Cobrapost’s Aniruddha Bahal says ‘sting’ videos authentic; yet to pay reporter

Cobrapost founder Aniruddha Bahal tells NH that the ‘sting’ videos are authentic and that they were yet to complete payments to the undercover reporter Pushp Sharma as they were pressed for capital

Photo By Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo By Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Web Desk

Almost two months after web portal Cobrapost had released its first set of purported ‘sting videos’ on 17 media groups, on Friday, May 25, it released the second set of 47 videos, purporting to show top officials of 27 media organisations talking to an undercover reporter ‘Acharya Atal’ regarding advertising plans to deride the Opposition, spread communal hatred and promote Hindutva.

The Pracharak Acharya Atal, claiming to be representing an organisation styled as ‘Srimad Bhagwat Gita Prachar Samiti’, is seen offering hundreds of crores of rupees for sponsoring advertisements, events and advertorials to promote a partisan and communal agenda.

The second part of the ‘sting’ operation was put up after Dainik Bhaskar secured an injunction from the Delhi High Court against screening the videos. Cobrapost’s YouTube channel left out the part dealing with Dainik Bhaskar on May 25.

The ‘sting’ videos purportedly feature top executives of the Times Group, Network 18, Zee Group, India Today Group, Dainik Jagran, Hindustan Times, Andhra Jyothi and ABP News among others.

In a story on this Cobrapost expose published in the Indian Express,Cobrapost’s founder Aniruddha Bahal when asked about the funding of the operation, was quoted as saying that the ‘sting’ investigation was conducted by undercover reporter Pushp Sharma on his own and that Cobrapost “bought” it from him.

The article further quoted Bahal as saying, “When told that the videos featured just chat, he said: “The reporter had gone with a specific intent and they took him very seriously… none of (the media executives) would have given us any time if they didn’t think that we have money”.

Asked whether any money exchanged hands, Bahal said, “How could we give money? We don’t have any money.” He said it was all about showing “intent”, reported the Indian Express.


In a story on this Cobrapost expose published in the Indian Express,Cobrapost’s founder Aniruddha Bahal when asked about the funding of the operation, was quoted as saying that the ‘sting’ investigation was conducted by undercover reporter Pushp Sharma on his own and that Cobrapost “bought” it from him

When National Herald reached out to Bahal regarding his comment that he had only “bought” the sting, he said, “The videos are all authentic. As the reporter shot them, he handed them over to us. If outstation, it would be [handed over] when he came back. Sometimes for safety reasons we even collected the footage from outstation by sending office staff.”

Bahal said that they took care of all the expenses subject to an upper limit. “We have yet to pay the whole amount as we are capital pressed right now because of the termination of our Times of India contract, but hope to give the remaining amount soon. The commitment of the reporter can be seen from the fact that he ended up spending more from his own pocket as well,” added Bahal.

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Published: 29 May 2018, 4:54 PM