One of the many reasons Arnab Goswami’s response to the criticism of his interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unprecedented is that for the first time, Arnab felt the need to issue a personal reply. Usually, Times Now exists in its own little world.
In the Times Now universe, other news organisations revolve around Times Now. Their only reason for existence is to supplement the reporting done by Times Now. To them, only Times Now breaks all the stories that matter. They’d like you to believe that Times Now is the only news organisation asking the right questions. They pretend that it’s the only channel that doesn’t have an agenda. All the information required by a viewer of Times Now can be had from the channel itself. No need to watch or read anything else.
Times Now functions less like a news organisation and more like a cult dedicated to Arnab Goswami, the Dear Leader of Indian news. That is why his army of reporters were out in full force on social media defending their one true god against any and all criticism. Remember, the chosen one can never do anything wrong. The only reason he is being mocked is because the others are jealous of him. They will never have his voice or his brains or his success. The only reason they go after him is to bring him down.
Arnab and other members of his cult tried to dismiss the backlash as pushback from Lutyens’ loyalists but even they know that is not the truth. People did not criticise him because they wanted him to be disrespectful to the prime minister. No sane person would want or expect him to yell at an elected representative of the public. You can be respectful and still ask less brown-nosing questions like: Are you being held back from being completely and totally awesome?
Arnab the character
However, the fact that the self-proclaimed voice of a billion people felt the need to climb down from his heavenly abode to chatter with us mere mortals means that the universal panning his interview received did really disturb him. Like every other megalomaniac who pretends to never be bothered by external brickbats, he too is quite sensitive to them.
The character Arnab plays on the Times Now Newshour – and it is a character – is based on the myth that he speaks truth to power. That’s his whole shtick! It doesn’t matter to him who the recipient of his rant is! It doesn’t matter to him how uncomfortable his show makes the people in power. It doesn’t matter if he upsets the delicate sensibilities of the populace. The truth shall prevail, Monday to Friday, at 9 pm, only on your channel.
Yet, the minute the voice of the nation came face-to-face with actual, unadulterated power, it turned subservient. The voice went from being tough and assertive to timid and submissive. The man who isn’t afraid to call a spade an anti-national couldn’t even sustain short periods of eye contact with power.
Power will always look for the easy way out. Power doesn’t want to be questioned; power wants to be obeyed. Power doesn’t look at those bowing down to it as someone they need to favour. Power only wants to use them to serve its own end. Once power has no use for you, it will discard you and forget that you ever existed.
In the story of the Wizard of Oz, when the curtain falls, the grand wizard who claims to be capable of great, magical feats is revealed to be an ordinary man who is in over his head.
Yes, Arnab will still command the “best ratings” out of all the other news channels. He will still have an inordinately loud voice in determining our national discourse. He will still be the Jupiter to the other news channels’ Pluto. In a few days, people will move on and forget this incident along with this silly article.
But, at 9 pm on June 27, the curtain was lifted, and it was revealed that a man who claimed to be capable of great, magical feats was just another ordinary man who is in over his head.
And no amount of backtracking and explanations will ever change that.