Arnab Goswami – A Legend in His Own Mind?

22 Sep,2017


B​y Ranjona Banerji

What an incredible kerfuffle! In a speech he made a couple of years ago, TV anchor Arnab Goswami told a moving story about how he was attacked by riotous mobs carrying trishuls, close to the chief minister’s residence, while covering the Gujarat riots in 2002. Great story​,​ ​but one slight issue with it. The incident did happen. But it did not happen to Goswami. It happened to Rajdeep Sardesai and other colleagues at NDTV.

Sardesai put the video of Goswami’s speech up on Twitter, expressing surprise at Goswami’s story. The video was taken down and then put up again. Inevitably, minor spats broke out all over Twitter. An employee of Republic TV standing up for her boss, Goswami, posted a photograph where Goswami was part of the group covering the riots. This claim was quickly demolished by Goswami’s former colleagues – he was sent to Gujarat yes but to Kheda and a week after Sardesai’s car was attacked by a mob. The photo was taken later. Several colleagues from NDTV corroborated Sardesai’s assertion that Goswami was lying. Goswami was also defended, or rather Sardesai was attacked, by actor Anupam Kher who occasionally functions as a spokesperson for the government and now also apparently for Goswami.

What makes someone lie like this? In an article for DailyO, journalist Swati Chaturvedi called Goswami a “fantasist”. On an India Today TV show on the issue, lawyer Sanjay Hegde pointed out, tongue firmly in cheek, that everyone is entitled to be a “legend in their own minds”.

But what it comes to down to plain and simple is plagiarism. Writers steal words. Those who do not write, steal experiences. Goswami’s story had many personal touches which add verisimilitude – the fear of the driver who had no ID, Goswami’s preference to sit in the front of a car, the sound of the mob. This was a story he must have internalised until it became his own. Perhaps he really believes it happened to him. Maybe he wished it happened to him. Goswami is a studio creation. He was forgettable in his earlier jobs, whatever he did there. He came into his own thundering behind a desk at Times Now.

Perhaps however he still carries a torch for his non-existent days as an intrepid reporter, covering perilous ground and breaking earth-shattering stories. Since he does not have enough fireside chat experiences of his own, he has no option but to steal the experiences of others. Or maybe he was just borrowing this one: he was going to return it but he forgot: “I covered the riots but not this part that I wanted to cover. So I thought I’d just try your part for a bit to see what it felt like.”

Of all the roles that journalism offers you, reporting is only one of them. It is not too late for Goswami to become a reporter. He may find it suits him. But he must be more courageous than he has been in the past. Even recently, during one of Mumbai’s super-rainy days, he did not venture very far from his office and stood under a flyover on Tulsi Pipe Road with an umbrella. That is not proper reporting. Nor is going to Milan ​Subway in Santa Cruz.

He can instead prowl the countryside of Raigad to find any more clues in Sheena Bora’s murder. It may be more dramatic to go at night. And not wear a suit while he does it, although that can be his signature move. He might also lurk around the Leela Palace hotel in Delhi and solve the Sunanda Pushkar case all by himself.

But let us get down to brasstacks. What Goswami did is not excusable. He stole an experience to make himself look bigger and braver. All it has done is make him look smaller and sillier.

It has been a while since Goswami stopped practising any type or form of journalism. If he wants to make a comeback, I am not sure that stealing someone else’s experience is the right way to go about it.

But who knows. This is the “new India”. Anything is possible.


Meanwhile, it is terrible that one more journalist was brutally killed, this time in the line of duty. Santanu Bhowmick was covering a protest in Tripura when he was abducted and hacked to death by political elements at the rally. This has sadly become all too common – to kill journalists in an attempt to silence the media. Appalling, unacceptable.


​Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are personal​


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4 responses to “Arnab Goswami – A Legend in His Own Mind?”

  1. Indian1970 says:

    a very petty article. Rajana does not become great by trying to belittle Arnab . you are and will remain a piece of secular shit.

    • Priya George says:

      The fact that you use ‘secular’, one of the most profound principles of the pluralistic nation state, as an insult or a curse word, shows how misguided and truly lost you are. Why are you defending Arab when he doesn’t give a damn about you, the truth, or basic human decency? What are you so fearful of? Do you really believe Muslims are around every corner trying to terrorise you? Will feminist women refuse to sleep with you? Are you worried that you lack training and so any smart Dalit might come and take your job? These are all truly worrying, I know, but the answer lies in respectful dialogue, education and compromise, not in unleashing a hellfire of rage upon everyone except ‘your kind’.

      • Indian1970 says:

        Things become profound by practice and not by preaching. Secularism as practiced in India is big time hypocrisy. Also you know nothing about me and doing psycho diagnosis as if you are Sigmund Freud.

        Arnab is a fine journalist and has better standards than those who have appointed themselves as repository of all that is virtuous in this world. I hate preachiness of secular people for I know what they practice everyday.Arnab need not pay me to defend him as I am sure gauri lankes
        h did not pay you to defend her.

  2. Derek Bose says:

    Arnab had it coming. He had grown too big for his boots, fooling everybody for far too long, pretending to be a journalist and it need a Rajdeep Sardesai to show him his place — a petty cheat, an imposter. As rightly pointed out, what Arnab has done is inexcusable. –Derek Bose

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