Ranjona Banerji: Right or not, Arnab Goswami?

25 Jul,2014

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The jury was in when it came to Arnab Goswami’s political affiliations. And now it’s out again. For a good part of this week, Goswami and Times Now have taken great affront to the behaviour of the Shiv Sena MPs who forced a Muslim fasting for Ramzan to eat a chapati, then to BJP MP K Laxman’s comments on tennis star Sania Mirza being unfit to be brand ambassador for Telangana and finally Goa minister Deepak Dhavilkar of the BJP’s alliance partner Maharashtra Gomantak Party declaring that Narendra Modi will make India a Hindu state. Times Now and Goswami are tagging these comments “#RightWingFreeRun” and claiming that they go against the BJP/NDA promise of an inclusive India.

 

Comments on social media are now asking whether Goswami was really as rightwing as he appeared to be when the BJP and Narendra Modi were sworn in to power. Perhaps he is behaving like a journalist again and attacking the establishment. Or perhaps he realised that hero worship can go so far and no further. Or perhaps he still tilts towards the BJP in his personal capacity but feels that this sectarian and divisive behaviour is unacceptable. Since nobody knows, perhaps Goswami as India’s best known TV journalist, needs to start writing a column so his fan club knows what he thinks?

 

Alternatively, as I have long felt, he needs to give himself an hour-long programme where he and only he speaks. This could be a weekly affair like FDR’s fireside chats to the American nation. The prime minister doesn’t speak in spite of slamming the last prime minister for not speaking so it might as well be Goswami leading the nation. There is one more option: a nightly rant in front of a studio audience on the lines of Howard Beale in the brilliant 1976 classic media film, Network. We shall ignore for now the end of the movie.

 

**

 

The media has played the Shiv Sena MPs issue in two ways. Times Now has seen the Sena’s actions are being distinctly communal since the man who was fed the chapatti clearly says that he is a Muslim fasting for Ramzan, says the channel, and he also had a name tag reading “Arshad” on his uniform. Other channels like NDTV wondered whether we should not concentrate on the Sena’s hooligan-like behaviour: forcing anyone to eat as a protest shows not just disrespect to another human being but is also conduct unbecoming. Members of Parliament should deport themselves in a more dignified manner.

 

It is possible however that both points of view are correct. MPs must behave properly and forcing a person fasting for religious reasons to eat is communal. If Arshad had been a Hindu fasting for some reason, forcefeeding him would also be communal.

 

**

 

Meanwhile, former Supreme Court justice Markandey Katju’s allegations against the UPA and three Supreme Court chief justices over the appointment of a judge accused of corruption by an IB report has gone off TV and towards edit page land. The issue will now be forgotten.

 

Katju, who made great waves with his off the cuff remarks when he became chairman of the Press Council of India, has done absolutely nothing ever since and was therefore out of the news. He found a way to get back in but alas, events overtook him.

 

What did happen though to all those changes he was going to bring to the Indian media?

 

**

 

The Hindu, from being India’s most venerable newspaper, has lately found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons. Family squabbles, high profile editorial sackings, strict vegetarian rules all over the premises and confusion over its political stance. The most recent fracas has been the removal of editors like P Sainath and Praveen Swamy. Working at The Hindu is like working for Pol Pot apparently said one resignation letter. The Hindu’s explanation: These two did not fit their roles. Indeed.

 

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3 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: Right or not, Arnab Goswami?”

  1. aayeff says:

    Arnab’s panel “discussions” on Nowhour quickly degenerates to a shouting match. No on listens. Arnab himself shouts the most. His words are rude, taunting and humiliating. He barks words most
    would hesitate to use privately. Expressions like “you have no shame”, “your behaviour was disgusting” are common. The misbehaviour is pathological. Which school of journalism teaches this?

    Even if a panelist was a real criminal, he/she cannot be humiliated. Punished under law for the crime. Yes. But humiliated on TV. No!

    Often Arnab and his team (all of them ape him) appear visibly biased. Their interventions disclose one-sidedness. They throw in an occasional contra-remark to prove equi-distance. But it easy to see through this veil. Particular panelists are targets and constantly needled, taunted, shut-up and reminded and others are encouraged. This derails the discussion. It is never a discussion and never moves away from blame, criticism and very loud
    cross-shouting. Apparently Newshour is not discussion but some form of entertainment and drama.

