Arnab Goswami recently violated all lines of journalism by attacking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on a live program of his channel. The belligerent news anchor calls his style of journalism a “new kind” but in reality, it is no journalism at all. Analyzing and DKODING Indian TV journalism’s — The Arnab Goswami Phenomenon.
In 2018, Arnab Goswami said in an interview to Gulf News that the allegation that he is biased towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is “an unverified complaint”. He claimed that his channel has always come up with robust criticism of the ruling party and that taking an anti position to any one party or outfit doesn’t suit his journalism which he called a “new kind”.
In that interview, Arnab Goswami also put across a point defending his variant of journalism and that was about targeting his “peers” who he felt still belonged to the old form of journalism and did not like him spearheading the change. In one stroke there, Goswami clearly laid down the ground rule: Indian journalism is essentially a tug-of-war between him and the rest.
Arnab Goswami, Indian journalism’s wrecker-in-chief
The Assam-born man’s so-called new form of journalism has been less of journalism and more about television activism. Unlike his former peers in NDTV like Prannoy Roy or Rajdeep Sardesai, Goswami was never a name that news-loving Indians were initially aware of. A nondescript starter in the field, Goswami was not a force as he later became during his stint with NDTV. It was in Times Now and particularly his primetime television debates that gave birth to a fierce form of ‘journalism’ that has gone all the way to not only downgrade India’s journalism but even pushed it to the edge.
After the man started Republic TV, the phenomenon of Arnab Goswami journalism has been perceived as something abnormal. People, who earlier hailed him as the ‘Robin Hood on screen’ who could run a trial and deliver justice in an hour, suddenly felt that he was overdoing it in his new venture.
And the outburst in the studio on the night of April 22 triggered the question: How far is it before Arnab Goswami finishes off journalism in India?
It is not that merchants of journalism in India other than Goswami have made it a sacred affair. Communal undercurrents have as seriously hit the field as it has the arena of politics. Ideological leanings combined with the vices of the era of post truth have claimed journalism as an easy prey. Objectivity —the soul of journalism — has been buried in the cacophony of half-truths or lies. Any quest to question one political colour invariably raises a counter-question: What’s your colour? The politics-journalism nexus emerged as such an evil that the media’s credibility has been washed away in a tsunami of public ridicule. The phenomenon is not limited to India but world over.
But yet, Arnab Goswami’s style of politics has broken all lines. The way he went after Congress leader Sonia Gandhi recently on communal lines, while taking the undue advantage of being the controller of the mic in a studio, it marked a humiliating chapter in the history of the once-noble profession in this country. A media outlet’s political bias is not something new that we are witnessing. Man has a subjective mind since time immemorial and journalists also belong to the same imperfect society that prevails on this planet. But the Republic TV’s editor-in-chief did not just keep it to a sophisticated bias but made it into a brazen political propaganda. Seeing his tantrums, one can’t help but ask: when is Goswami starting his political innings?
Mr. Arnab Goswami — please stop calling yourself a ‘journalist’
Perhaps the man tries to impress the dominant forces of the day keeping in calculation his own future. Not a bad thing to do particularly when politics has almost emerged as the biggest determinant of success in India’s public life. But Mr Goswami, shed your ‘journalist’ tag before indulging in such career-enhancing skills. A politically motivated fanatic or a middleman can still be spared if they stoop that low to score some points in the books of the political masters of the day. But a journalist doing it? No, not done.
The likes of Arnab Goswami are a reaction to the years of double-standards that India’s liberal school of journalism have followed. Around the world, the liberal schools and their supporters have been left battered because they overtried to be ‘politically correct’. But the counter media led by the Tucker Carlsons in the US and Goswami in India have started challenging them now. They have been bolstered by the fact that populist leaders who thrive on post-truth are dominating the socio-political and politico-cultural landscapes around the world. The traditional liberal media is not something they find compatible and that creates a space for the ‘new kind of journalism’ that Arnab Goswami promotes.
- There is a big market for this bellicose school even though it prioritizes noise over sanity, style over content. Screaming establishes truth under this pattern, not objective and balanced approaches that respect people’s dignity and privacy even while chasing them.
Whether Sonia Gandhi was deliberately quiet over Palghar murders is another story that demands a probe…
But attacking her in such a shameful way never proves that Goswami has better journalistic ethics than his peers. The act was unethical.
Arnab Goswami a product of the times and systems
The corporatization of media post liberalization and its solidifying nexus with the politically influential have also left journalism a caricature today. The play of big money and the interests of big corporates has turned the media today into a vehicle of the powerful to achieve ends. The play of the Hindutva sentiments and the disappointment and anger of a middle-class that is fed-up with the corruption and other failures in public life make it even enticing a tool for those who aim to raise TRPs and mint money by cashing in on the tyranny of the majority.
Arnab Goswami’s contribution to Indian journalism has so far encapsulated this downward spiral of the profession.
Watch: Al Jazeera English — Arnab Goswami has abandoned Journalism altogether
Arnab Goswami a brave journalist? Really?
Goswami’s style of journalism is not certainly one that speaks about bravery. His low tone while analyzing the controversial life of late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray made it very evident that he did not want to invite trouble by irking the Sena supporters while sitting in Mumbai. Also, while taking an interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few years ago —
Goswami’s approach was so hushed by his standards that many wondered whether he was in office with high fever that day.
Even when Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray once fought fire with fire with the man, he was defensive on more than one occasion.
And compare it with his interview of a clueless Rahul Gandhi at another time? The conclusion is crystal clear.
Therefore, the so-called journalist is not at all one who is bothered by injustice or evil. He just has to act to a pre-penned script so that his mediocre career doesn’t meet an untimely demise. The yelling and shouting has to go on so that the poisons of pseudo-nationalism keep on generating in the studio and people remain distracted by the trial by the media — be it against Pakistan, China, Congress, AAP or any other enemy erected by the TRP-mongers.
The elitified Indian media today is more of a 24X7 entertainment shop that needs actors in anchors who will serve as protagonists and pick up claps so that their business and political patrons feel happy and plan for a similar script the next day. This game is not too difficult to understand. It’s a successful business model that fools the common strugglers at homes and on roads day in and day out.
Journalism is irrelevent in this entire setup but Arnab Goswamis are NOT. Thats the tragedy.