Recently, a video started circulating on the internet of the bygone era actress Kareena Kapoor interviewing another ‘has-been’ Barkha Dutt. In the video, Kareena was seen asking Barkha about the worst journalistic interview she had ever seen. Her reply was obvious: “Arnab” and then she started the usual rant about his journalism. Being ardent viewer of Arnab Goswami, this video made my heart palpitate with just one question, “Who the hell is Barkha Dutt to certify Arnab and his journalistic ability?”
This video compelled me to write this piece. My article discusses two major ‘flaws’ which some journalists point out in Arnab Goswami. It also shows the mirror to all those and especially Barkha Dutt who constantly try to condescend him as if he seeks their validation.
To begin with, let’s start with the apparently scripted interview itself. Barkha Dutt said, “I think what Mr. Goswami has been doing has brought enormous shame to the journalism that I believe in. It is about bringing journalism down to a level where it is unrecognisable.”
I just want to ask her a simple question. What good has she done to this sacred profession?
Does being complimented by Hafiz Saeed find a place in her résumé?
Dutt was caught red handed fixing ministerial berths in the Nira Radia tapes. Are such shameful acts considered milestones in one’s journalistic career?
Does implicitly revealing Indian military positions to Pakistan during the Kargil war by reporting from our frontline installations make her a gem to the fourth estate of democracy?
Does reporting live from outside the Taj Hotel during the 26/11 attacks and helping the terrorist handlers with live updates get categorised as good journalism?
Barkha Dutt has even justified the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits! How low could she fall more?
Well, if she believes in such brand of reportage, my support for Arnab Goswami, as an honest Indian shall grow exponentially manifold.
Same is the case for many other anchors too. Some, who have built their career only around the 2002 Gujarat riots and have tried to use the 2001 Parliament attacks for exclusive stories lecture Arnab on journalism. Another one, who does an hourlong monologue on “primetime” which virtually no one watches cannot even stand a miniscule thing which Arnab does!
This Lutyens’ high table which has been decorated with Padma awards by a previous government for no concrete reason keeps on giving unsolicited advice to Arnab Goswami, as if he cares!
Moving into the specifics, a typical complaint of the same frustrated people against Arnab is that he shouts too much.
So, what has he got to say about this allegation? Arnab proudly says, “Yes, I do and I shout to be heard. In this country, if you do not shout, then you won’t be heard”.
Let me state a straightforward fact here to justify his defence. In 2010, there were 22 news channels and 82237 registered newspapers pan India. Yet, barring two viz. Bofors and Harshad Mehta, the media could not even break a single major scam of independent India.
Interestingly, the Harshad Mehta scam was also broken out of vested interests as the journalists concerned ignored other brokers who were using the same loopholes of our system and blindly went after a single person.
Coming back, it was only Arnab’s Times Now in mid-2010 that exposed the Common Wealth Games scandal. It became the first News Channel to break the shackles which other news organisations had imposed upon themselves and garnered humongous public support.
During this period, his aggressive style of reporting brought Suresh Kalmadi, the President of Indian Olympic Association on the mat and demanded answers from him. The alleged beacons of journalism, instead of accosting the tainted politician were busy conducting cosy interviews with him. Shameful… right?
After the CWG scam, Arnab and his team went for the jugular and broke a litany of murky scams like 2G, Devas ISRO, Kargil for Profit (Aadarsh Scam), Vyapam and what not.
It was his style of reporting that coerced A Raja to quit during the 2G case trial. Arnab didn’t spare Ashok Chavan in the Kargil for Profit scam and made him resign as well.
In a press conference held at 7 RCR in 2011, only one editor out of twenty-six questioned PM Manmohan Singh on corruption. That editor was Arnab. It looks bizarre that at a time when the whole nation was jostling with corruption, media big shots were asking rosy questions to the Prime Minister!
In 2017, only Arnab Goswami had the audacity to put out jailed politician Lalu Prasad Yadav’s phone conversations with a gangster. No media house questioned the RJD. Not even one. All became ostriches at that point of time and buried their heads in sand. It was only Arnab and his team who shouted in TV studios to elicit a response from Lalu’s party.
Another event which comes to my mind while writing on this subject is Republic TV’s sting operation on an ISIS man- Abdul Basit in 2017. It was for the first time that anyone on record proved the presence of ISIS on Indian soil. Arnab and team ran an implacable campaign after which the terrorist was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). A section of the media which tries to portray itself as the most fearless and impactful each day didn’t even dare to pursue the story then.
All these cases might not have been pursued in the courts of law but they were adjudicated in the courts of public opinion.
I have numerous examples of him confronting and doing the unthinkable but I feel the above-mentioned impact laden stories are enough to buttress his stand.
