Trial by media is a phrase we often hear. But it is the media which is on trial most of the time. And this is really becoming a little trying for us. Take the latest incident, let’s be careful with our words here, involving Saif Ali Khan.
Before you could say Jack Robinson, his ‘supporters’ are already saying that the media is targeting him because he is a celebrity. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virender Sehwag have a public spat on television and along comes a cricketing official saying that the media has blown everything out of proportion.
Of course, almost all spats among celebrities are the result of the media ‘distorting’ things. Then we have the celebrity who grandly announces that he or she simply does not care what the media says, only to cosy up to select mediapersons and give them juicy sound bites about rivals, only to deny them when they are out in print or television and the damage is done. Politicians, of course, are pastmasters at this. They will shoot off their mouths and then insist that they have been misquoted. This, as you can see, makes life very difficult for us poor humble hacks.
But what really gets our goat is the phenomenon of the small-time celeb who will grandly declare ‘I am off the press’. Or the aspiring celebrity who will sidle up to you at a party and utter some inconsequential rubbish with the rider ‘don’t quote me’ or ‘this is off the record.’ To which the more acerbic of us might say ‘no sooner are you finished, we will be rushing to our news vehicles and using your words of wisdom as the lead story.’ Often, the mini-celeb will protest in breathless anticipation. So, we have decided that in future, we are not going to waste our time and money actually going around getting authentic information. We’ll just cook it up and wait for the denial. But don’t quote us on that, will you?