A statement falsely attributed to Bangladesh prime minister raised at a US state department briefing by a former press official of Begum Khaleda Zia reiterated the call by rights activists and journalists for not counting on "single and controversial" source for receiving information and drawing judgements.
Under the pretext of asking question to Mathew Miller, Spokesperson for US Department of State, Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey put forward a statement turned out grossly inaccurate with many calling it a "deliberate and ill motivated attempt" to drive a wedge in bilateral ties between the two countries.
In reference to a small but strategic Island Ansarey, who served as an assistant press secretary during BNP's last stint can be heard saying "Bangladesh PM said US wants to grab Saint Martin" in a media briefing asking response from the spokesperson.
"Such outright egregious assertion can no way fall in ambit of journalism, defies all academic criterion of what we consider work of journalism in academic arena. Rather we can better describe such act as textbook case of propaganda peddling," AAMS Arefin Siddiq, a former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University and a former professor at its journalism department.
In reference to a series of past false assertions by Ansarey, another former professor of mass communication and journalism department Golam Rahman added "Such sort of campaign should not be treated as work of journalism— activists can run motivated campaign — in the wake of such activism, objective work of reportage comes at play. Independent work of journalism is a good tool to fight out such menace".
The academic also reminded of an earlier barrage of disinformation campaign to justify World Bank's earlier move to pull out funds from Padma Bridge project, while later a Canadian court ruled out such allegation and observed such assertions were based on flimsy ground and faulty evidence
"But a reality check reveals, the premier did not mention any reference of US in her statement on explaining the growing geo-strategic importance of the Island", added Harun or Rashid, a senior journalist.
Using the scope of asking questions before US spokesman, presenting such level of disinformation, not even sparing a Prime Minister, and then throwing up questions is an attempt to clearly draw an “instigating” answer, says Ajoy Das Gupta, a senior journalist and researcher.
"A journalist should remain careful in framing questions backed by substantive evidence. Any breach in this basic guideline would surely eliminate objectivity and expose agenda driven activism", told a senior journalist Haroon or Rashid.
"In the pretext of asking questions, leaving half-truth ridden innuendos in no way boost credentials of any journalist and stands as a clear attempt to mislead the one who is answering alongside cannot be regarded as journalism rather activism", he added
The practice of outright false attribution centering PM at such befrinings is surely considered as a classic case of disinformation campaign, violates all ambits of responsible journalism and is dangerous and cannot be taken lightly as it’s a brazen abuse of freedom of press, says Gazi Nasiruddin Khokon, who worked on a leading outlet Bdnews24.
He also stressed on lack of absence of a rigorous cross checking segment for spokespersons before they issue their comments,
Earlier, renowned rights activist Sultana Kamal has said the UN bodies and other international organisations, while taking information on human rights issues, should not rely on a single source.
Reminding a recent move by the administration of US president Joe Biden in defence of a new initiative to help target disinformation, professor Delwar Hossain, an international affairs expert , said that "In every country, the menace of disinformation has become commonplace."
On January 8, International Business Times UK, an online news portal, ran two separate statements attributed to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs and six Congressmen, which were said to have been obtained from an aide of Khaleda Zia's elder son and BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman.
Days later, the portal withdrew the statement and published a fresh one in which the US body on foreign affairs blasted those working behind this "fake" statement.