Times Now finds itself in a bind as the heat’s on Team Anna

24 Oct,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

After almost a year, I decided to watch We the People on NDTV. Ever since the Radia tapes were made public, I decided not to watch NDTV or read anything by Vir Sanghvi. This may be ridiculously self-indulgent but I did feel that they did journalism a disservice. However, since this We the People was about the demand for a ‘Right to Reject/Recall’ and featured Kiran Bedi, recently exposed for being a bit creative with her accounting habits, I thought it would be worthwhile to swallow my sanctimony and watch what happens.

Of course, no one called out Bedi for her bill-making. But the discussion did display the naiveté of Team Anna when it comes to its demands to save the nation. Congress MP Navin Jindal had to point out to the highly decorated IPS officer that it was not the job of members of Parliament to build roads. This task was best taken up at the local level. One would have expected Bedi to know at least that much.

Several objections over the ‘Right to Recall’ were raised by the audience, mainly to do with electoral expenses and the problem of having incessant elections. An annual audit of MPs was then called for — so that the voter could assess what his or her representative had done. Once again, Bedi  —  whose idea it was — could not provide a framework within which this report card would function.

Dorab Sopariwalli pointed out that it was arrogance and an insult to the voters of this country if elected representatives were referred to as “galat” as in wrong or bad. He also said that many middle and upper class citizens do not exercise their franchise, which is also a problem.

Several panellists — social activists, politicians, former bureaucrats — had divergent views on the right to recall/reject, which proves at least that the argumentative Indian is still alive.

One only wishes that anchors on these shows would push their panellists a little harder and call them out on sophistry, obvious fuddling and ignorance.

**

 If TV in India very often demonstrates how distance and scepticism are difficult for this brand of journalism, the sheer partisan nature of some of them is very amusing. Times Now, a constant champion of both Indian Against Corruption, Anna Hazare and the remaining core members of Hazare’s advisers, found itself in a bind when Swami Agnivesh alleged that the money donated to India Against Corruption had gone into a trust run by Arvind Kejriwal. As it turns out, Agnivesh’s contention was not denied by Team Anna. The explanation proffered, in a nutshell, was that they had not got down to doing it yet. Times Now reporters and anchors (not Arnab Goswami) went into victim-mode over the allegations and expressed pain that Agnivesh had made such remarks. The reporter pointed out that Team Anna feels that people are conspiring against them, which means that there is a conspiracy against them — the clarification in case, presumably, the viewer did not understand the first time. Why oh why did Agnivesh choose this time to make this allegation, asked an anguished anchor.

At the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy lecturer, one cannot understand TV’s allegiance to ratings. But this looks like they’re monitoring who their viewers sympathise with and then doctoring the news to suit that constituency.

Hmmm.

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2 responses to “Times Now finds itself in a bind as the heat’s on Team Anna”

  1. Shivraj Parshad says:

    Trademark Ranjo…I totally agree

  2. Rajan Alexander says:

    Audited’ accounts of Kejriwal’s NGO – PCRF, is a sad apology for processes of audit, transparency and accountability!

    Two days after Kiran Bedi was exposed for flying on discounted air tickets but taking full fare from sponsors, another prominent Team Anna member, Arvind Kejriwal, now faces charges of diverting huge funds from anti-graft front India against Corruption (IAC) to his own NGO. Swami Agnivesh, a former Anna Team member alleged that Kejriwal deposited between Rs 70 lakh and Rs 80 lakh from donations to IAC to his trust, Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF).

    Team Anna on the other hand responded that they will place all details regarding their accounts on the website of Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), by this month-end after a special audit.

    Such an offer by Team Anna however may not be by itself sufficient to assuage public misgivings and in all probability, may even end up fanning the fires of criticism of Team Anna further. Why? Just take a look at the appalling transparency and accountability standards of PCRF as reflected in their 5 years of audited accounts their placed at their website. Read on to find out why?

    Read more: http://exitopinionpollsindia.blogspot.com/2011/10/audited-accounts-of-kejriwals-ngo-pcrf.html

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