Ravish Kumar is an anchor par excellence. His oratory, presentation and ability to be nuanced on complex issues make him, arguably, the best news presenter in Hindi. The show in question has generated a lot of buzz on social media. On this show Ravish launches a scathing attack on his own fraternity – the media and with great dramatic effect makes the screen go black while he speaks about his views on how the whole JNU issue was mis-handled by the media as well as the derogatory activities of the lawyers at the Patiala House Court where they allegedly beat up Kanhaiya (the student arrested for raising anti national slogans at JNU), some journalists and abused Kanhaiya’s lawyers.
In this show, however, Ravish used his gift of the gab to to mislead his audience on several issues.
Ravish chastises those who inflamed nationalist passions using the JNU slogans. But Ravish said nothing when people inflamed passions during Dadri or over Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad. Shockingly Ravish had nothing to say about Rahul Gandhi going to the JNU campus in the middle of the night and spewing venom against the establishment in a charged atmosphere. This sadly reeks of partisanship on the part of Ravish Kumar.
Selectivity can never be the attribute of a good journalist.
But selectivity is what Ravish indulged in when he espoused the importance of free speech in the case of the JNU students (never mind that they called for ‘Bharat ki barbadi’) but looked the other way when Kamlesh Tiwari was jailed for calling the Prophet Mohammad gay. What is abominable about this duplicity is that this is a tacit approval for arrest due to blasphemy but not due to sedition. Make no mistake. Ravish’s silence on Kamlesh Tiwari does in no way strengthen free speech. All it does is expose his double standards on the topic of free speech.
Ravish laments the fake videos doing the rounds on social media showing the political group of Kanhaiya in poor light. A responsible and neutral journalist should have also spoken about a fake video of the rival political group named ABVP that did the rounds on social media. Again, if this is not doublespeak and partisanship, I don’t know what is. (I am not condoning the circulation of fake videos of Kanhaiya, I am condemning both the sets of fake videos).
Ravish goes on to launch a blistering attack about how people raised slogans of ‘Bharat Maata Ki Jai’ and used that to hide their cloak of hatred and dress it up in nationalism. This tends to make his viewers despise the feeling of nationalism. Just like a Sakshi Maharaj does not represent Hinduism, these goons who attack people using nationalism as their excuse do not represent the silent majority of the population that is inherently patriotic. Why then did Ravish not care to put out the actual words calling for the destruction of India which incited the lawyers to raise the above slogans in the first place? Without the actual words that incited passions, it is extremely hard to understand the emotions and sentiments of the people on the streets out to protest them.
This is journalistic dishonesty – helps in driving one’s point of view with total blacking out (pun intended) of the contrarian view.
Finally, let’s be honest. This show by Ravish was an attempt at his self righteous rant against Arnab masquerading as self introspection. Various eminent journalists, some of Nira Radia fame, have come out openly to launch a direct attack on Arnab Goswami as he did not toe the ‘liberal intellectual’ line in his dealing of the JNU issue. He displayed all the slogans raised on the campus, went ballistic (as is his peculiarity) against those defending the slogans. But, Arnab also ripped apart the lawyers in the Patiala House Court who resorted to physical attacks.
Arnab’s video taking on Umar Khalid went viral on social media and even apolitical people shared it. It resonated with their feelings. Arnab got hold of the pulse of the common man. Heck, one of my American friends shared it and said ‘he was in awe of this Indian journalist’. Yes, Arnab is dramatic. Yes, Arnab is sensational. But he is not apologetic about it. By self admission he practices opinionated journalism. Ravish conducting a dramatic show, thereby breaking away from his own sober and nuanced brand of journalism is an approval for the brand of journalism practised by Arnab which he set out to flay in the first place! It is drama that gets you TRPs. Some do it openly, some hide it in the garb of intellectual and moral superiority.
Remember, the Indian army does not watch news channels, the army does not read columns penned by arm chair intellectuals when when they are involved in an ambush by terrorists or when they are guarding our borders at Siachen. It requires passion, emotion and ‘josh’ and nobody else than a veteran can better understand them.