Ranjona Banerji: Time the media dumps Arnab Goswami!

19 Jan,2021

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Which is worse? Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami squeaking and leaking all over his Whatsapp chats, boasting about winning “like crazy” after 40 CRPF personnel were killed in Pulwama? Or Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin being pushed on to a population in spite of growing adverse effects and growing list of people advised NOT to take it by the company itself? This after we were promised the vaccine was 200 per cent safe which even I know with my severely constrained mathematics, is anomaly? Or China, or as Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to call it “No One”, encroaching into various parts of India which it claims as its own? I do not put it past the Modi government to claim No One’s village and road building efforts in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh as part of its “infrastructure development” promises. And I fully expect the Indian media to dance around those claims with pompoms.

As for Goswami’sWhatsapp chats with Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council, the biggest media leak since the Radia Tapes of 2011, the reactions have started. It’s been slow but Times Now has gone into “Goswami is a traitor” mode and other channels and media outlets have started basic coverage.

If you can remember though, the level of hysteria has not yet reached the Radia level. And do you wonder why?

Of course you don’t. We’ve all known about Goswami’s close relationship with NM and AS. Now we’ve seen for ourselves how often he refers to them. From orders to translate NM’s poems from Gujarati to concern about AS’s bad moods.

But set aside the whole “I know everyone important” and the Pulwama celebration messages for now. And concentrate on the media aspect of Goswami’s conversations with Dasgupta. There is open admission of working to manipulate viewership figures to push Republic TV ahead of its biggest competition, India Today and Times Now. There are open chats about using proximity to the Information & Broadcasting minister, at the time Smriti Irani, to get Republic TV’s work done. There are plans made to organise social media trolling on TV rivals.

Just these alone should have sent the media into a massive tantrum with legalities flying around! Even if it is generally accepted that ratings manipulation is widespread and universally murky, it’s not often you get as much fodder as this to play with. I remember earlier problems with print readership and circulation surveys having media house owners getting ballistic with each other. Take a look at the media now.

Goswami himself has apparently fled Mumbai to get away from the Mumbai police. He’s hiding somewhere in Delhi according to gossip, just like the massive-throated courageous creature he appears to be on TV screens. Okay, that was sarcasm. Like the cowering little lily-livered coward that he really is. Anyone remember his interviews with “NM” and Raj Thackeray?

There is one major difference though between the Radia Tapes and what is being called “#ArnabGate”. Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi who came out the worst in those tapes were journalists then and are journalists now.

Goswami stopped being a journalist ages ago. Part of his “chats” make it clear how he manipulated the death of Sushant Singh Rajput to push his ratings, including amplifying the toxicity of actress Kangana Ranaut.

Whether his important friends save him or not, the media needs to dump him where he belongs: a lesson in how not to be in journalism schools and on the trash heap of history.

 

 

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

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