News website The Wire apologised on Saturday for the statements made by its consulting editor Vinod Dua on the #MeToo movement during his show Jan Gan Man Ki Baat. However, the website defended its decision not to terminate Dua’s employment. Dua has been accused of sexual misconduct by filmmaker Nishtha Jain and journalist Sunita Thakur.
The Wire has set up an external committee to investigate Jain’s allegations, which are about incidents that allegedly took place in 1989. However, Dua continued to air his show this week, in which he suggested the #MeToo movement deflected attention from important questions in the months leading up to the Lok Sabha elections. Some comments were later edited out, but the website retained his remarks towards the end of the video, in which he gave The Wire a week to investigate the charges and likened the #MeToo campaign to “mudslinging”.
In its statement, The Wire said its editors “unreservedly apologise for the manner in which the allegation was mischaracterised and trivialised in the last episode of Jan Gan Man ki Baat”. It said it had not terminated Dua’s employment or suspended his show because “the #MeToo movement has produced allegations dealing with a range of situations, all of which require a range of responses”. The statement said that he was not suspended because he does not supervise anybody at the institution and so could not cause harm, and because there have been no allegations against him at The Wire.
The Wire said Dua recorded his show before the investigation against him had started. On the criticism of its decision to allow Dua to respond to the allegations against him on his show, The Wire said it was his right to respond, and added: “Our view was that his dismissal of the charges, from the platform of his show on The Wire or any other media outlet, would have no bearing on any investigation to be conducted against him.”
The website also said that though Dua asserted that the show will be suspended only for a week, it will in fact be off air till the investigation is completed. It rejected Dua’s likening of the #MeToo movement to “mudslinging”.
“It would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest this movement in general is about mudslinging,” the website said. “Such a view runs totally counter to The Wire’s editorial position. His programme went up without any editorial filter and was a major failure of oversight at our end. Some comments he made at the start of the programme about the #MeToo movement as a diversion were edited out later.”
The website also said it does not agree with the consulting editor’s claim that the allegations against him constitute not sexual harassment but merely “troubling someone”.