candidates with criminal cases mentioned by ADRIndia? I was unable to locate the fourth. The constituencies going to the polls in the second phase according to the article are Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Bhopal and Rajgarh. Out of these, I was able to identify the candidates with criminal cases for Atul Mishra – Sagar, Rachna Dhingra – Bhopal, and Santosh Bharti – Damoh. If you look at the nature of cases, they are what you hear activists being slapped with all the time.
As Atishi Marlena has just pointed out, Atul Mishra is the one who exposed major procurement scam in Sagar University, and took case to CBI. Santosh Bharati is well-known anti-corruption and forest rights’ activist! Rachna Dhingra is a well-known Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims’ activist.
I have no idea who the fourth candidate is that ADRIndia has listed if I compare these constituencies with this list of candidates with criminal cases in the Lok Sabha Elections, sorted by party provided helpfully by multiple BJP supporters (for some reason). Either ADRIndia got its data wrong, or the PTI report got the constituencies wrong, or one of the candidates withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party for not meeting standards was on the list, but didn’t get updated in ADRIndia records. Or I made a mistake.
Update: The fourth candidate is Dr. Prashant Tripathi – Rajgarh – again similar. One case that looks like a typical activist thing. Apparently the list is for candidates with serious criminal cases, and this one was not on them, so it took going through each constituency to find.