Skip to main content

The Nation Wants to Know

A farrago of exasperated thoughts and disconnected rants about the enervating persona that is Arnab Goswami. (Originally published on my medium account)

"Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalist" -Dr. Shashi Tharoor

For those who are unfamiliar with the mainstream TV media in India, the name Arnab Goswami isn’t one that might ring a bell. For the others, it is a name that sets off a series of bells attempting unsuccessfully to ring over the loud and resonating voice of the biggest showman on Indian television. In November 2016 when he resigned as the Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, arguably at the peak of its popularity, it left a lot of people wondering what he his next move would be. 6 months later, with the birth of RepublicTV, he clarified that beyond all doubt. Arnab had taken his wildly popular evening news show on Times Now called “News Hour” (named inappropriately for it had no news and lasted well beyond an hour) and given it a 24x7 identity of its own.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. As the self-annointed revolutionary in Indian journalism (“we changed the news” was a sticker prominently visible in the Times Now news room) it was only a matter of time before he outgrew the small screen and narrow editorial prowess that Times Now offered him. Arnab has gained his credibility and raging popularity through his complete oblitration of Abhijith Mukherjee (son of the Indian President, for calling women “dented and painted”), Ashok Khenny (a Karnataka MLA, for abusing a Times Now reporter), countless retired Pakistani Generals (for presenting the Pakistani point of view) and possibly most famously, Rahul Gandhi (the vice-president of the Congress party, who slipped and stuttered his way through a rare, one-on-one interview) among many others. He is credited with having broken many high profile cases of corruption including the CWG scam, the 2G scam, the coal scam and more. He took on a lot of important issues head-on and asked questions of the government that no other journalist would ask. That was his USP, captured succinctly in his now famous catch-phrase, The Nation Wants to Know.

RepublicTV: What would happen if twitter trolls had a TV channel

But Arnab Goswami is a double-sided sword that is considerably sharper on one end. Stemming from his strong belief that journalists must take sides, Arnab’s show, as I mentioned earlier, was never a “news” hour- it was an opinion column on steroids, broadcast on national TV under the facade of being a news channel. The problem with that is not the part where he expresses his opinion- a constitutional right which he is free to exercise- but the part where he defrauds millions of people by expressing them on a medium where people tune-in to receive unbiased news. Jokingly, I’ve read that people rarely tuned-in to his show for news- they did so more often for the entertainment. Only now, he’s his own boss.
Arnab Goswami, Managing Director and Co-Founder, RepublicTV
Questions have been raised about the ownership pattern of the newly-born media outlet, christened ARG Outliers Group and funded by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar, and whether the coverage will be predominantly biased in favour of the BJP-led government. Whether he is supported by the right or the left, the fact that he almost never presents the opposing argument is beyond disturbing. Once Arnab positions himself in one corner of the ring, he’s also simultaneously made up his mind to position you in the opposite side corner and from that, there’s no coming back no matter how logical or factual your position is.

Arnab is a senior journalist and nobody should attempt to teach him journalism because he’s seen and experienced enough to have an idea of journalism that he believes in. But what he does on TV is not journalism at all and that, everyone MUST question. Just take, for example, the promotions of RepublicTV before the channel went live. In a series of videos Arnab sent a message to a number of politicians and industrialists simply saying, that he’d be back. Amusingly, he picked Rahul Gandhi (who’s from an opposition party with a paltry 44/543 seats in parliament), Arvind Kerjriwal (the Chief Minister of New Delhi) and Subramanium Swamy (who he,despite the “brave” video warning, conveniently interviewed to legitimize his allegations against Tharoor). If the brave journalism that he espouses is one where he is going to spend time finding dirt against opposition members, so be it. If people are more interested in that news as opposed to holding the present government accountable to their many promises and lapses, then he is entirely right.

