Before 2014, the prime time news audience would have laughed on the thought of a sitting Prime Minister being interviewed by Arnab Goswami. Carrying an image built out of facts, interruption, and tough questions, Goswami’s Frankly Speaking at Times Now enjoyed public appreciation for his style of journalism. Cut to 2021 – he is hailed as the ‘government’s mouthpiece’. Why?
The iconic interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 categorically stated his pro-government stance. Many believed that it was due to the ‘officials’ at the Times Now Network, but then he pulled off a ‘fallout’. Arnab made a comeback on national television with Republic TV, his own channel, and ever since, his distance from objectivity and facts has been ever increasing.
Primetime debates on the channel continue to revolve around anti-Gandhi, pro-army, pro-government, Digital India, and similar narratives while sensitive topics such as economy, jobs, and poverty disappear into oblivion. From an exclusive interview with Kangana Ranaut to utilizing Sushant Singh Rajput’s death as a TRP catalyst, Goswami’s image, even in media fraternity, has degraded from a watchdog to bulldog.
Arnab Goswami, Republic TV, and its management are currently facing legal and media trials for the TRP scam. Partho Dasgupta, former chief executive of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the entity responsible for calculating TRP ratings, has gone on record with The Indian Express to state that Goswami funded Partho’s trips to France, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark trip along with at least Rs 10 lakh cash on every meeting in exchange for high TRP numbers.
If this wasn’t enough, there is the recent WhatsApp chat leak. Although it is difficult to trust the authenticity of a document in today’s times, one cannot ignore the starkly visible alliances between the journalist and parliamentary members of the government. The knowledge of Uri Surgical Strike before its execution is a classic example.
Looking at the current as well future condition of the press freedom and democracy in this country, Arnab Goswami’s role of a masked politician under the skin of a journalist is a painful reality.