The Supreme Court Friday granted Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami three weeks protection from any “coercive action” by police in relation to a clutch of FIRs filed against him for inciting hate and criticising Congress President Sonia Gandhi. This comes a day after Goswami alleged that he and his wife were attacked in a Mumbai parking lot. He has also accused Sonia Gandhi of orchestrating the attack.
ThePrint asks: Arnab Goswami vs Congress: Drama for TV ratings or attack on free speech?
Arnab keeps spreading venom through divisive debates, this can’t be freedom of expression
National spokesperson, Congress
There seems to be a notion in the minds of the current ruling dispensation, of which Arnab Goswami is one of the founding members that democracy is a theatre and the one who constantly supplies drama, shall rule.
Whether Narendra Modi learns from Arnab Goswami or teaches him is not relevant here. In their compulsive need not just for theatrics but also to be the centre of their own drama, they end up becoming mirror images of each other. As Marlon Brando said, “An actor’s a guy who, if you ain’t talking about him, ain’t listening.”
What Arnab does on TV is not journalism. It is not even “bad journalism” to quote the Press Council of India. It is a distorted, convoluted form of cheap propaganda that can at best be entertainment for some, if no other toon channel is working.
Mass entertainers are nothing without mass adulation. Covid-19 has stolen the thunder of those who depended on bluff and bluster for constant reaffirmation from the masses. Psychoanalysts will attribute this tendency to a pathological condition that comes from a deeply felt realisation of ones inadequacies and fear of insignificance.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Day in and day out, from his bully pulpit, Arnab Goswami keeps spreading venom through divisive debates, hate filled diatribes and cheap dramatics. Trying to give communal colour to the Palghar tragedy was one such very dangerous attempt. Apart from being a lie, it had a potential to lead to large-scale communal violence. This cannot be and is not freedom of expression.
The attack on Arnab Goswami is clearly an attack on free speech
Abhijit Iyer Mitra
Senior fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
The attack on Arnab Goswami is a clear attack on free speech. Congress governments across states do not simply file FIRs against an individual for the sake of TV drama. Having been at the receiving end of a similar mass filing, I can tell you it takes coordination and direction. That several Congress governments decided to file a plethora of charges against him, based on his attack on Sonia Gandhi smacks not just of coordination but also direction from the very top.
The visuals of the attack on him are disturbing. How was it that a bunch of 5 to 7 men were able to go around Mumbai? One of them was an India Youth Congress official of Sion which is 7-8 kilometers away from Arnab’s office in Lower Parel, was able to drive with a bunch of men without once being stopped in a lockdown also says a lot. Add to this at least two Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel have condemned Goswami in addition to several former cabinet ministers. I understand many people don’t like Arnab, but trying to make fun of what is a clear sequence and accretion of events pointing to the coordinated use of state power against an individual, is fascism. Yes that’s what it is. No caveats.
Attacking Sonia won’t bring TRPs for Arnab, he needs a bigger ‘villain’ now
Senior journalist, author and former editor of India Today
Arnab Goswami had transformed a long time ago from a serious journalist to prime time entertainer, the host and chief guest of his own reality show. So it comes as no surprise that he has orchestrated an entire campaign centred around himself, portraying himself as prime victim. In that he is taking a leaf out of the playbook of India’s most powerful, who continue to play the outsider even when firmly ensconced in the power zone they love to scoff at–Lutyens Delhi. It is a clever ploy and it almost always works with a large population which feels disenchanted and disgruntled. But it is also unethical, given his own elite background and considerable privileges. Also unethical is his hatred for NDTV, his home for many years, the channel that first made him a star.
The question is wrongly framed. It is not Arnab Goswami vs Congress. It should be Arnab Goswami vs journalism. Not good or bad journalism, as the Press Council framed it, but journalism. There was a time when a debate about Sonia Gandhi aka Antonia Maino as Arnab Goswami likes to call her, would have ensured prime time ratings. Now, in a post Corona Virus world where the citizen has been cut adrift of the state and its appurtenances, neither she nor her party is relevant. Either he needs to look for a villain bigger than Sonia (as he addresses her with such familiarity) or fire himself. After all, Donald Trump did so, and look where he landed eventually. Politics is the last refuge of the reality star.
Don’t agree with Arnab? Change the channel. No place for physical assault in a civilised society
Senior independent journalist
No physical attack or act of violence against any individual should ever be acceptable in a civilised society. If you do not agree with a writer, artist, activist or journalist – argue based on logic and facts, unsubscribe, switch channels or if there is legal evidence to counter some reports, challenge it in a court of law, but no one should take law in their hands. Arnab Goswami’s allegations need a serious and timely probe so that the facts are established. If required his security should also be reviewed.
But freedom of press and free speech should be applicable fairly to all, including journalists booked under UAPA to sedition for asking questions to those in power and positions of authority. Journalists in small towns, conflict zones and those reporting from Kashmir have faced tremendous challenges, been legally and physically threatened, harmed or harassed for doing their job. Shrill polarising debates driven by the urge to grab eyeballs or resonate preferred political and/or ideological agendas has turned most of prime time television today into a circus with dangerous consequences for the country. Unfortunately what many practice in news studios today has little to do with journalism or free speech and more to do with click baiting through frenzied drama.
By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.