The mere whiff of war appears to have tripped a switch in many Indian newsrooms.
Some have decided that it is their job to attack the enemy by referring to India's neighbour as "terror state Pakistan" – even if the Indian government has yet to make such a decision.
Others decided to give their nightly news panels a military infusion. This meant that evening news shows that were already bellicose about everything from a BBC documentary on crimes against women in India to Pakistani actors now included the sort of military advice that doesn't flinch from calling for all-out war, including the nuclear option, as this Newslaundry mashup made evident.
India Today went even further, actually building a little diorama for its anchors to stand around and play with while imagining what war actually looks like.
CNN-News18 broadcast a story where its reporter impersonated a Pakistani police officer for the sake of getting evidence about the surgical strikes – attacks last week by the Indian Army on terror launchpads along the Line of Control that it claims caused "significant casualties" to militants.
The Indian government, beyond a statement by the Indian Army, has itself not put out evidence regarding the strikes, yet the word of a police officer from the across the border was taken as conclusive proof of the incidents. (There was no word as to how the Indian media or government might react if Pakistani journalists impersonated Indian police officers in pursuit of a story).
In between all of this CNN-News18 and TimesNow had little border skirmishes of their own.
And as always, TimesNow's Arnab Goswami took the cake. Not content with turning his guns on a) the Pakistani army, b) the Pakistani government, c) Pakistani actors, d) Pakistani pigeons, e) Indians who support Pakistani actors and d) Indians who don't agree with him, Goswami managed to find a new target: the foreign media.
When a panelist pointed out that foreign media were questioning whether India's surgical strikes even happened, Goswami decided that he ought to target the messenger.
"Who the hell is CNN and BBC? Is the Indian Army accountable to CNN and BBC? I haven’t heard anything more ridiculous.” Later, he even added a more specific critique of these organisations, calling one CNN report on doubts about the surgical strikes, “childish, amateurish, poorly scripted, horribly presented".
Elsewhere within the Times Group, a slightly different note was being struck.
Jain is the Managing Director of the Times of India Group, which owns Arnab Goswami's TimesNow, and this difference in lines is actually the most interesting of the various media war room developments.
The company has, time and again, insisted that it is "federal in structure", allowing different arms of the group to take different views, and yet the vehemence of Goswami's commentary still makes the contrast in editorial lines rather remarkable.
To illustrate, here's Goswami's take on boycotting Pakistani stars.
"Can you have business as usual with Pakistan when they have opened their fangs, killed our soldiers and bled our fellow citizens day after day every year for 25 years? Can you wine and dine on the seminar circuit and expect these five-star armchair activists to change the way the IS thinks? Is this lobby that preaches people-to-people contact – I don't know what that means – not aware that it is exactly these so-called people-to-people contact that makes us looks soft and compromised?"
The next night it got even more vehement.
"What would Salman Khan and the pro-Pakistani lobby say to the families of the 19 soldiers? ... At the least he and the pro-Pakistani star lobby should realise it is not being human to turn a blind eye to Hafiz Saeed, it's not being human to therefore indirectly endorse the activities of Syed Salahuddin and that holding an Indian visa does not give any Pakistani a right to pretend to be mute when our soldiers are being killed on the border day-after-day."
The leeway the Times Group gives to its employees really is remarkable in a country where few are free to criticise their bosses. Indeed, the independence afforded to the TimesNow's newsroom to take its own line – even if that means calling the group's MD a member of a hypocritical, five-star armchair activist lobby – is something journalists everywhere should applaud, even if they're not clapping about anything else Goswami says.
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