For some reason best known only to Times Now, the channel decided to huff and puff over a Barack Obama campaign ad, which said that not only did Republican presidential candidate hopeful Mitt Romney outsource jobs to Mexico and China as a CEO, but as governor he also outsourced a task to a call centre in India.
My god, the insult – Obama has spent, said Times Now, a million dollars to “trash India”. This news played over and over again on the channel all evening, even as it had to compete with the other “big story which we are tracking” – the release of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon by the Maoists (that’s another example of a TV extravaganza).
On the Newshour last night, there was Goswami, filled with nationalistic pride, surrounded by Chidananda Rajghatta of The Times of India looking a bit embarrassed, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of Hindustan Times looking smug and embarrassed, Mohandas Pai, once of Infosys, looking amused and not sure if he could tap sufficiently into his inner jingoist and a few other guests.
Goswami launched full steam into his heartfelt anguish at this perfidy by Obama – when the facts said that Indian companies contributed millions of jobs and billions of dollars to the US economy (a few gazillions and who knows, India might solve all the US’s economic problems). But guest after guest pointed out that all this was election rhetoric and that anger with outsourcing was now normal campaign guff and that whoever won would do little to change US policy.
Goswami, as he watched his argument crumble, smiled wryly and changed tack. He was not, he said, talking about the inner workings of the US election process. He was bothered about perception and stereotyping. Luckily he found one guest who weakly agreed, sorta kinda.
After 15 minutes of sound and fury signifying nothing, and guaranteeing a good laugh for all viewers, the debate petered out as everyone just repeated the same thing. Goswami ended by asking why the Indian government could not spend some money to issue a counter ad. Indian pride, one can only hope, was restored amongst those viewers who spend their time picking up stones and weeds everywhere, hoping to find an insult to India and then demand reparation.
On Friday morning, interestingly, only The Times of India was interested in this story.
(An aside: the other fight for Indian pride was on the internet over Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher and some chips ad where he mimics an Indian. The Indians won because on the internet, power operates differently!)
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Stewart by the way, took on the sex scandals in the US secret service, hardly guffaw-inducing stuff compared to Goswami.
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Meanwhile, the collector: all day TV told us that the kidnapped by Maoists collector Alex Paul Menon was about to be released. We were treated to some pictures of some bush and scrub with very bad communication lines and no collector. Then in the evening an exhausted man appeared, only to be mobbed by eager reporters. This is one of the fault lines of modern journalism and you have to feel for both parties. The media needs the story and the collector needed some rest. He looked as he himself said, “shattered”.
Since Zee had most of the pictures, everyone had to credit it. Headlines Today and NDTV, instead of showing the bush and scrub, showed us Menon’s father-in-law. The CNN-IBN website told us that the collector was freed hours before he appeared out of the wilderness.
No explained whether that was inside information or a false start to the race.