    Perhaps the belief is, TRPs are zooming because of their quality production and it helps the Nation. A large following doesn’t mean it helps. We have seen outstanding examples of massive following
    for some people which soon fizzled out and has actually done the nation a disservice.

    The TRPs are not Arnab’s or TIMES NOW making. Lets face it, baying for political blood and public flagellation of political parties daily makes the otherwise helpless viewer feel good. Here at last is someone who finally punishes these blokes. The ‘proxy revenge” through harsh words and an acid tongue of a TV anchor is great revenge for the viewers. It’s a vent to the masses frustrated by a daily dose of corruption, bad roads, high taxes, inflation, etc. Much like the drama in Saas-Bahu serials.

    Does Newshour produce good discussions which helps the nation? I honestly don’t think so. It creates more rivalry with groups becoming more stubbornly fixed to their positions by brings on anger,
    bitterness and blame. Solutions are almost never reached or agreed.

    Another point is, why still this attention for Congress? Today, its the BJP-NDA governing. They have to deliver. Why point out to Congress non-performance now? NDA performance should not be measured relatively but in absolute terms.

    Bringing Congress into discussions distracts and allows the Government to questions. When questioning those in power, journalists should avoid comparisons. Otherwise the answer is elusive. We get a Government measuring to a Lowest Common Denominator.

    Congress is not in power. They don’t have to answer any questions on performance now. However they can ask questions. Even if their
    performance was not upto people expectations. Its precisely why they are not in power now.

    It is difficult to believe that the TV anchors and Arnab is dumb. But I see him everyday asking questions to Congress who are not in Government. They obviously didn’t do well and precisely
    for this they are OUT. I can’t understand why someone who shouts hoarse about ethics is not able to see this?

  2. Guest says:

    Justice Katju called on the I & B minister, letting on that he would wish to continue serving the nation in his own little way, so could he kindly be given a second term. Not having met with an effusive response, he thought he might do something more forceful to show his utility.

  3. Victor says:

    Comments only on your last comment on THE HINDU .

    1.] The Hindu is not the only newspaper to have family squabbles . Deccan Herald , Indian Express group , Dinamalar group , Bhaskar , NavaBharat or is it Nayi Bharat group in Madya Pradesh and many others like Deccan Chronicle have also faced the same music .

    2.] The Hindu is not the only one to sack its editor who is outside the family . N.Ram the present chairman of Kasturi and sons and N.Ravi its current editor in Chief and Malini Parthasarathy ,its current editor had themselves been earlier sacked by the same family .

    Also , Arun Shorie , V.K.Narasimhan famous editors of undivided INDIAN EXPRESS , M.J.Akbar , editor in chief of Deccan Chronicle and founder / editor of Asian age were also sacked .

    Also , may be how Kushwant Singh and Verghese once editors of HINDUSTAN TIMES were removed overnight is forgotten now .

    3.] Many newspaper groups like TIMES OF INDIA, HINDUSTAN TIMES , INDIAN EXPRESS and other major and minor Hindi / regional newspaper groups have even stricter ONLY VEGETARIAN menu rule where even garlic , onion , potato are not allowed .

    Newspaper managements are not bound by any rules to offer quality food in their premises at low price . What to give or not to give is their prerogative . How outsiders not working in the newspapers have got any right to question about these in house policies .

    4.] Just because , they are famous journalists , it does not mean they have their rights for all their articles to be published in the newspapers they work for . It is the editors prerogative .

    Right or wrong , even N.RAM / Chitra Subramaniam had to see their important stories on Bofors spiked by the then famous editor of THE HINDU .

    5.] Not every one has forgotten , how the famous editors of TIMES OF INDIA like Sham Lal and Girilal Jain were treated in the last decade of 20th century and they are still green in every journalists’ mind .

    6.] How Vinod Mehta was forced to go as editor of INDIAN POST or some other newspaper of BCCL is still in everyone’s memory .

    7.] How a famous editor was shown the door by its director in THE STATESMAN is now almost forgotten . I forgot their names .

    8.] How even some editors of now defunct National Herald of Nehru family were treated is also forgotten .

    But some how or other when some thing happens at THE HINDU , the news is blown out of proportion . Why , why ?