Or maybe its just that there is simply nothing to hold this government accountable for. That demonetization achieved none of its stated goals and led to the death of Indian citizens unable to access their own bank accounts is not news-worthy enough to question the government. That a person was killed for eating beef within the confines of his own house and that an investigation was launched into whether he ate cow or buffalo instead of arresting the people responsible for his death is not news-worthy enough to question the government. That the patriotism of sloganeering students on a university campus in Delhi was questioned to distract people from the sickening murder of CRPF soldiers by Maoists is not news-worthy enough to question the government.
In the 6 days that RepublicTV has been alive, the stories it has covered are 1) some (unconvincing) audio tapes alleging that Lalu Prasad Yadav has connections to the ISI, 2) accused Arvind Kejriwal of accepting a Rs 2 crore bribe, 3) brought up some audio tapes which, unless you make leaps of faith so large that you could break olympic records, prove nothing about Shashi Tharoor’s involvement in Sunanda Pushkar’s death, 4) the national herald case accusing the Gandhis of laundering party funds- a case that has already taken the accused to court.

Republic reporters are on tape harassing Shashi Tharoor by (extremely creepily) staking out outside his house in Delhi and Kerala and thrusting multiple mics his face everytime he walks in public. My simple question, is this- What do you want him to say that would make you stop? Firstly, if your allegations are true, there should really be nothing for him to say. So you should really just take what you have to the cops and have him tried in court. On the other hand, if you have no real evidence and all you’re looking for is for him to say something controversial on national TV, you’re not going to get that out of someone who has more experience regarding the media than anyone on your pay roll.
But such is the absurd charm of Arnab that you simply can’t stop watching this madness. It’s basically reality TV with a little bit of General Knowledge thrown in. As compared to the time before Arnab, people now recognize BJP, Congress and AAP party spokespersons. People look forward to coming home from a hard day’s work, turning on the idiot box and finally seeing that device live up to its name. And most recently, thanks to Arnab, we all got to learn the phrase “exasperating farrago of distortions and misrepresentations”. But I prefer to describe that channel using Dr Tharoor’s less sophisticated, yet more accurate phrase, “The digital equivalent of toilet roll”.

I don’t know what the nation wants to know. But I sure hope they’re not relying on RepublicTV to find out.


Popular posts from this blog

My Dear Guru

"Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo, Maheshwarah, Guru Saakshaat, Para brahma,Tasmai Shri, Guruveh Namaha, Tasmai Shri, Guruveh Namaha"

This post is meant for a selected few. So most others will find this irrelevant. It's meant for the people who took the trouble to write flattering remarks in my progress reports even though I'd only deserved a knock on the head and a good telling off. It's meant for the people who actually did tell me off when I'd gone too far in childish exuberance. It's meant for those I remember dearly with fond memories and others whose memory still sends a chill down my spine (but I still remember dearly). Gurus, they say, are dispellers of darkness. This post is meant for every guru I have ever had- both inside a classroom and outside it.

When I was still too young to remember names and associate them with faces, I had a group of teachers at TVS Academy in Hosur. My mother, I'm sure, knows all their names but I shamelessly adm…


Background: The intention is to read and review 50 books this year. While the original is a 100 book pact, I decided to do 50 for a start and maybe progress to 100 next year. There's no specific genre- Fiction, non-fiction, self-help- if it's been published, it's up for consideration. I'm not 'rating' these stories because it is not my place to judge these amazing writers. If you have book suggestions, drop comments or leave me a message! I encourage you to take up the challenge too and send me the link to your reviews! Start with 5 or 10 if you're not confident but give it a go! We spend too much time reading click bait nonsense on the internet- it's time we got back to reading real stuff. Here's hoping that this works!  #1 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories by multiple award-winning author JhumpaLahiri. Each story is incredibly detailed both in setting and character and vary in locat…

iPredict | Follow up

The dust hasn’t settled on the Apple Special event but I’m back to review my predictions. Firstly, let me convey my condolences to the intern who posted the tweet about the iPhone 7 on Apple’s (new and till now unused) twitter account before it was even announced on stage. Also, for a company whose mysterious aura used to captivate audiences, if the only things you could hide from everyone was the Mario app and the Pokemon Go what-ever-the-hell announcement, you might want to take a step back and evaluate where it all went wrong.
It’s na├»ve of me to expect the return of the Apple of Steve Jobs. But if you want any evidence that Apple has changed, it was all in today’s presentations. More on that in a later post! For now, let’s get straight to it!
Predictions from the previous post are italicized. My reactions to my predictions are below them. If you want to read the previous post, it's here.
An amazingly new iPhone.Well, amazement lies in the eyes of the beholder. The new iPhone…