The ‘Arnab Goswami bubble’ has burst. The WhatsApp chats that are in the public domain are a part of the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in a case related to the alleged TRP scam being investigated by them.
What emerges from these chats has less to do with the man seemingly at the centre of the controversy; Arnab Goswami is only incidental to the story. But this is not about an individual; it’s about the levels to which some of our institutions have been corroded.
The story uncovers the levels of ‘match-fixing’ that have been indulged in, in order to immortalise certain ‘bubbles’.
The Arnab Goswami chats are a small window into how the mythology of Modi is built day after day, night after night, prime time after prime time for those who can still afford to be gullible.
What Arnab’s Chats ‘Reveal’: A Case Of ‘Quid Pro Quo’?
When you close your eyes and visualise Arnab Goswami, the image that comes to mind is that of a man going over the top to proclaim himself as the greatest living patriot on earth. He wouldn’t just stop at that. He appointed himself as the govt appointed distributor of certificates of patriotism to every other Indian who was either opposed to the government or worse if he or she was a non-Hindu.
Arnab Goswami, through his brand of media (I am sorry, I cannot bring myself to calling it journalism) ‘became the ruling regime’s mouthpiece’ in a sense.
From the chats it becomes clear, Arnab manipulated TRPs for himself and public opinion for the ruling dispensation – alas, both are turning out to be fake.
If Noam Chomsky wants to see a textbook example of ‘manufacturing consent’ by a regime, he should consider looking at today’s India.
Peddling ‘alternative facts’ to secure and consolidate the support of the majority community by transmitting hateful half-truths is what the TV news anchor used to do.
What Arnab did for the government was for all those to see who could bring themselves to watching his channel. What the ruling dispensation did for him is now gradually coming out. Together what they did to India is what should worry us all.
Arnab’s now-revealed WhatsApp conversations were with Partho Dasgupta, the then head of BARC. The chats reveal that between the two of them they were not only gaming the TRP apparatus, but were also actually getting powerful government functionaries and trolls to fix their rivals. The fact that a particular minister was instrumental in pushing a complaint against Republic under the carpet, shows how deep Goswami’s influence was.
‘Quid pro quo’ is writ large over all the conversations that are in the public domain. That Arnab Goswami was being ‘used’ to shape public opinion, to peddle polarising narratives and ultimately to subvert democracy, can be seen clearly even through the January fog of Delhi.
We should not grudge the glee Arnab felt at the martyrdom of our bravehearts in the Pulwama attack. Arnab truly represents the worst this regime brings out in itself and in its apologists. He only echoes the sentiment of the ruling dispensation. The story, I repeat is not Arnab Goswami. He is just the story teller.
Arnab’s ‘Access’ To Sensitive Information
Arnab got exposed by Arnab. On boringly predictable lines he seeks to hide behind the fig leaf of Pakistan. But it seems that Pakistan now seeks to ‘hide behind Arnab Goswami’. Did he perhaps give Pakistan an escape route?
There will be entertainment for those seeking salacious gossip through these chats. There will be some red faces in the government.
There will be theories galore. But the larger and more serious questions remain unanswered.
All that we know are the chats that Arnab Goswami had with Partho Dasgupta, because the Mumbai Police is investigating the latter’s involvement in an alleged scam.
‘The Nation Deserves To Know’
We only know that Arnab Goswami — as per the revealed chats — allegedly had prior access to information on the Balakot air strikes, but we do not from where he got this and other sensitive information, and more importantly, who all he perhaps shared the information with. Arnab’s connections with people across the border need thorough investigation.
We owe it to the families of our martyred soldiers. We owe it to each and every Indian who spent sleepless nights worrying over Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s well being.
We owe it to the nation, in whose name Arnab peddled his ‘anti-national’ agenda. Above all, we owe it to those who voted for the powers that be, actually believing the ‘myths’ spun by propagandists and lobbyists.
(The writer is former political secretary to Sheila Dikshit, and is currently National Spokesperson, Congress party. He tweets @Pawankhera .This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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