Hours later, during the prime-time debate at 9 pm, the channel’s managing director and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami said he apologises for the error and claimed that the channel’s team had realised their mistake and corrected themselves after all the facts of the matter came out.
“When this incident happened today, in the initial burst of news reports, many people made the mistake and we also made the mistake of thinking that it was a protester who had pulled out a gun. We didn't know there was someone from outside. But, the moment his name came out, his identity came out and the facts came out, we corrected ourselves, okay? So it was a mistake I made, we are sorry for it. I'm saying it on prime time television. There's no malintent from our side, which is why we corrected ourselves,” Goswami said during his first debate of the night, which was about the shooting incident.
However, a detailed look at Republic TV’s coverage in the seven hours between the incident and Arnab’s prime-time show contradicts his claim and shows how the apology was a farce.
Bulletin 1: At 1:55 PM
When the initial news broke at around 1:55 pm, multiple media outlets were trying to establish the shooter’s identity and motive. Republic TV, however, was quick to claim that this was “the real face of the anti-CAA protests” and suggested the incident was a way to “grab eyeballs”.
A political editor and anchor of Republic TV questioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “supporting these kind of people”.
The channel, for the entire length of their bulletin, concentrated on implicating the anti-CAA protesters, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal-led Delhi government. The subsequent bulletins weaved a similar narrative which started with shaming the protesters and later went on to attack the AAP government.
At around 3:00 pm, the identity of the shooter was established. Several journalists took to Twitter to identify him.
But the channel continued to blame the protesters for it. Arnab Goswami issued an apology during his prime time debate and said that the channel misreported in the “initial phases” and that the channel had no “malintent”.
However, in the seven hours from when the news broke out and Goswami conducted his prime-time debate, there was no sign of apology or retraction/correction.
The channel did stop airing the lower band text which had earlier referred to the shooter as a ‘Jamia protester’, though this was done without any clarification or correction.
Bulletin 2: The Same Narrative Continues
Researcher Vasundhara Singh Sirnate posted a thread on Twitter which shows how Republic and Republic Hindi covered the incident.
In their bulletin at 4:04 pm, the channel linked the Jamia shooting incident to Shaheen Bagh, which has been a symbol of anti-CAA protests.
Now, the information about the details of the shooter came out at around 3:00 pm and these bulletins were aired almost an hour after the facts had emerged.
In fact, at 6:00 pm another bulletin on Republic Hindi stuck to the same narrative. The top bands of the channel kept comparing ‘Shaheen Bagh’ to ‘Jamia’ to insinuate that the chaos and panic was caused by the protesters.
Republic has been called out several times for spreading misinformation and this time too, the channel tried to change the narrative of the incident.
- It misidentified the shooter as an anti-CAA protester from Jamia.
- The channel didn’t issue an apology until 9 pm, which was almost seven hours after the incident had taken place and the news broke out. But there was no clarification in the intervening period i.e. from 2 pm to 9 pm.
The Quint has reached out to Arnab Goswami to know if the channel issued a clarification in between its bulletins. The story will be updated as and when we receive a response.