Trump in India: News Or Entertainment?

21 Feb,2020

Amul’s topical take on the Trump visit


By Shailesh Kapoor


US President Donald Trump visits India for the first time early next week. And it’s going to be two days of absolute media frenzy. The news media, especially of the television variety, is perpetually looking for big news events, and this is one news event they didn’t see coming till very recently.


The media went ballistic when President Obama visited India in early 2015. But there was more statesmanship associated with that visit, given the stature and sophistication Obama brings with his persona. Trump is more unpredictable, in what he says and how he responds to situations, and that would definitely add more colour to this trip, no pun intended.


The build-up has already started. I found two stories on Trump’s limousine ‘The Beast’ while casually surfing news channels last night. There is much speculation already on the food that will served to the US President over the two days. One news anchor, in all seriousness, as if he was breaking the most important news of the year, informed his audience last night that Trump loves Diet Coke, but doesn’t drink tea, coffee or alcohol.


While the news media see these as opportunity to flex its reportage muscles, and get a good boost in their ratings, for the home-viewing audience, this is just another type of entertainment. An average Indian couldn’t care less about the supposed trade deal that India and US may sign in the near future. Instead, it will be the photo-ops, the food, the inevitable line or two Trump will utter in Hindi, and such nuggets that will excite the TV audience. You don’t trade your favorite soap or reality show with news for nothing. You do it for entertainment.


This normalisation of news content is a sign of the times we live in. Expect memes and more memes in your WhatsApp and on your social media feed, targeting all the protagonists involved: Trump, Modi and the media itself. Expect to be amused and irritated in equal measure.


I also have a theory that such events work as antidotes to the constantly-raging news anchors, who need that odd break from shrillness and outrage every now and then, purely for medical reasons, if not anything else. And they secretly know this too.


So, we are in for a fun ride. Let the entertainment begin!



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