Now, coming to the most cliché and cardinal accusation on him, “He is a BJP bhakt!”
I, having followed him for a large amount of time now can easily disabuse this claim. Media personalities and intellectuals calling him a paid agent of the BJP have either no clue of his content or are bound by professional rivalry. In order to factually rebut this argument, I present before you, a list of debates between 26th June and 29th July 2020 in which he smashed the saffron party black and blue.
I, myself have noted down these points after thoroughly watching him for a month to blast the claims of he being a puppet of the BJP and anyone can corroborate the debates mentioned here from YouTube.
Moving on, most of the people reading this might not know that in 2015, Arnab Goswami broke a story called Lalit-Gate. In that story, he exposed the nexus between the late Sushma Swaraj’s kin and fugitive Lalit Modi. He demanded her resignation then and relentlessly run a campaign for the same.
The extreme anti BJP anchors which vilify the party on every small matter, inexplicably kept mum even then. This implicit silence of theirs forces me to think, was there a closed-door deal between the page 3 journalists and the BJP then?
Apprehensions apart, as far as I can reminisce, here is a list of matters where Arnab Goswami has gone hammer and tongs against the BJP in the past few years:
- Nirav modi
- Inaction on china goods
- Defence budget cut in 2018
- Lalit gate
- Fuel price
- Bjp PDP alliance
- Budget interviews
- Sadhvi Pragya
- Yogi communal statements
- Beef ban
- Up bypolls
- Ajit Pawar joining hands with the BJP
- VVIP racism (series of different events over the years)
- BJp inducting corrupt leaders
- Padmavati riots
- 2G verdict
- National anthem debate
- Devendra Fadnavis
- Ajay Pandita
- Kapil Mishra (anti CAA)
- Inaction against Iqbal Mirchi links
- India becoming a single party country
- Gopal Kanda
- Gurmeet Ram Rahim
- MPs on sale
- Politicising the army
- Giving permission for Kumaraswamy’s son’s wedding
- Lenin’s statue desecration
- Budget Debates
- Yes Bank crisis
- PMC Bank
- Bihar floods
- Bihar shelter home cases
- Mumbai floods
- Nitish kumar sting operation
- Inaction on Tablighi Jamaat
- Inaction on Sunanda Pushkar’s death case
- RTI on political parties
These facts and figures do not point towards Arnab Goswami’s neutrality. On the contrary, they try to convey that he has the ability to take on anyone and everyone in the political spectrum when he feels so unlike most others.
On reading this, some individuals might even say that he has not debated as much on the BJP as he has done on other parties but I further argue that criticising a political party just for the sake of it makes no sense. Journalism is not just about vilification all the time.
The bigger picture!
In all, what irks these status quoistic journalists so much that they bring about such futile topics and crib about Arnab all day and night?
The answer to this is simple- “Viewership and Success”. Arnab’s channel has been numero uno since the day of its launch. Its market cap has surged day by day, month by month and year on year. He is unstoppable.
The people of India have rejected the hypocritical liar wires, the four-lettered money heisting channels and even newspapers which publish Chinese propaganda. Whether the audience agrees to Arnab every time or not is a matter of parley, but the majority subscribe to his way of debate and the TRP data proves it.
Moreover, Arnab Goswami hails from a middle-class family and he has been ruling the media business for more than a decade now. The elite from New Delhi cannot digest this fact. Arnab’s success churns their guts out and his name is itself a nightmare for them. This chauvinistic approach of the Lutyens’ lobby has made them irrelevant and they have dug their own grave in the wake of defaming him.
Arnab has the ability to influence the public- the exact job which a responsible media person should have in a democracy.
Just like any other human, Arnab must have committed mistakes in his professional career as well. He might not have picked up right stories at the right time or might have even ignored a few, but he has never been capricious with his stand on issues all these years.
Unlike a few who write sell-out pieces in the New York Times, cry wolf on secularism and amplify certain politicians’ bizarre rhetoric, Arnab Goswami has always spoken about the Idea of India what should be done to protect it from such vultures.
Believe it or not, Arnab Goswami has brought a paradigm shift in the way news is shown in India. He has successfully changed its assertive character into an imperative and impactful one.
Each evening, he comes back in his studio, miked up, perfectly dressed, with the same fervour and the same passion for news. Be it a sore-throat or a fractured hand, he hardly spends a day without facing the camera. These virtues do not come with the aegis of any political party. They come from within, with ‘conscience’ being the driving force.
Having said all this, I rest my case.
About the Author
Divyam Shah is a Chemical Engineering student from Mumbai who has a penchant for writing. Apart from academics, he takes keen interest in news, politics, and defence. On a lighter note, Divyam is a lefty but certainly not a leftist.