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Over the past few weeks, there has been a concentrated campaign to “take down” one of the pillars of our democracy. A huge conspiracy involving ersatz activists, shoddy journalists, recreant writers, perfidious lawyers, seditious communists and other bottom-feeding anti-national entities to use all the power and resources at their disposal to spread false propaganda against the only man in the country brave enough to speak the truth in public.
They’ve tried every trick in the book: open letters, twitter hashtags, online petitions. Their latest salvo was a hastily put together cover story in Outlook magazine, in which people who claim to be “reporters” told us that Arnab Goswami is loud, brash, yells at people, and doesn’t let his guests get in a word edgewise. Yeah, great scoop there, Bernstein. Can’t wait to read your next "exclusive" about how Rahul Gandhi is incompetent, aloof and has terrible political instincts. Totally not hypocritical for a magazine whose last great idea was putting Barack Obama on its cover with the same condescending headline that an American magazine had used for the Indian Prime Minister the previous week to accuse other people of pandering to the lowest denominator.
The Lone Ranger
Now, I realise that defending Arnab on the internet these days is like defending casual dating at a meeting of the Khap Panchayat, but if there is anything that I’ve learned from watching the Newshour it’s that one doesn’t do things because they’re easy. One does them because of one’s compulsive need to insert oneself into every story.
Plus Arnab doesn’t have anyone speaking out on his behalf against this relentless onslaught. He has no one in his corner! Except a huge media conglomerate, one of the country’s leading PR firms (who, for the record, did not approach me to stress the importance of writing this piece), and the highest-rated teevee show in the history of the world (*among the legally deaf, old people who cannot figure out how to use the remote on their set top box, hospital wards where they’re trying to wake up coma patients with experimental shock therapy and NRIs).
Here’s the thing: Arnab Goswami is very good at his job. The best, possibly. Arnab is to anchoring a teevee show what MS Dhoni is to the Indian cricket team: a talented man who uses all his politicking skills to make sure no potential challenger in his team sticks around long enough to threaten his pre-eminent position. Wait, that doesn’t sound right! Arnab is to anchoring a teevee show what Narendra Modi is to politics: a megalomaniac conspiracy theorist who constantly needs to give his rabid base a new straw man to howl at so that he can pretend to protect them from this latest enemy of the state. No, that doesn’t sound right either. Let’s try it one more time! Arnab is to anchoring a teevee show what Salman Khan is to making a movie: a raving lunatic who cons the brainwashed masses into giving him a whole lot of money for doing the same thing day in and day out. Dammit! Okay, fine. I give up!
Are You Not Entertained?
The biggest mistake people make is blaming Arnab Goswami for the death of Indian journalism. Mostly because they make the presumption that what Arnab Goswami does is journalism. Have any of these heathens who make such a false claim even seen an episode of Arnab’s show? He doesn’t do journalism! He does entertainment. Arnab doesn’t need to go hiking on some godforsaken war and nosh on the soldiers’ limited rations to make his name. Arnab goes to war . . . everyday. In his studio. He has yelled at more Pakistani generals than the civilian leaders of that country.
Claiming Arnab killed Indian journalism is like blaming those violinists for sinking the Titanic. The ship of Indian journalism was headed for disaster from the beginning. All Arnab is trying to do is make everyone on that vessel feel a little better about themselves before they disappear into oblivion.
If you’re the sort of person who thinks that they’re going to get their news and information about events around the world from a channel that used a pun in the hashtag that describes its coverage of a serious domestic violence incident, then that says more about you than the channel you’re watching. Do you think a real newscast would take credit for the number of tweets it can trend? What sort of maniac looks at the train wreck that is news television in India and thinks, “This is a great way to keep myself informed.” Teevee news in India is like dinner theatre: a cheap production of a Shakespearean tragedy unwittingly played out everyday by terrible actors who have nothing better to occupy themselves with.
In Goswami We Trust
Arnab isn’t a villain. He’s a hero. While other people pretend to hold nuanced views about various issues, he doesn’t bother to pander to reasonableness. He puts himself out there, glib views and everything! While other teevee anchors try to hold pretensions of neutrality, Arnab shamelessly displays which side his bread is buttered on every night.
Do you know what I admire the most about Arnab, though? Other anchors may sometimes in a moment of weakness, ask the question whether what they do for a living is perhaps more harmful than useful. But not Mr Goswami! He knows that reflection is for the weak. He never even allows himself even a second of doubt. Because he knows that doubting himself is like doubting the nation and NO ONE DARE DOUBT THE NATION. NOT ON HIS WATCH.
You may not care for him, but Arnab is always there for me. Every night, he rakes over the events of the day so as to tell me whomto blame for the problems that besiege me. He shouts at everyone who has wronged me so that I can feel better about myself. He sucks out all the anger from my body so that I can go to bed relieved, spent and satiated.
Arnab and I, we're changing the world. One crudely crafted hashtag at a time.
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