[MJR] It’s all about how the media operates

24 Apr,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The most serious news programme on TV sometimes is The Daily Show by Jon Stewart, aired every week night on Comedy Central at 11.30pm. The only show that comes close is, of course, The Week That Wasn’t on CNN-IBN with Cyrus Broacha.


On Monday night, on The Daily Show, Stewart was all ready to discuss the fact that the Trayvon Martin case was finally going to trial. He was ready with the legalities of the case. Only, his reporters all vanished on him. There they were in Florida, standing outside the courthouse, because story was now no longer about George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin: it was about the media and its reactions.


A programme with a 24-hour discussion on whether the media was over-reacting was proposed. As Stewart had fits in the studio and ordered his reporters to get back to New York, they refused saying that this case was already being called the “case of the century”, “case of the millennium” and “case of the millennia” and they were not going to lose out.


What a fine exaggeration of the way the media operates, I giggled to myself.

Then, at midnight, I shifted to Times Now. Only to see Arnab Goswami in fine form, as he held forth on morality and the nation and the alleged sex CD featuring former Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and a lawyer. Some mention of becoming a high court judge as a result of this slap-and-tickle was made.


The panel was three journalists (four, if you count Goswami) and Siddharth Singh of the BJP. The BJP was, as far as I could understand, upset that Singhvi had resigned from his posts. They wanted him to explain the CD in the house (presumably not in a sex education way but knowing the BJP’s penchant for porn in legislatures, anything is possible). If the CD was real, then a probe (not like that!) was required. And if it was not real – as Singhvi has said – then another probe was required.


Vinod Mehta, guiding light of Outlook said it’s all over and done with, Singhvi has resigned and let this remain a private matter. Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times said the BJP was trying to squeeze every last drop of political mileage out of this, in spite of their own transgressions and once the Pandora’s Box was opened, they would not be safe. Arati Jerath said if this is the way high court judges are appointed, it is shocking and the matter should not be ignored.


Goswami said that politicians can no longer as for privacy when their private lives are made public by the media, given the BJP’s demands.


If this wasn’t fascinating enough, the next debate turned to the rift within Team Anna. Here the viewer was spectator to an incredible public squabble between three Team Anna members as Goswami and Hartosh Singh Bal of Open magazine watched with their mouths opening astonishment. Truly it was jaw-dropping stuff. All sorts of internal problems and ego battles were revealed.


At the end, Goswami sternly admonished Team Anna that the fight against corruption was not anyone’s monopoly!


At the end – 1.30 am — there was only the terrible truth of The Daily Show to think about. I didn’t sleep till about 3am as a result.


* * *


There is plenty of cyber rage over Press Council chairman Markandey Katju’s “proof” that 90 per cent of Indians are fools. People, get over this. The man is entitled to his opinion!


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