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In many ways, Arnab Goswami is a baby Donald Trump.

You must have been struck by the resemblance while watching the first US presidential debate, Wednesday morning, when the US President, by turns domineering and demeaning, ranted, bullied and mocked his Democratic opponent Joe Biden while repeatedly, interrupting him, brusquely, so that he couldn’t complete his sentences. Then, Trump repeatedly fired questions at the former vice-president, in the single-minded pursuit of his own agenda – think the theory of fraud ballots and mail-in voting ballots.

Isn’t that exactly what Goswami (Republic TV) and his memes like Amish Devgan (News 18 India) or Deepak Chaurasia (News Nation) do on their prime time shows? Goswami rages and roars, derides and dismisses those who disagree with him as he hunts down his target — just like Trump tried to ambush Biden on his son Hunter.

Trump and anchors like Goswami are reality TV show stars who live in their own Bigg Boss bubble, cut off from the world beyond their own horizons.

For the last 110-odd days, Goswami and his Republic TV, along with almost every other Hindi and English news channel and their leading anchors, have pursued #JusticeForSushant wherever it took them with unwavering 24×7 determination.

Nothing could distract them in this ambition– watch them stalk Deepika Padukone, stake out her house and then laughably lose track of her before they caught up with her again, entering the office of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai.

Also read: Indians are done with Arnab, Rajdeep and Anjana. Prefer MSD, Kohli and IPL over TV news drug

TV’s short break from Sushant

Nothing could get them return to real breaking news: not the coronavirus (what’s that?), not the Chinese on our mountain tops, not Parliament, not the Akali Dal desertion of the Modi government, not the farmers’ protests, which only momentarily diverted them, not even the unspeakable murder of a 20-year-old girl after she had been allegedly gangraped and maimed — until it was too late. The ‘Campaign for justice’ launched by Times Now for the Hathras victim, came a fortnight after she was assaulted and only when she was shifted to Safdarjang Hospital in Delhi, Monday.

Even that was a difficult act to perform. On Wednesday, hours following her “midnight forceful cremation” (Times Now), channels like CNN News 18, which has suddenly become lurid and sensational, Republic TV and Times Now went back to Sushant Singh Rajput — boasting they had obtained exclusive rights to the AIIMS’ forensic report on the actor’s death.

On Tuesday, when the young woman died at the hospital, they spent most of the day proclaiming that the AIIMS report and the CBI “did not rule out homicide” (CNN News 18) in Rajput’s death — which is actually the same as saying ‘they didn’t rule out suicide either’. But that’s not a headline that will fetch them TRPs.

In essence, news channels have Trumpified their coverage — they have been nasty, mean and often brutish in their approach to the SSR case, unmindful and uncaring of people’s privacy or reputation and the right to a fair hearing.

And then, just when you have dismissed them out of hand, switched off their channels, they remind you of their real calling. Since Tuesday afternoon, through Wednesday early morning and into the day, channels like India Today-Aaj Tak, NDTV India and NDTV 24×7, Times Now, ABP, India TV, CNN News 18 have doggedly reported on the extraordinary behaviour of the UP administration and state police in the Hathras case, taking a very dim view of the Yogi Adityanath government.

They also exposed the tragedy of the Hathras victim and her family, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after she died —  the protests outside Safdarjung Hospital and the late night journey back to her village. TV reporters followed the ambulance carrying her body back– something they had also done tracking Padukone from her Goa hotel to the airport.

Then came the horrifying visuals of the reported gangrape victim’s cremation by the Uttar Pradesh police, despite her families’ stated objections, that filled the airwaves even as the smoke rose in the open field where her last rites were performed.

Also read: ‘Drugwood’, ‘Umar Lobby Secret Tape’, ‘UPSC jihad’ — You aren’t watching news but masala TV

Breaking news, very late

This was television news was at its best. Reporters went after the district magistrate, they recorded his conversation with her family, and they hammered away, again and again, at the police who stood blocking access to her pyre:

India Today reporter: “Yeh kya jal raha hai?’’

Police officer: “DM sir se baat hui hai aapki?’’

India Today reporter: “Yeh kya jal raha hai?’’

Police officer: “DM sir se baat hui hai aapki?’’

“Enough is enough” declared NDTV 24×7. “Justice chhahiye” demanded India TV. “Hathras’ fight is our fight too’’, proclaimed Aaj Tak.

Doesn’t this coverage painfully and uncannily remind you of the Bollywood ‘drug case’ and SSR’s death?

And, all of it two weeks too late. The young woman was allegedly gangraped on 14 September. The news channels only took up her cause on 28 September when she was critical. Till then, they were high on whatever hash they believe the film stars have consumed.

Speaking of film stars, Amitabh Bachchan has returned to television with Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony) — looking as dapper as ever and none the worse for his encounter with Covid that led to his hospitalisation.

News anchors like Goswami may learn a thing or two from him about how to conduct themselves on reality TV — after all, that’s what news has become, right?

He is polite, he listens and speaks only when he has to. He is never dismissive or degrading. Above all, he is inclusive, inviting the viewer to join him in the quest for the right answers.

In today’s toxic television climate, Bachchan is like a shot of oxygen. And in these coronavirus times, that’s just what the doctor ordered.

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  1. To end the whole discussion with an anecdote about Bachchan!! It’s beyond absurd. The article despite raising certain pertinent questions ends on a juvenile note!

  2. How about you bring the change and post something useful. Went through your articles and all of them were basically some judgement on others and that’s not journalism but rant.

  3. Its unfortunate that you point fingers at other news media when your own coverage of this issue started on 29th September after the death of the victim in hospital. Actually you started covering the issue almost a day late.
    Just focus on your journalism, the way it is mentioned in your call for support. Trying to constantly point out how different you are from others only makes you more like them.

  4. But 8ndian middle class and upper middle class viewership view only stars. Even stars like Kangana are fine. Anything less is boring.

    And please don’t burden them with the greater good and moral consciousness, okay? They worship God.

  5. Shailaja must be missing those days of one-way communication. She is obiviously a sad reflection of news channels who parroted also probably helped in other ways by congrass government to spread FAKE NEWS of a conspiracy to bring down the structure erected by babur .

    You wouldn’t call out the FAKE NEWS NARRATIVE of all those years would you?

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