Ranjona Banerji: All not going well for the Lords and Masters

08 Jan,2019

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Check the date. It’s not April. It’s the beginning of 2019. But, it’s a beginning to a year when the media in India realises that all is not going well for its Lords and Masters. That the big giant balloon many of my journalist colleagues floated in 2013 is no longer lording it over the skies. There are few options ahead of them: Buy sticky tape and plaster it to any holes in the balloon (loyalty) or let go of the string (opportunism).

We’ll start with this most “ossum” letter written by several Zee News editors to Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The owner of the Zee stable, Subhash Chandra is an unabashed fan of the RSS and often talks about attending RSS meetings in his youth. He is now a Rajya Sabha MP, elected with the help of the BJP. Zee’s rightward political leanings are well known as are the question marks over the journalistic credibility over many of its senior editors.

So why did six of these editors write a letter to Rahul Gandhi this week explaining the Zee News stand and asking that party spokespersons take part in their debates with “facts” and not accuse its journalists of anything? The letter is nothing short of absurd. It tries to be arrogant to cover up its weird intent and fails at both.

The explanation of Zee’s “philosophy” exposes it is as being, if you like anti-India and the Indian Constitution since it harks back to some imaginary past which the channel is trying to promote. Why it wants to do this through its news channels is anyone’s guess. A few good TV serials would do the trick. Having worked with DNA for a short while after Chandra pulled a coup on the Agarwals of Dainik Bhaskar, and sat through some interminably boring “workshops”, one has a fair idea of where this “philosophy” comes from.

The letter starts with saying that Zee knows no introduction and then goes on to offer one. This contradiction in intention and logic continues. Zee says it fosters the idea of “Bharat” but not “India” which is full of “rich/ elitist /pseudo liberalists”. Zee has no truck with the rich, so too bad all you business houses and MNCs which might advertise with Zee.

I say, if the Congress Party wants to have nothing to do with you or its anchors don’t follow some plan you have, then why beg for their attention? Unless Zee thinks that its balloon is in trouble in mid-2019 and is looking to float a couple of others? O my.

And then there’s Arnab Goswami and Republic TV. From the time Goswami quit or was made to quit Times Now and started Republic TV with Rajeev Chandrashekhar, industrialist and BJP MP, the nation has been in no doubt at all about Republic TV’s political leanings: the BJP balloon all the way, rah rah rah!

Obviously then, viewers of this channel were shocked on Sunday night when Goswami tore into the BJP’s Sudanshu Trivedi for the lies told by the BJP, and then ran through a list of them, starting with Vasundhara Raje’s signature on an affidavit for Lalit Modi to sharing fake videos in West Bengal. “Will you take responsibility later if there’s a riot later because of this lie? No. You take great pleasure in spreading lies,” he thundered.

What on earth is going on here? The mind boggles.

Arnab Goswami’s unthinkable act, accuses BJP of promoting politics of lies, triggers speculation of ‘jumping ship’

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That only leaves Times Now and its incredible team of Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar to find new balloons to play with.

Pop goes the weasel? Loyalty or opportunism?

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

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